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  1. #381
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that many (all) roads lead to Rome.

    The emergence of a smart & charismatic politician, an effective domestic intelligence service, an enlargement of the police, a change in economic structure and military action can all lead to the end of an insurgency.

  2. #382
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    If some radical, niche organization takes up arms against the government, with little or no popuular support, it is not an insurgency. These things happen time to time, they create a ripple, and are quickly resolved.
    OK, so the Southern Secessionists in the Civil War had a point? Lincoln failed them?
    Just as all violence is not warfare, similarly all violence wrought by a citizenry against its governemnt is not insurgency.
    Agreed. Warfare has to involve the promotion of a political aim, by violence and has to be of scale where it can reasonably effect policy.
    This goes to my persistent drumbeat that one must first seek to understand the purpose for an orgnization's violent acts, and address them as defined by that purpose, and not by the simple fact that they opt to employ violent means.
    Why should I seek to make peace with or in anyway ameliorate the agendas of those I dislike to the point of violence? Once they use violence against me, why should I listen?
    Besides, when one prys away at the foundation of a structure, it is only a matter of time before the entire thing tumbles down as well.
    - so don't build badly!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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  3. #383
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Ah, another subscriber to the "Pied Piper" theory...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Keep in mind that many (all) roads lead to Rome.

    The emergence of a smart & charismatic politician, an effective domestic intelligence service, an enlargement of the police, a change in economic structure and military action can all lead to the end of an insurgency.
    I find fascinating those who give so little credit to the free will of people, nor attention to history so as to believe that if conditions of good governance exist among a populace, that a dynamic leader can come along with his magic flute of ideology and lead them to their doom... :-)

    I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I had to, becuase a huge segment of the US Government still subscribes to a believe that "Ideology" is the COG for AQ. Really. CR, sure, but COG? I just can't get there.

    I see poor governance as "Causation" (see chart for two-part definition), that dry tinder of conditions among a populace; and that things like ideology and dynamic leadership are "motivaiton" that when applied to the dry tender of poor governance causation will burst into insurgency; but when applied to a satisfied, well governed populace have little to no significant effect.

    I realize I am not in a majority position on this, but I am comfortable with that .
    Robert C. Jones
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    (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. #384
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default OK, WILF, I gotta tell ya, I don't think you brought your "A" game

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    OK, so the Southern Secessionists in the Civil War had a point? Lincoln failed them?

    Agreed. Warfare has to involve the promotion of a political aim, by violence and has to be of scale where it can reasonably effect policy.

    Why should I seek to make peace with or in anyway ameliorate the agendas of those I dislike to the point of violence? Once they use violence against me, why should I listen?
    - so don't build badly!
    1. OF COURSE Southern Seccessionists had a point! Would their point have destroyed America and led to a Europe-like cluster of small countries in North America? Certainly. They felt that States rights were being inappropriately curtailed by National rights, and voted as states to succeed from the Union. This wasn't insurgency, it was divorce. This was not the failure of a single man, it was, however a failure to appreciate the dire consequences of forcing a significant, and geographically united, segement of ones populace to adopt a course that they saw so counter to both their rights as citizens and to their livlihoods. Growing pains of a young nation experimenting with new forms of popular government.

    2. As to your next to last point, I never said you should make peace with those who act illegally to oppose the government in insurgency. I simply said that it isn't war (in a Clauswitzian sense), and that if a true insurgency it is happening for a reason that you must deal with as the COIN government with every bit as much dilligence as you deal with the illegal actors. I would just caution constraint, becuase governments who employ organized violence against their own populaces too freely or injustly (as perceived by the populace, not as rationalized by the government) are on a slippery slope.

    3. Your last point is a shot at the US Declaration of Independence. I don't need to remind you what happened to the last Brit to take that document lightly...
    Last edited by Bob's World; 12-21-2009 at 03:50 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "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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    Default Coming Back to Clausewitz

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post

    2. As to your last point, I never said you should make peace with those who act illegally to oppose the government in insurgency. I simply said that it isn't war (in a Clauswitzian sense), and that if a true insurgency it is happening for a reason that you must deal with as the COIN government with every bit as much dilligence as you deal with the illegal actors. I would just caution constraint, becuase governments who employ organized violence against their own populaces too freely or injustly (as perceived by the populace, not as rationalized by the government) are on a slippery slope.
    I still haven't read anything in this thread that suppports the assertion that Clausewitz isn't relevant. If you choose to think that On War only provides insight when two established states fight each other with militaries, then I think you are overlooking alot.

