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Thread: WHAM in Afghanistan: a report on development aid in COIN ops

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default WHAM in Afghanistan: a report on development aid in COIN ops

    Hat tip to Kings of War.

    WHAM is shorthand for 'Winning ‘Hearts and Minds’ and the link below is to a report on a Wilton Park conference (a UK FCO conference venue) entitled 'Winning Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan: Assessing the effectiveness of development aid in COIN operations'.

    The KoW author David Betz comments:
    One of the most striking articles of faith in our campaign in Afghanistan specifically and COIN doctrine generally has been the notion that development aid wins hearts and minds.(Concludes) It makes plain that there is a fairly serious disjuncture between COIN doctrine and political reality.
    David takes one paragraph from the report:
    The research findings from Afghanistan highlight that many of the fundamental conflict drivers there are inherently political in nature, such as ethnic grievances and inter- and intra-tribal disputes. Indeed, many Afghans believe the main cause of insecurity to be their government, which is perceived to be massively corrupt, predatory and unjust. A COIN strategy premised on using aid to win the population over to such a negatively perceived government faces an uphill struggle, especially in a competitive environment where the Taliban are perceived by many to be more effective in addressing the people’s highest priority needs of security and access to justice. Without getting the ‘politics right’ both military and aid efforts are unlikely to achieve their desired effects.
    Link:http://kingsofwar.org.uk/wp-content/...nal-Report.pdf

    We have debated many of the issues raised in the title and substance on the ground, but this report is interesting in its own right. Partly due to the sponsors and venue.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    So turning this around could be better served by Reservists with small town political experience instead of development and aid backgrounds?...Not shocking, but this is an excellent find.

    It comes on the eve of my deploy, but I hope to get through it in a day or two.

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    Default The same theme

    I know this is not being applied in the current realm of strategy but William R. Polk's recent article in The Nation speaks to the organic "governance" structure of Afghanistan---the road not travelled.

    Actually, for me, and perhaps many on this site, it positively points to actual locally-appliable solutions that seem to be at odds with our confusing mumbo-jumbo about linking to, and supporting extension of a corrupt and predatory government down to the people.

    Back to jirgas and shuras. (Start over)

    Legitimation Crisis in Afghanistan

    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100419/polk/1

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    Back to jirgas and shuras. (Start over)
    If only we could just start over...

    The Karzai government, like the proverbial elephant in the drawing room, exists. It will seek, with a vigor worthy of a better cause, to perpetuate its existence... in fact that's probably the only thing it will do with any vigor or any efficiency. It won't vanish in a puff of smoke just because we decide that setting it up wasn't such a great idea. It will do all in its power to derail any effort that might compromise its position or profitability.

    It's a problem. If we could go back and start over, we'd have an easy solution, but unless DoD has a time machine hidden somewhere, that's not an option.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    If only we could just start over...

    The Karzai government, like the proverbial elephant in the drawing room, exists. It will seek, with a vigor worthy of a better cause, to perpetuate its existence... in fact that's probably the only thing it will do with any vigor or any efficiency. It won't vanish in a puff of smoke just because we decide that setting it up wasn't such a great idea. It will do all in its power to derail any effort that might compromise its position or profitability.
    Cheer up. It ain't so bad.

    Most, if not all, of what you typed could be said about our own government in the US. Nothing but graft and corruption to keep elected officials and bureaucrats entrenched in power and/or assured of job security and prestige. The advantage in Afghanistan is that Karzai does not have the support of nearly as many well-funded and well-connected interest groups as our elected individuals do. I'd say Afghanistan is more workable because, in ISAF, we have a comparatively large, well-funded, and comparatively efficient organization to act as a check against him.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Cheer up. It ain't so bad.

    Most, if not all, of what you typed could be said about our own government in the US. Nothing but graft and corruption to keep elected officials and bureaucrats entrenched in power and/or assured of job security and prestige. The advantage in Afghanistan is that Karzai does not have the support of nearly as many well-funded and well-connected interest groups as our elected individuals do
    I'm cheerful as can be... I can afford to be, I'm not in Afghanistan!

    The US Government has its share of issues; all governments do. It functions, though, and Karzai's doesn't, a substantial difference. And while the blocs supporting, manipulating, and profiting from Karzai's presence may not be nearly as large on the absolute level as American interest groups, they carry a fair bit of weight in their own pond.

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I'd say Afghanistan is more workable because, in ISAF, we have a comparatively large, well-funded, and comparatively efficient organization to act as a check against him.
    Kinda sucks if ISAF has to divert its resources to the task of acting as a check on the Karzai government... don't they have a few other problems they're supposed to be managing?

    I do get the feeling that in creating this government we spawned a bit of a monster, that it's more a part of the problem than a part of the solution, and that we've added a major obstacle to a process that already had more than its share of obstacles.

