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

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Thread: The David Kilcullen Collection (merged thread)

  1. #421
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Kilcullen @ Oxford University

    The Changing Character of War programme's annual lecture @ Oxford, has David Kilcullen speaking on Monday 18th November 2013; the event is open to the public and the venue is the Examination Schools, High Street.

    Link:http://ccw.history.ox.ac.uk/2013/10/...-lecture-2013/
    davidbfpo

  2. #422
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    Default The David Kilcullen Collection (merged thread)

    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-12-2014 at 11:22 AM. Reason: Copied for reference from SWJ Blog

  3. #423
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    Default Kilcullen Speaks: On COIN Going Out of Style, His Recent Book, Syria, and More

    Kilcullen Speaks: On COIN Going Out of Style, His Recent Book, Syria, and More

    Entry Excerpt:



    --------
    Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
    This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

  4. #424
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Worth reading

    Finally had time to read 'Out of the Mountains'. It is a good easy read, with examples given for each point, some from his most recent consultancy work with Caerus Associates, his own experiences and a host of footnotes - alas at the back.

    Given his thesis that the future is urban guerilla warfare in the megacities I was surprised he had so little support from those who already face the problems now - such as Mumbai.

    From my armchair I am unconvinced that suffiecent Western understanding will come from the collection and analysis of 'big data' from such places. How much data do megacities produce and is it reliable?

    I was particularly interested in the section on the Mumbai attack by LeT in November 2008, as this supports my viewpoint. Nariman House, the Jewish cultural centre's actual presence was unknown to the local police and intelligence bodies; it had been purchased in 2006. He also refers to those held by LeT were tortured, a claim denied by the Indian authorities and cites only one press report.

    SWJ gets a mention in the acknowledgements:
    By 2000, Dave Dilegge - later a torchbearer for the insurgency of ideas through the small Wars Jourbnal - had founded a community of interests around his Urban Operations Journal.
    davidbfpo

  5. #425
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Finally had time to read 'Out of the Mountains'. It is a good easy read, with examples given for each point, some from his most recent consultancy work with Caerus Associates, his own experiences and a host of footnotes - alas at the back.

    Given his thesis that the future is urban guerilla warfare in the megacities I was surprised he had so little support from those who already face the problems now - such as Mumbai.

    From my armchair I am unconvinced that suffiecent Western understanding will come from the collection and analysis of 'big data' from such places. How much data do megacities produce and is it reliable?

    I was particularly interested in the section on the Mumbai attack by LeT in November 2008, as this supports my viewpoint. Nariman House, the Jewish cultural centre's actual presence was unknown to the local police and intelligence bodies; it had been purchased in 2006. He also refers to those held by LeT were tortured, a claim denied by the Indian authorities and cites only one press report.

    SWJ gets a mention in the acknowledgements:
    On the topic of Kilcullen/"Out of the Mountains" would Brazil's hosting of both the FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics represent a great opportunity to see how the "conflict entrepreneur" and un/self-governed spaces issues are dealt with?

    To me, Brazil's favelas seem like the best laboratories to see how megaslum governance and management solutions play out(or don't).

    Such as the Brazil's Pacifying Police Unit(UPP).

    Worthy of separate thread? Or closely related enough to "Out of the Mountains" to be incorporated into a single thread?

    If there's one place I'd like to be on the ground to learn and understand in the next two years would be Brazil's favelas.

    Moderator's Note

    New thread Out of the mountains into the slums? created following suggestion:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=20687
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-20-2014 at 03:15 PM. Reason: add note

  6. #426
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Kilcullen says: 'We’re worse off today than before 9/11'

    Just found this long newspaper article by David Kilcullen, a COIN SME, on an Australian website and starting to read it:http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opin...4aee8e279aa009

    Added: this link is without an obstactle (tks to Bill M. overnight: http://www.terrorismwatch.org/2014/1...terrorism.html

    He opens with:
    After 13 years, thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, we’re worse off today than before 9/11, with a stronger, more motivated, more dangerous enemy than ever.

    Whatever the reason — and there’s more than enough blame to go around, in many countries and on all sides of politics — the #result is that governments are suffering “task saturation”. So much is happening, simultaneously, in so many places that leaders are struggling to decide what to do, in what order. The danger is that we will engage in panicked, knee-jerk #responses rather than taking time to consider what an effective strategy looks like.



    (Later) In short, what we’ve been doing has failed: we need a complete rethink. That rethink, I would suggest, needs to start with a threat analysis. What exactly is the threat we’re facing and how can we address it in ways that are cheap enough, effective enough and non-intrusive enough to be sustainable across the long term, without undermining the openness, democracy and prosperity that make our societies worth defending in the first place?
    He does have some thoughts on a 'new' strategy, which on my first read appear to be "old wine in a new bottle" and just maybe aimed just at an Australian audience.