    Clausewitz talks about the use of violence in the pursuit of policy and the primacy of that policy. He discusses the need for policymakers to understand the strengths and limitations of the forces the use in violance and the peculiar nature of violent conflict itself. Once one side chooses a violent option, things happen that may alter the nature of the policy goals or the route to obtaining them.

    I'm not making the case that he has all the answers, but I think he prompts most of the correct questions.

    Phil Ridderhof

  6. #386
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default If this is true...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I hold strongly to the belief that populaces cannot fail governments, that it is only governments that can fail the populace.
    How do you explain the facts that:

    1. The US voting populace continually elects venal and easily corrupted persons to Congress, a Congress that consistently fails the populace in an effort to buy votes to keep itself in power and thus provides us poor governance partly in an effort to provide, as you suggest to an extent, surety of everything to everyone. That's a patent impossibility. That is a significant failure of the people to the government under which they live.

    2. Your premise that States must "create mechanisms to extend good governance to the entire populace equitably, and with a surity of redress when it inevitably drifts, so that that those same populaces can apply course corrections short of once again taking up arms."would allow a determined minority to effectively mug a government into giving them special treatment which will invariably create other minorities not receiving such treatment and thus create a cycle of unrest which would likely eventually result in the taking up of arms.

    I, as always, admire your idealism but poor governance is not the root of all insurgencies. Most? Yes but not all.

    It is not possible to treat an entire populace equitably because all are not equal in effort they'll expend or in ability and more importantly, in desires and/or needs. They never will be. Even immutable geography can intrude, as can the weather. Nor is it possible to provide surety of redress for the same reasons...

    People are the problem. It's really a shame all will not play by your rules.

  7. #387
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    Default Wilf, good volley

    Posted by Wilf,

    So let us say the Klu Klux Klan or Neo-Nazis start an insurgency in the Southern US with the stated aim of re-introducing segregation. Should those stated aims be considered?

    Let us say you have an ethnically mixed community, where the stronger element seek to ethnically cleanse the minority by violent means. Should their grievances be considered?

    Bob! Why assume that the root cause of insurgency is always the fault of the government? There are many many grievances against governments that do not call for the legitimate use of violence.
    Excellent points, which highlights that not all ideas are acceptable, if they are you don't have government, you have anarchy. I suspect less than 50% of the insurgencies are truly justified by a "bad" government.

    But then we immediately took the position that we were invaders, but as liberators and not occupiers, and that govenrance was in the hands of those respective nations.
    How many communist insurgent groups had "liberation" in their name? National Liberation Fronts were everywhere at the height of the Cold War. Some folks thought they were liberators, and others oppressors. The same rings true today for our activities in CENTCOM, and we're fighting those who see us as oppressors (hard for us to grasp based on our values), but as Wilf pointed out on an earlier post every side thinks they have the moral high ground.

  8. #388
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilR View Post
    I still haven't read anything in this thread that suppports the assertion that Clausewitz isn't relevant.
    Phil/Sir,

    There are some of us who equate the years of relentless attempts to indoctrinate us with a CvC-uber-alles viewpoint as symptomatic of a systemic inability by DOD as a whole to truly see, understand, and formulate cost effective solutions to what is before us. The rhetorical question...if CvC is so great why are we still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? My answer is that a monotheistic belief in CvC and that one great final Fulda Gap battle still clouds a significant part our collective sight.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilR View Post
    Clausewitz talks about the use of violence in the pursuit of policy and the primacy of that policy. He discusses the need for policymakers to understand the strengths and limitations of the forces the use in violance and the peculiar nature of violent conflict itself. Once one side chooses a violent option, things happen that may alter the nature of the policy goals or the route to obtaining them.
    Ich lese Deutsch, spreche Deutsch, habe in Deutschland gewohnt, und I question the ability of translations, and not just ones from German, to fully capture the multidimensional interactions and influences (often time dependent) which create the written word. There is always a loss coefficient as well as an error coefficient associated with any translation.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilR View Post
    I'm not making the case that he has all the answers, but I think he prompts most of the correct questions.
    Agreed, with my caveat that if this were my sentence I would change most to some... no one man or woman has a lock on this complex world.

    Best,

    Steve
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 12-21-2009 at 05:37 PM. Reason: Clarity...
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  9. #389
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    1. OF COURSE Southern Seccessionists had a point! Would their point have destroyed America and led to a Europe-like cluster of small countries in North America? Certainly. They felt that States rights were being inappropriately curtailed by National rights, and voted as states to succeed from the Union. This wasn't insurgency, it was divorce. This was not the failure of a single man, it was, however a failure to appreciate the dire consequences of forcing a significant, and geographically united, segement of ones populace to adopt a course that they saw so counter to both their rights as citizens and to their livlihoods. Growing pains of a young nation experimenting with new forms of popular government. emphasis added mine
    Col Jones,

    To the last statement, isn't that a bit pre-determined/pre-destined or are you just suggesting that 'growing pains' are something all young nations go through?