    It probably is better than I think, though that's not saying much!

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default WHAM: cross-posting

    Colonel Dan Roper, US Army CAC and a sponsor of the Wilton Park conference has added his comments - via SWJ Blog - on the CAC blog:http://usacac.army.mil/blog/blogs/co...d-in-coin.aspx

    He makes an interesting comment:
    After engaging with a number of conference experts, I would offer my personal perception that the term “Winning Hearts and Minds” may inadvertently hinder our efforts in counterinsurgency environments. The somewhat lofty rhetoric associated with this slogan may contribute to undisciplined application of aid in order to buy happiness and goodwill, when, at its essence, COIN is not about happiness and goodwill or people liking us; it is about trust, confidence, and legitimacy.
    There is a link to a BBC radio discussion on the CAC website.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    This is painful.
    • The idea that "development" is part of Irregular Warfare is rubbish and always has been. It's a POP-COIN fallacy.
    • Why are we still saying "Hearts and Minds?"


    Around and around.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Chris jM's Avatar
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    Default This is a rhetorical question I know, but regardless...

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    [*]Why are we still saying "Hearts and Minds?"
    Why? Because the concept of 'hearts and minds' is conventional wisdom within militaries. It is taught by the hierarchy as gospel, and very few people think through the causes and consequences of the concept.

    I know that, before I started reading SWJ, I had considered it to be true and had never doubted the wisdom of the approach. It took a number of debates being read through, time spent in ISAF and participation in the argument before I changed my thoughts on the subject.

    'Hearts and minds' is a concept that is easily acceptable, politically expedient (i.e. easy to sell to the media and one's own government) and sounds, on the surface at least, logical. Throw in the 'as history shows' comment by referencing success in Malaya as being brought about by a good 'hearts and minds' campaign and there is very little need to doubt or question the concept. Also, 'hearts and minds' is an exceedingly easy way of 'teaching' population-centric COIN as it currently stands in doctrine.

    Rage against it, but 'hearts and minds' is a dominant (driving?) part of popular military thought right now. Rubbish it may be, but it's like that cheap and tacky paper-back author who keeps on hanging around - sometimes success is driven by appealing to the lowest common denominator.

    Great find with regards to the article. I just wish that I had access to this at the very start of the year!
    '...the gods of war are capricious, and boldness often brings better results than reason would predict.'
    Donald Kagan

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris jM View Post
    'Hearts and minds' is a concept that is easily acceptable, politically expedient (i.e. easy to sell to the media and one's own government) and sounds, on the surface at least, logical. Throw in the 'as history shows' comment by referencing success in Malaya as being brought about by a good 'hearts and minds' campaign and there is very little need to doubt or question the concept. Also, 'hearts and minds' is an exceedingly easy way of 'teaching' population-centric COIN as it currently stands in doctrine.
    Well if you use bad history and extrapolate ideas from bad history, you're stuffed. I sometimes feel no one in the US POP-COIN community has even vaguely studied the Malayan campaign.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Chris jM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Well if you use bad history and extrapolate ideas from bad history, you're stuffed. I sometimes feel no one in the US POP-COIN community has even vaguely studied the Malayan campaign.
    It's not all doom and gloom - I still have faith that the gods of necessity will drive the tactical forces on the ground to evolve the best practices. It just seems to be taking a while as we always address problems with power-point manifestos, never tackling the cause.

    Adding to the discussion, I think the below is relevant when pushing funds into a military problem. It's a take on how an insurgent could view the lavishing of money to win 'hearts and minds'. It's an extract from a larger doc that contains "information obtained from a Viet Cong document captured on 22 March 1968 by C Company, 3 RAR. The report was prepared by the Propaganda and Training Section of Ba Bien Province and provided information on Allied forces propaganda activities during the first half of 1967."

    I'm not trying to draw Vietnam/ Afghan parallels, but it is the other side of the "COIN" when it comes to throwing around money and resources (it's based on American propaganda, but the author includes the the spending of money as part of a COIN mission under this title).

    Assessment of the Enemy Propaganda Themes

    After studying the enemy propaganda themes in Ba Bien during the first six months of 1967, we discovered the following wicked tricks:

    1. Propaganda activities were considered as important tasks, so the enemy spent a lot of money, resorted to all means (including television) and concentrated all the main efforts of politics, military, culture, and economy, on propaganda activities.

    2. All of the enemy pacification groups, which consisted of cadre subordinate to political, military, cultural and economic branches, attended the six-month training course, so that they were able to play their roles well.

    3. The enemy knew how to select villages as experimental sites to launch burning and destroying activities, and to extend “their main objective areas”, from which they would exploit experiences to improve their operations.

    According to their branches, each cadre was specifically assigned to carry out his mission. But, they all focussed on the main requirements which placed emphasis on propaganda for pacification and its tasks to serve this objective.