    There is a 'Kilcullen collection' where this maybe merged to one day.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-05-2014 at 10:03 AM. Reason: Add 2nd link
    davidbfpo

  7. #427
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    I can't totally agree with the assessment that we are worse off today than prior to 9/11. That assessment pretends that we could have responded differently. Perhaps a different President would not have invaded Iraq, but arguing the past is a bit of a waste of time. The reality is that, we, Western Nations, have come to believe our own hype. "Democracy is the answer", regardless of the question. The result is that we fail to ever understand the rest of the world. Why should we? They are all either trying to be like us or jealous of what we have. We cannot begin to understand the deep desire for belonging, and revenge, that drives many terrorists. Nearly fifteen years later we still see things in black and white, good and evil.

    I disagree with the assessment that our politicians suffer from "task saturation." That assessment assumes we have a the ability to alter many factors that are far beyond our control. One of which is human nature. We believe that "if we have then by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow." No different than we believed in Vietnam. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Until we understand human nature, we will never win. Heck, we won't even understand what winning should look like. Our politicians don't understand it. Our military actively tries not to understand it.

    And so we stubble like a blind man in the darkness, never even trying to look for the light.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
    ---

  8. #428
    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Anyone find a copy of this piece that is not behind the firewall? I do not have a subscription to The Australian.

    Thanks
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

  9. #429
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Once again, Kilcullen is half right and too threat centric in his thinking (yes, being "population centric to defeat the threat is still a form of being threat centric).

    Any sane assessment clearly indicates we are worse of than when we started. So no arguments there. But when one's tactics fail to yield the strategic results one hopes for, it is not a failure of threat analysis, it is a failure of problem analysis.

    In so many ways, the threats we have pursued have certainly been problematic, but they have more importantly been just dangerous symptoms of the deeper problems in the growing rifts between a wide range of population groups and the systems of governance that affect their lives.

    We need to re-think the problem. Thinking about it in tactical threat centric terms has led to equally tactical threat-based successes. These types of successes tend to only last so long as energy is applied to hold them in some static state, and then roar back larger than ever due to the actual problem having been made worse through the effort.
    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)

  10. #430
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    Most of his recommendations seem reasonable until we get to the last one.

    Until Western powers commit to the ultimate replacement of the Assad regime with a transitional unity or ultimately a secular democratic government — something the original democracy protesters called for in 2011, right at the beginning of the war — it’s hard to imagine any Syrian volunteering to fight with us against Islamic State. In any case, it will be months or more before Iraqi and Syrian forces are sufficiently trained to take the fight forward effectively.
    I agree Assad is a thug that ultimately needs to go. Frankly, it surprised that a man with his level of education responded to the Syrian Spring in such an inept manner, but he did and there is no going back to fix it. I'm not implying education makes one a saint, but from purely practical manner (survival of the regime), his response in 2011 needed to be a different approach than his father's heavy handed approach. The world has changed, and Assad should have recognized that.

    The problem with Kilcullen's recommendation is this is so easy to say, and nearly impossible to do in a country that is divided in multiple factions. We removed abusive regimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, but what followed didn't get us closer to our desired goals of reduced radicalization and increased stability. There are multiple reasons why, but those same reasons exist in Syria. Agree we need to completely rethink our strategy, but I don't see answers to the perplexing problem of what follows Assad on the near horizon. It isn't only local politics, but regional and non-regional countries who will keep their fingers in the pie to shape the situation in Syria to their advantage, not the advantage of the Syrian people. As he points out, the solution isn't a country solution, it must be a regional solution, and in some cases a global solution.

    Kilcullen identified a threat that I dwell on frequently. We have many people in our ranks who dismiss threats that are not existential, but they only see existential threats as physical destruction. In the U.S., members of the military take an oath to defend the Constitution. If the ideas in the Constitution are threatened with our potential over or even appropriate reaction to threats (paramilitary police forces), then the our founding ideas are threatened, and that is a form of an existential threat. We can't afford to look at this purely in conventional terms of force on force.

  11. #431
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Bill,

    I think our own approaches to the events of 9/11 have been far more damaging to the ideals contained within the US Constitution, the US Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence than anything done anywhere by any of our perceived "threats."

    I will agree that dealing with Assad is not the key, and certainly not one we are postured to turn. We do, however, need to recognize that ISIL is the government of a newly emergent Sunni Arab State, and that the "defeat" of ISIL does not solve the problem, it only knocks it back into being a Sunni Arab Revolutionary Insurgency. Worse, it makes that population even less likely to listen to what the US has to say on how to move forward in addressing the very real and reasonable concerns these Sunni Arabs have with continuing to live under the Shia dominated governments of Syria and Iraq.