    Interestingly enough, I was considering the Civil War this weekend while y'all discussed it. I was trying to consider what CvC would have recommended to Lincoln when the first states secceeded from the Union. Both CvC and Machiavelli would probably have recommended to intervene quickly with military force to squash the dissenters. Instead, Lincoln gave the South the time to grow (organize, equip, mobilize, and capitalize on popular support) into a formidable opponent. If he intervened early militarily, then he probably could have stopped or at least postponed the bloody Civil War. However, the political issues of states rights, slavery, race, and equality would still persist. To a degree, these issues persisted violently well into the 1960's, and they are still around today.

    In any case, multiple issues remained. These issues were not simply government, governance, ideology, grievance, or economics. Instead, they were a combination of all parts coupled with escalated emotions to stir the pot. Ken would sum this up as we're humans, and he's right. But, Ken's answer is like me trying to answer any question with METT-TC .

    Thoughts?

    And before everyone gets to busy, just wanted to wish the SWC a Merry Christmas.

    Mike

  10. #390
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Instead, Lincoln gave the South the time to grow (organize, equip, mobilize, and capitalize on popular support) into a formidable opponent.
    Remember that at the time, the U.S. Army was incapable of doing this. Much of its officer corps was in the process of resigning and going South, and the southern states had arguably as much firepower as the U.S. Army at the time.

    Lincoln also had to contend with very strong political forces in the North that would have likely revolted against any preemptive military action to crush secessionism by force. Only when the South Carolinians opened fire on Fort Sumter did Northern opinion galvanize against secession.

  11. #391
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Remember that at the time, the U.S. Army was incapable of doing this. Much of its officer corps was in the process of resigning and going South, and the southern states had arguably as much firepower as the U.S. Army at the time.

    Lincoln also had to contend with very strong political forces in the North that would have likely revolted against any preemptive military action to crush secessionism by force. Only when the South Carolinians opened fire on Fort Sumter did Northern opinion galvanize against secession.
    Always worth remembering as well that the minuscule Regular Army was scattered throughout the western section of the country in a number of 2-3 company posts (or tied down doing what might be considered COIN duty along the Kansas-Missouri border). And in line with the resignation theme, there was some concern as to just how many officers would answer the call and what they might do if they didn't. The outgoing Secretary of War did little to conceal his pro-Southern leanings, and the commander of the department containing Texas surrendered without any resistance at all...turning over all his arms and equipment in the process.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    The rhetorical question...if CvC is so great why are we still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? My answer is that a monotheistic belief in CvC and that one great final Fulda Gap battle still clouds a significant part our collective sight.
    My answer is even the wisest of heads would have found it terribly difficult to steer Afghanistan toward a state fitting the (differing) political intention(s) of members of the coalition with so meager ressources and so great challanges. As a matter of fact "rebuilding" was the buzzword of 2002 and onwards, as the Taliban were widly considered to be beaten. At least that was the impression in West and that impression greatly influenced the amount of ressources at the disposal of the commanders. One can wonder how important that rebuilding really was for the politicians in power. Maybe they were just happy to have done a "great job" at hammering the Taliban and AQ - a very understandable political goal. Maybe they were buMaybe some had grander projects for their (military) might than to use it for rebuilding...

    Lauding and blaming a single imagined factor (in this case CvC) for success or defeat seems a bit simplistic, to say the least. Especially as CvC did consider leadership an important element, but one of a great many. Overall I think that I'm mostly of the same opinon as PhilR.


    Firn


    P.S: Interesting views on the motivations of Lincoln and on the circumstances leading to the war.

    To me it seems that the states in the South had a stronger motivation to fight as many felt their way of life and perhaps their very existence threated by the policy changes of Lincoln. Their rapid (military) mobilization of the population could have surprised the latter and given the dubious and far-flung nature of the Army and the not too great interest in the North he might have ruled out a quick intervention.
    Last edited by Firn; 12-21-2009 at 08:03 PM.

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    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    Lauding and blaming a single imagined factor (in this case CvC) for success or defeat seems a bit simplistic, to say the least.
    Firn,

    Either his work has relevance or it does not, we can't have it both ways. In my view CvC cannot be discarded, but his approach, in isolation, is not enough to accomplish the mission.