    4. They performed missions step by step and gained experience after each action phase, with the purpose of improving their skills.

    5. After carefully studying the social class, way of life, and activity of each individual and each family, they classified their objectives in order to facilitate their propaganda activities.

    6. The cunning enemy tactical psychological warfare was employed to coincide with the field situations and the people’s aspirations.

    7. In support of propaganda activities, the “three together” tactic was carried out at the first step, with the objective of gaining the sympathy of the population as a basis for propaganda, although they lacked a just cause.

    8. They perseveringly drummed propaganda themes into the minds of the people and stayed close to them, although they always met obstacles and difficulties.

    9. In addition to several forms of propaganda, whispering, deception, word of mouth, et cetera, they conducted propaganda activities by telling stories and talking with each family and each inter-family group, then they widely spread persuasive propaganda among children.

    Thanks to that method, the enemy achieved satisfactory results. Their new and malicious tricks were proven by the following evidence...

    The Enemy Demagogic Schemes

    Whenever Australians killed persons, they paid for the victim’s funeral ceremony, and told their relatives that, “we are sorry to have shot them by mistake”. This fact gives a minority of people satisfaction, therefore they thought that those victims died just deaths. Thus, the enemy was malicious because at the same time they killed the people with their bloody hand, they gained favour with the people.

    In addition to demagoguery, the Chieu Hoi scheme, and deceptive propaganda for peace, the enemy achieved the following results:

    Our people felt sympathy for the enemy and were grateful to them for building hospitals and schools, organising popular education, digging wells, selling pigs to the people at a low price, cementing pigsties, distributing United States supplied items, taking children to Cap St Jacques (Vung Tau) for a change of air, carrying patients to Saigon for treatment, et cetera. For instance: When United States trucks came, the people crowded around to get supplies. A number of cadre’s daughters and sisters, who had been seduced and were in love with the enemy political action team members, wrote letters to their parents requesting their approval, under the pretext that they would motivate their lovers to defect to our ranks. As for phoney peace, the enemy psychological warfare activities instilled in a number of people the ideal that Americans with their good will of peace extended the war because we of North Viet Nam refused peace negotiations. For the relocation of the people, the enemy constantly launched sweep operations and air attacks with an attempt at inspiring a fear of death among the people, in order to influence them into moving to his controlled areas. In some villages, the enemy activities induced results during the past six months.

    After realising that the enemy propaganda themes lacked a just cause, the majority of the people unmasked their cruel schemes, and despised them. For these reasons, the enemy studied a lot of wicked tricks, and wasted money to appease and deceive the people, so that they could gain the results they desired. Therefore, we should objectively judge these problems and constantly intensify ideological indoctrination of the people. However, the enemy still suffered basic failures. It was not easy for them to accomplish the requirements of “winning sympathy and reason” and of “eradicating resentment”. The enemy could not use “iron, blood, and fire” war materials to oppress the people’s patriotism, because it was like “pouring oil on the fire”.

    If “search and destroy” military tactics failed, “pacification” plans would be frustrated. Basically, the enemy’s nature was “aggression”, and a lack of a just cause.
    '...the gods of war are capricious, and boldness often brings better results than reason would predict.'
    Donald Kagan

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    Wow.

    There are Lessons Learned, and there are Lessons Missed.

    I found the Leavenworth Blog interesting for the huge gap between theory and practice.

    I was reading one comment where development professionals and field implementers for Stability Ops where trying to get across what is really needed, and others trying to explain what they were doing.

    Very little connection between the two.

    At issue is the on-going ambiguity of COIN as a theory, and COIN as a practice, and the continuing ambiguous "bullet points" of COIN objectives, and the practical means and resources to define, support and accomplish them.

    Politicians are routinely accused of making ambiguous "sound bite" claims during the campaign, but without any means strategy or resources to actually accomplish any campaign claims, which are all quickly abandoned once in office.

    While that accusation is often overstated in actual politics, it is increasingly seems to be the sum and substance of COIN as to Stability Ops and Development.

    "Captain, Sergeant: Go into that village, district, and establish stability, effective governance, and a high level of public services and a prosperous economy that will defy intrusion by bad guys (and not become a feeding zone for corrupt government officials from above. If you have any questions, look it up in our policy manual which contains more detailed policy "bullet points" for what you should accomplish. Good luck, and report back to me next month on completion, or sooner if you are able to exceed expectations.

    PS- We have a web portal and TTPs capturing Lessons Learned from other Captains and Sergeant who, with sporadic results, also struggled with this same mission in locations and circumstances which may or may not have anything to do with the circumstances you will face (of which we are unaware.)"

    Is it any wonder we are going into the next decade of this?

    Reality mandates, as many of the experienced development and field implementers of Stability Ops on the Leavenworth bloggers noted, a new conceptualization, support system, and structure to the effort.

