View Poll Results: Evaluate Kilcullen's work on counterinsurgency

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  • Brilliant, useful

    26 45.61%
  • Interesting, perhaps useful

    26 45.61%
  • Of little utility, not practical

    1 1.75%
  • Delusional

    4 7.02%
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Thread: The David Kilcullen Collection (merged thread)

  1. #341
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike in Hilo View Post
    Strikes me we have a contradiction...

    My own training and experience long ago convinced me that the primary COIN general principle--the indispensible sine qua non--was indeed convincing the population that we are on the winning side. May require a higher priority on killing the enemy (not advocating slaughter of civilians, for sure). That and "control" as Tequila has defined it.
    Concur, and the bold emphasis is mine.

  2. #342
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    Even though I'm gonna critique this book to death, Dr. K is the only willing person so far to have the balls (intestinal fortitude in army speak) to categorically write on this subject.
    What about Paret, Kitson, Samay Ram, Charters, Tugwell and O'Neil to name just a few of the authors on my COIN shelf?
    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

  3. #343
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Some people have a special knack for telling people what they want to hear

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    What about Paret, Kitson, Samay Ram, Charters, Tugwell and O'Neil to name just a few of the authors on my COIN shelf?
    Some of us don't.

    Sadly, when what one needs to do is difficult and requires a great deal of personal change, it is rarely also what one wants to hear.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  4. #344
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Sadly, when what one needs to do is difficult and requires a great deal of personal change, it is rarely also what one wants to hear.
    Sorry Bob. I don't understand. COIN is a commonly written about subject. Moreover, it was well understood until recently.

    I'm not talking about "Nation building." I am talking about defeating armed rebels so as political progress can take place - to paraphrase the Sultan of Oman.
    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

  5. #345
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Wilf, of course, BUT,

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    What about Paret, Kitson, Samay Ram, Charters, Tugwell and O'Neil to name just a few of the authors on my COIN shelf?
    I have a wedding this weekend for one of my old platoon leaders. He's now a company commander in my old unit. Last night, we had the rehearsal dinner and festivities (so minimize my last three posts. It was a late night), and I surveyed the current officers in the squadron. Only half even knew what SWJ was, and none of them read regularly. That's been my experience in the Army.

    Collectively, we're not this new generation of armed nation builders that sit around late at night reading about Malaya, Colombia, and the Phillipines. That is a myth. Instead, we'd rather hit the gym and the bar. In between deployments, the last thing that most guys want to talk about is war.

    So, my point about Dr. K is that he's the only CURRENT one that has written coherently, and I know that I can only recommend one book for guys to read. After that, they zone out. That's another reason why I'm taking the time to critique this book. So, the guy who actually writes the next "COIN and Me" does it right.

    From BW
    Some people have a special knack for telling people what they want to hear. Some of us don't. Sadly, when what one needs to do is difficult and requires a great deal of personal change, it is rarely also what one wants to hear.
    Sir, one of the beautiful things about SWJ is that the people that come here regularly are seekihg truth and better understanding. You're working to find it now, and that means it will be different from how others think. That's okay, but you have to remember that you have to sell your idea.

    Actually, I plan on comparing/contrasting your work with Dr. K's in a bit. It gets into hearts, minds, and soul or rebellion.

  6. #346
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Short video from Brzezinski "easier to kill a million people, than to control a million people"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkOOB...re=grec_browse

  7. #347
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    Argue away, just back it up with at least some historical examples of success. That argument is an assumption (the kind that make an ass out of u and me) hence my four additional questions. Tom Ricks labeled it appropriately as a Gamble with no historical basis of support. I would suggest that we got lucky in Iraq.

    Tequilla dubs it control. I understand his position, but I would suggest that it is always an illusion of control- appropriate for securing ground in the short term, but irrelevant in the long run strategic success.

    Recently, my small reconnaissance squadron was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for our actions in taking down an Al Qaeda training camp during the Surge. I was the main effort. 80% of all actions were derived from my troop as a commander.

    I also watched the aftermath of trying to control and change people.

    I am well aware of the so-called necessity for us to interdict with mass, and I would suggest that it is rubbish.

    As I consider Dr. K, I think his biggest shortcoming is his scope. He visited numerous units for short periods. In 3-4 day spurts, he tried to capture what each commander was facing. You never know truth without staying for at least three months with a unit. That remains his flaw. He heard what he wanted to hear and neatly packaged it into a book.
    I like that thought from Tequilla. It will only work for the short term. History has shown that we can get anywhere we want, but once we get there, things slow down and we don't make progress. I guess that's where the "mentor" idea comes in. Rather than keeping a big force there, bug out and leave some mentors and air support. This second part, hasn't been a big part of history, so my argument is all theory. As everyone knows, theory isn't always right.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    I have a wedding this weekend for one of my old platoon leaders. He's now a company commander in my old unit. Last night, we had the rehearsal dinner and festivities (so minimize my last three posts. It was a late night), and I surveyed the current officers in the squadron. Only half even knew what SWJ was, and none of them read regularly. That's been my experience in the Army.