    Better we focus on what we still retain some degree of control over, and work to offer to the Sunni the same partial-sovereignty package we shaped for the Kurds. This would have to be complete with some scheme for revenue sharing between the three primary systems of governance that is tied more to population than to geography.

    When we tell the average Sunni that we are against ISIL, but not them - and in the same breath say we are dedicated to restoring the Iraqi state, it simply does not resonate. We drive the people into ISIL's arms with this policy.

    So, to reiterate my concern with Dave Kilcullen - he is too threat-centric, and only offered a strategy that suggested one could defeat an insurgent threat by bribing a population to accept the status quo of governance they are revolting against.

    We must become problem-centric. The Sunni Arab population of Syria and Iraq have a reasonable concern and are acting out to resolve it. So far, ISIL is the only one offering a realistic solution. We need to offer a better solution if we hope to outcompete ISIL and render them moot.

    Bob
    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)

  12. #432
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    It is a good article as far as we must face the primary situation from the stand point that we failed! From that start point we can begin to move forward. My suggestion is neither threat or problem based but purpose based....ask why it is the purpose of the USA to fix a failing Islamic belief system in the first place?

  13. #433
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    I think our own approaches to the events of 9/11 have been far more damaging to the ideals contained within the US Constitution, the US Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence than anything done anywhere by any of our perceived "threats."
    Bob, that was my point, it is matter of choices. The threats to our security are certainly real enough, but we have choices on how we respond to them. President Bush did a lot of positive things for homeland security, but his use of his narrative that accused anyone who questioned it as "being weak on terror" took us back to an era of McCarthyism. Now that we're in another era of excessive partisanship politics, politicians are reluctant to get stuck with that label by fear mongers.

    When we tell the average Sunni that we are against ISIL, but not them
    When you make statements like this, I think you are clinging to your political model even when it isn't relevant. There are clearly many Sunnis who reject ISIL, to include the 300 and some executed fairly recently. You can certainly tell the average Sunni in the region we're against ISIL and not them, and they'll probably get that. What they'll wonder is if we'll back them up if rise up against ISIL, and so far we haven't demonstrated that we will.

    You paint the picture as black and white, and I don't see it that way. First, this is not a conflict being fought by strictly local fighters, there are thousands of foreign fighters supporting ISIL for a larger vision than resolving local political issues. All politics are not local, and they haven't been for a long time. Second, there are wars within wars. No doubt most Sunnis despise the former Iraqi government run by Maliki. I have no idea how they feel about the new one, but it would seem logical they would either want to replace the Shia led government, or seek an independent state. However, that doesn't mean they want to align with ISIL.

    These models won't be solved by applying simple models. It is worthwhile to look at them through the optic of many models to gain a better understanding, but ultimately Kilcullen is right in my opinion when he states we need to start all over.

  14. #434
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    This is very much political for the Sunni Arabs is Syria and Iraq - that is the primary energy source that defines this conflict. Sunnis and Shia from around the globe for their own reasons - mostly, I suspect, to help shape the broader Sunni/Shia competition this political conflict takes place within. ISIL? They saw a parade that no one else either could lead or dared to try. They have created and now lead a de facto state. This makes them both more successful and more vulnerable than AQ at once and for the same reasons.

    So yes, my model is simple, but it is not simplistic like the models applied by so many "experts" who see ISIL as being no different than AQ; and who don't appreciate that a tangible physical state makes ISIlL weaker and more vulnerable, not stronger.

    Solve the Sunni governance problem first, and the rest will fall into a manageable place. Ignore the governance problem, and get ready for the very similar Kurdish situation in Turkey to go hot next. An avoidable tragedy that we are nudging toward the brink...
    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)

  15. #435
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    Agree the political problem needs to be solved, but that isn't the same as saying ISIL represents the Sunni political view. The difference isn't subtle.

  16. #436
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Bill,

    Best I can tell only a small minority of the locals or the foreign fighters buy into the political viewpoint of ISIL - but most all buy into the need for some sort of Sunni governed space in that region and the need to restore new stability to the current competition for where the line between Sunni and Shia influence lies. ISILis the only one stepping up to lead that effort. The US needs to own the fact that what we did in Iraq is what put both of those issues in play.

    In this regard ISIL is very much like the Nazi party in Post WWI Germany. Few Gwrmans bought into their extreme ideology or approaches - but virtually all Germans believed in the need to turn back the injustices of Versailles.

    When people need a ride desperately enough, and only one bus is coming around, they tend to get on the bus.

    Who, besides ISIL is offering a solution to the fundamental problems at the root of this conflict?? Not the US with this new approach (that I believe the President was bullied into taking once the two beheadings occurred). We were doing better before, but needed a much clearer narrative and stated goals for our strategy.

    if we truly stand for what we say we do as a nation, we need to champion an approach that is about evolving toward a more sustainable political future for the region, not simplistically trying to defeat those we deem as beyond the pale and to restore the obsolete and illegitimate political structures that brought us here to begun with.