    In the professional development/public administration arena, experts struggle with years of professional, technical and field experience to learn how public systems and governance structures actually operate, and how, when problems arise (as they always do), how to correct, or substantially restructure (or abandon, start-over, redefine) failing efforts and systems.

    Behind any effective system is a depth of operational training, management/administration, budgeting/financial controls/accounting, logistical/equipment/construction/technical support. None of this, in real life, is successfully done by cross-trained staff on temporary assignments to any area and context alien to their prior experiences.

    Here, we take perhaps the most challenging circumstances, and, instead of sending in Tiger Teams of experts to support and assist the Captain and Sergeant in (1) defining the core problems; (2) developing, with local realities and participation), the effective reasonable strategies and tactics; and (3) setting up (in the background and at regional or above levels) effective support and implementation processes, systems and funding to make that village mission credible and possible.

    A few months ago, I listened to a presentation on civilian deployments in Afghanistan. The agency was recruiting low-level generic "governance" folks, and deploying short-term federal civilians from various agencies. The explanation was that it took six to nine months for these types of recruits to become effective, and then their tour was up.

    My point, which has never been captured in any Lessons Learned that I am aware of, is that if actual and qualified SMEs, experienced in immersion trouble-shooting in their subject fields, were built up as effective Tiger teams (and adequately supported), they could actually make a difference in the success outcomes of the Captain/Sergeant's efforts, but the answers, solutions, strategies and tactics realistically applicable to any individual problem set/locality cannot be speculated on until they have actually done it.

    Such a Tiger Team, within 60 days of various deployments, would begin to build/develop/coordinate systems of both knowledge and effective support wherein one plus one can start to equal one or two (instead of one or less, as is the metric today).

    The US mission, as articulated and scheduled, mandates performance at transformational levels (one plus one equals four or six), and cannot actually occur until a credible strategy and system is developed to first, with some consistency, achieve one plus one equals two.

    For anyone actually interested, myself, Surferbeetle, Dayahun and others have loaded this site with questions, answers and recommendations that I have never seen coming from any think tank or manual. But the problems on which they are based continue to be reflected in reports from Winton Park, Leavenworth, etc...

    I think the problems are well-defined, but the pursued solutions (which seldom work) seem to capture lots of Lessons Learned (don't try that again), but seldom incorporate any credible strategies from experienced SMEs in those fields. ?????

    There are ways to accomplish things, but they are not, to my mind, being pursued.

    I continue to be amazed at how this process of doing the same thing over and over again with the same inadequate results could ever amount to anything.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post

    Such a Tiger Team, within 60 days of various deployments, would begin to build/develop/coordinate systems of both knowledge and effective support wherein one plus one can start to equal one or two (instead of one or less, as is the metric today).
    ....but why? The military problem is finding and killing the enemy. Security enables development. Development does not enable security.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    No.

    The military mission has become a muddle of public service, diplomacy, development aid an political/administrative confusion. All administered on an ad hoc basis by soldiers without the requisite background, experience and resources for this accidental mission.

    An Adhocracy.

    After WWII, there was an occupation, and a Civil Affairs Corps to administer occupation. It's clear mission, was to stabilize and reconstruct.

    Here, we don't occupy, don't control, but are solely dependent on the civilian administration/political issues. Nor is Afghanistan being defined as a stab/recon exercise, but some ill-conceived muddle of transformational development, social re-engineering, economic development, and nation-building.


    The alternative being tried today, Clear Hold Bribe, led by piecemeal efforts without transformational value, is like Rory Stewart's explanation of giving advice to the US officials. They call me in and ask: Should I wear seat belts when I drive off the cliff?

    So it is an Adhocracy that doesn't seem to be working well.

    My take is that Afghanistan is a logistical bottleneck. You can only send so much, and what you send must be used to accomplish whatever you are going to do.

    So, soldiers are there, and they are traveling about well-armed. There are no cadres of well-tooled and supported development civilians, and deploying such (with all their own support/security/logistics chain) would, of necessity, require trade-offs against the military.

    So the "tools" we have are soldiers, and some structure needs to be rapidly created to frame, guide and support their civilian-related work. They must become the Civil Affairs/Transformational engine, or there will not be one.

    In this day and age where poor Bangladeshi farmers can go to a village level computer and show their leaves, via Skype, to an ag specialist at a university miles away, it is hard to imagine that distributed technologies, and background support/planning can't be done better than Adhocracy.

    The one thing that Wilton Park and others have not wrapped their brains around is that, unlike other exercises in development, this is an exercise of logistics-constraint. It can only succeed by radically transforming the capability and deployability of development through an Army in the field. It is a radically different challenge, and can't be done without intentionality and purpose.

    But our focus is accidental and amateur, AND THE RESULTS SHOW.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-12-2010 at 09:58 PM. Reason: correction req'd

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