    Collectively, we're not this new generation of armed nation builders that sit around late at night reading about Malaya, Colombia, and the Phillipines. That is a myth. Instead, we'd rather hit the gym and the bar. In between deployments, the last thing that most guys want to talk about is war.

    So, my point about Dr. K is that he's the only CURRENT one that has written coherently, and I know that I can only recommend one book for guys to read. After that, they zone out. That's another reason why I'm taking the time to critique this book. So, the guy who actually writes the next "COIN and Me" does it right.

    From BW


    Sir, one of the beautiful things about SWJ is that the people that come here regularly are seekihg truth and better understanding. You're working to find it now, and that means it will be different from how others think. That's okay, but you have to remember that you have to sell your idea.

    Actually, I plan on comparing/contrasting your work with Dr. K's in a bit. It gets into hearts, minds, and soul or rebellion.
    I completely agree with this. Despite what you may expect with the engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mentality of a large part of the population seems to be the same as it was in the 1990s: big conventional weapons will allow us to win everywhere. COIN is often misunderstood and interpreted as "surging."

    I have several peers who are either part of the military, or are trying to obtain a competitive position in it (SF mainly). They know quite a bit about different conventional weapons, but when I bring up COIN, both their knowledge and optimism is limited. I then recommend "Accidental Guerrilla" or visiting SWJ, but they don't have the interest. I'm not sure of the causes, but it is to bad.

    Like others, I am shocked by the fact that some portions of the US military continue to somewhat ignore COIN. Yes, I understand and agree that we should continue to develop and train for a large scale conventional engagement, but irregular warfare will continue to exist after Afghanistan and Iraq.

  8. #348
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    I have a wedding this weekend for one of my old platoon leaders. He's now a company commander in my old unit. Last night, we had the rehearsal dinner and festivities (so minimize my last three posts.
    Mazal Tov. Salams etc.
    Collectively, we're not this new generation of armed nation builders that sit around late at night reading about Malaya, Colombia, and the Phillipines. That is a myth. Instead, we'd rather hit the gym and the bar. In between deployments, the last thing that most guys want to talk about is war.
    ....and no one should expect you to. Very few doctors read medical journals, on a regular basis, if at all. I have no quibble with the pure professional who just wants to do the job.
    .....but you are NOT nation builders. You are soldiers.
    So, my point about Dr. K is that he's the only CURRENT one that has written coherently, and I know that I can only recommend one book for guys to read. After that, they zone out. That's another reason why I'm taking the time to critique this book. So, the guy who actually writes the next "COIN and Me" does it right.
    Again, I concur. That book should have been FM3-24. IMO, it was not fit for purpose. Back when I knew Dave, I liked him. Good writer, smart man, but I would treat his COIN insights with extreme caution, as I would both Galula and Thompson.
    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

  9. #349
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    It's always difficult to be sure about some concept or theory before it proves itself in practice.

    That is a major issue with COIN theory; it does not seem to win a war. The successes always seem to be stuck on the local or regional a.k.a. tactical level.
    Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan - there's no strategic success to be attributed to COIN theory.


    (Iraq had in my opinion only a coincidence of COIN tactics and "surge" with dominating Iraqi factors such as people getting fed up with AQI & civil war and finishing the ethnic cleansing).

    Maybe we should understand COIN theory as tactical instead of pretending that it's a recipe for strategic success.

  10. #350
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    It's always difficult to be sure about some concept or theory before it proves itself in practice.

    That is a major issue with COIN theory; it does not seem to win a war. The successes always seem to be stuck on the local or regional a.k.a. tactical level.
    Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan - there's no strategic success to be attributed to COIN theory.
    Apart from the Boer War - 1899-1902 (perhaps not a true counter-insurgency) what COIN war has not been settled through some sort of political action? I would say that the military aspect is merely a means of buying time to allow a political settlement rather than face a military solution.

  11. #351
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default True -- and all you can get

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    ... I would say that the military aspect is merely a means of buying time to allow a political settlement rather than face a military solution.
    usually is a generally acceptable solution, rarely a good one. I've also noticed that what is judged 'acceptable' is really defined downwards over time. The longer the costly farce lasts, the poorer the outcome. For everyone.

  12. #352
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Sorry Bob. I don't understand. COIN is a commonly written about subject. Moreover, it was well understood until recently.

    I'm not talking about "Nation building." I am talking about defeating armed rebels so as political progress can take place - to paraphrase the Sultan of Oman.
    True, you don't understand; and

    True it is a realatively straight forward matter to employ the military to kill the armed rebelling element of one's populace.

    The hard part is resolving the reasons why they were acting that way. Defeating insurgents is easy (relatively); defeating insurgency typically requires the government to change how it does business. Dave talks about how to change the popualce. Governments like to hear that.