    Either way, I don't know how Turkey does not soon devolve as well into a similar conflict for a new, more legitimate governance for the Kurds. Turkey should be pressing for Civil Rights reforms similar to what the US wisely adopted in the 60s if they want any hope of staving off revolution and possible civil war.

    As is often the case, governments hold both the primary cause and cure in their hands, but also the ability to simplistically employ legal violence to force the increasingly unsustainable status quo. Most opt for the latter.
    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)

  17. #437
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Guy Fawkes meets David Kilcullen

    I have now re-read the original article, in which David K. refers to four threats - for Australia and others. Those threats are:
    domestic radicalisation, foreign fighters, the effect of Islamic State on regional and global jihadist groups, and the destabilising effect of conflict in the Middle East.
    Guy Fawkes was a Catholic radical who in 1605 attempted to blow up the British parliament in London, effectively to decapitate the establishment and is marked each 5th November with bonfires, fireworks and in places more. This article links him to the contemporary scene:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/1...r-change.html?

    Here are key passages reagrding domestic radicalisation:
    ..the mobilising effect of overseas terrorist groups on people in our own societies — is the most immediate threat.....The randomness, unpredictability and copycat nature of these attacks, which require little preparation, give few warning signs, and are difficult to prevent, is what makes them so terrifying. Attackers are often disenfranchised, alienated, marginalised young people, frequently converts: society’s losers, who see radical Salafi-jihadist ideology as a way to be part of something big, historic and successful. They’re not really self-radicalised. Rather, they often access online terrorist materials (increasingly in English) for inspiration, instruction and training, or link up online with radicals who groom them for action.Defeating this threat is partly a matter of community policing to identify and engage at-risk individuals, and partly a matter of detecting and monitoring access to online forums, radicalisation networks, social media and online training materials.
    Despite the fear these attacks create, police and intelligence agencies have a pretty good handle on this type of threat, but in the long term this brings a potential cost to civil liberties and community cohesion.
    I have doubts that in reality anyone officially has a 'handle' on this problem, that includes the police and intelligence agencies. Too many of those id'd as 'at risk' here suffer from mental illnesses, not radicalism. 'Detecting and monitoring' sounds neat, it is not and for this threat threatens more of what we seek to defend.
    davidbfpo

  18. #438
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    David, besides on the part of government officials, we are not dealing with mass hysteria or temporary insanity, either one.

    Sure, many will simply act out for any good (or bad) excuse, but the reality is that for populations everywhere around the world in the current environment, the expectations of governance of the people are evolving faster than governments are able, willing, or even aware of the need, to adjust.

    Not massive change, often just subtle adjustments.

    In the US we can vote out an excessively liberal and ineffective agenda over night on a set time schedule through legal means. Most are not so lucky.
    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)

  19. #439
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Killcullen: State of fear outgrows insurgency label

    David Killcullen has written a journal article on ISIS and 'The Age' has an extract today and he expects many will not like his viewpoint:
    Over time, I've come to believe that Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS and ISIL) is more than any of these things. In my view, ISIS is fundamentally a state-building enterprise. Simply put, the Islamic State is, or is on the verge of becoming, what it claims to be: a state.
    Typically he can hit home tersely:
    ISIS as a state has two critical military weaknesses. One is territorial, the other a question of personnel....This renders it highly vulnerable to interdiction: it's a "network state" that can be defeated piecemeal if sufficient pressure is brought to bear on the connections between its constituent cities.

    Sure, ISIS uses exemplary violence as an instrument of policy and a means of terrifying its enemies, but so do plenty of states. As Audrey Cronin has persuasively argued, ISIS "uses terrorism as a tactic, [but] it is not really a terrorist organisation at all ... it is a pseudo-state led by a conventional army. And that is why the counterterrorism and counter-insurgency strategies that greatly diminished the threat from al-Qaeda will not work against ISIS."
    I'd quibble with the term "pseudo-state", but I couldn't agree more with Cronin about the inapplicability of counterterrorism and counter-insurgency strategies.
    Link:http://www.theage.com.au/world/isisi...6-gh37wb.html?

    There is an extensive thread 'The David Kilcullen Collection (merged thread)', with 400 plus posts and 111k views and yes into which this may be merged one day:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=12934

    The full essay is due out on May 20th, I expect it is behind a paywall:https://www.quarterlyessay.com/essay/2015/05/blood-year
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-17-2015 at 05:37 PM.
    davidbfpo

  20. #440
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    We've been talking about ISIS as the government of the de facto Sunni Arab state for months now. No news there. All this says is that Dave reads SWJ too...
    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)

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