    I talk about changing the government. They don't like to hear that.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  13. #353
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    like my favorite insurgent is Martin Luther King achieving his political aims nonviolently. But, from what I've experienced and studied, those instances are typically outliers

    Another name for nonviolent revolutionaries is a (small) footnote in a history book.

  14. #354
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Another name for nonviolent revolutionaries is a (small) footnote in a history book.
    I doubt MLK Jr. or Gandhi count as just small footnotes, unless the history book you're reading from is seriously defective.

  15. #355
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default Late to the coversation, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    analysis on Indonesia which is a place where some believe is the next major hot spot in the global insurgency.
    Who says this, and where? I'd be curious about the supporting arguments, as I'm reasonably familiar with the situation and I don't see it that way at all.

    Of course I also think the "global insurgency" construct is a deeply stretched idea that is more harmful than helpful, so perhaps I shouldn't be asking about it!

  16. #356
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    True it is a realatively straight forward matter to employ the military to kill the armed rebelling element of one's populace.
    Well it takes a good deal of skill to do well, but I concur.
    The hard part is resolving the reasons why they were acting that way. Defeating insurgents is easy (relatively); defeating insurgency typically requires the government to change how it does business.
    True but irrelevant. They can complain all they like once they give up their guns. Until they do that, political resolution is pointless and merely rewards their aggression.
    The ONLY thing the military can do if force compliance and control, via use of armed force.
    Dave talks about how to change the popualce. Governments like to hear that.

    I talk about changing the government. They don't like to hear that.
    But Dave's off his reservation, and you risk undermining the policy of those you work for.
    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

  17. #357
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Concur with Dayuhan 100%

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Who says this, and where? I'd be curious about the supporting arguments, as I'm reasonably familiar with the situation and I don't see it that way at all.

    Of course I also think the "global insurgency" construct is a deeply stretched idea that is more harmful than helpful, so perhaps I shouldn't be asking about it!
    I worked the Southeast Asia mission for over 4 years, and many kept trying to make Indonesia into a big problem. "Most populous Muslim nation," so must be a hotbed of insurgency, right? Send a tremendous number of workers to the Middle East, so must be a pipeline of terror, right? Home of the JI, etc.

    But insurgency isn't about ideology or religion, it is about politics and the relationship between a populace and its government. Indonesia, like most Asian countries, worked through the big legitimacy of governance issues in the post WWII era of insurgency; so is not a real player in the post Cold War era of insurgency that is sweeping those (largely Muslim) nations still heavily under the influence of Colonial Illegitimacy.

    Indonesia is not a problem. We need to work with them as they have a tremendous future that we want to be, need to be for our sake, a part of; but we don't need to "fix" them.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  18. #358
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    But insurgency isn't about ideology or religion, it is about politics and the relationship between a populace and its government.
    What's the difference between ideology and religion and politics and the relationship between a populace and its government? These are all exactly the same thing.
    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

  19. #359
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Seeing COIN as "warfare" and a military led operation clouds clear thought

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Well it takes a good deal of skill to do well, but I concur.

    True but irrelevant. They can complain all they like once they give up their guns. Until they do that, political resolution is pointless and merely rewards their aggression.
    The ONLY thing the military can do if force compliance and control, via use of armed force.

    But Dave's off his reservation, and you risk undermining the policy of those you work for.
    A country in insurgency is by definition one with a government that is inadequate to the task at hand, so the only excess governmental capacity available, the military, is typically brought in to help resolve the problem. This is not a problem of itself. The problems begin when the military takes the lead and naturally shifts the focus of the COIN campaign by doing exactly what Wilf accurately lays out as the military mission and focus: Identify a threat and defeat it.

    I have no problem with any of that. My point is that the rebellion is a symptom of larger problems in the relationship between a populace and its government, and that the Civil authorities must retain lead and retain focus on the larger mission of adjusting their actions to better serve the people as a whole. That militant arm of the movement is typically just the tip of the proverbial populace iceberg that shares similar perspectives.

    Classic COIN is to have a military led operation to shave the top off the iceberg. We all know what happens next, a new tip ultimately emerges. I don't say don't shave the top off, just understand that at best it is a supporting effort to do so, and if done excessively an even larger tip will emerge the next time.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  20. #360
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    [QUOTE=William F. Owen;102233]
    Dave Kilcullen cannot tell you because he can't tell the future. Neither can anyone else. Even if he could it wouldn't have much if any impact on training. Just do the stuff you've had to do in the past.

    Crystal balls are hard to find I agree, but it seems in many facets of human endeavour we are always planning strategies and operations on the past in the hope we will avert a similar tragedy or event in the future.

    Is COIN really any different to the "war" that has been waged in our cities between our social justice systems and a crime, drug and violence fuelled neighbourhood? This sector of our population can feel pretty isolated and lacking in representation so looks to other avenues. The Police, social workers, volunteers, NGOs and Government services try to set in a different levels to counter the criminal and gang activity that exploits this mess. May be we need to hire reformed gang leaders to help with COIN in Afghanistan?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-05-2010 at 07:30 AM. Reason: PM to author about what should be in the quote

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