    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    My answer is even the wisest of heads would have found it terribly difficult to steer Afghanistan toward a state fitting the (differing) political intention(s) of members of the coalition with so meager ressources and so great challanges.
    One could say that this is the crux of the argument; what is the appropriate mix of centralization and decentralization needed to solve the problem. One possible answer is that all roads lead to a trained cadre of CvC devotees massed upon a FOB somewhere who orchestrate devastating moves and countermoves. Another possible answer consists of various small teams, (familiar with the works of Mao, Che, their Islamic counterparts, and others) who live and work among the populace. I would say from tactical and operational experience in the field that neither group can survive/thrive without the other and that our attempt to destroy wanna-be (counterfactual) Carthaginians requires unity of effort and a non-school solution.

    Best,

    Steve
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 12-21-2009 at 09:03 PM.
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    Surferbeetle,
    We are all prisoners of our experience, both in operations and in learning. By your comments, itís apparent that we have been exposed to Clausewitzís writings in a different manner and have developed different perspectives.

    -Iíll repeat that I donít think that On War provides THE answer, or even many answers. I think that, in its relevant parts (and some of it is still mired in the 19th century), it provides a good description of likely relationships, characteristics to consider and a method with which to thoroughly examine history and contemplate operations. Itís not the book to take into operations with you. However, itís a book to help you think about operations as you examine them in history or hindsight, then apply that gained knowledge to inform judgment in the future.

    -I agree with you on the dangers of translation. I understand that what Iím reading and how Iím interpreting it may be a misreading of German and not what he meant. Frankly, that doesnít matter to me. If trying to pursue ďwhat Clausewitz meantĒ helps me consider the issues and from a different perspective and adds to the critical thinking process, then I welcome it. However, I guess Iím just too post-modern to feel that I am enslaved to his "intent." The book is a springboard.

    -If any writing from the 19th century influenced US tactical doctrine in the Cold War, it is Jomini, with Lines of Operation, Decisive Points, etc. The main piece of On War deployed in this way is the Center of Gravity (COG). I think that itís been hashed over and argued about ad infinitum. I think thatís a good thing if it helps build a better common understanding of a problem and its facets. However, I rarely have the patience to sit through COG discussions in planning when they become rote exercises of breaking down into Critical Requirements, Critical Capabilities, Critical Vulnerabilities, etc. as a means to fill in a matrix.

    -I personally saw a lot of Clausewitzís influence in Maoís writings (whether by design or happenstance).

    -Iíve been arguing Clausewitz in this forum because that is the stated subject of the thread. Its not the be all, end all. However, Iíll admit that if you agree with what he writes, you will find yourself disagreeing with other theorists who are more sure of the universality of their specific conclusions and statements on conflict.
    s/f
    Phil Ridderhof

  15. #395
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    For the record, I think CvC is a valuable resource; so long as one takes into account what type of conflict one is dealing with when applying his theories. That is why I initiated this thread in the first place, because I had stumbled across a paper written by a CGSC student years ago that I felt took a worthy stab at doing that.

    Ken mentions that people do stupid things when it comes to selecting their governance. Amen to that. But People are human. The faults of the masses does not somehow aquit leaders for their failures. Leadership failures are natural too. As is insurgency. These are all natural conditions of people living together collectively. That is why a study of human dynamics is every bit as helpful to understanding insurgency as a study of warfare is.

    Bill mentions that invaders often cloak themselves as liberators, and that to the "liberated" populace that is a rather moot point. Exactly. Damn hard stunt to pull of to invade a country, create a new government there, and then have that populace thank you and recognize the legitimacy of that government as coming from them, and not you. All the same, that does not make us the COIN force, it just makes the job of the COIN force harder, and certainly makes our job as the FID force harder. All the more reason to avoid such situations all together where possible.

    Good thoughts all.
    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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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I hold strongly to the belief that populaces cannot fail governments, that it is only governments that can fail the populace.
    True enough, but the assumption of "a government" and "a populace" does not always hold together. Populaces are rarely uniform; they may in some cases be bitterly divided - particularly in countries where post-colonial borders have lumped traditional antagonists into a single "nation". One segment of a populace may find a government completely acceptable while another may find it utterly unacceptable. An insurgency does not of necessity consist of "a populace" fighting "a government"; it's as likely to result from one segment of a populace fighting another, while a government either takes sides (generally aggravating the problem) or looks on helplessly.

    Any perception of populace-based warfare that assumes a monolithic populace will often be inconsistent with reality.

  17. #397
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Concur completely

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    True enough, but the assumption of "a government" and "a populace" does not always hold together. Populaces are rarely uniform; they may in some cases be bitterly divided - particularly in countries where post-colonial borders have lumped traditional antagonists into a single "nation". One segment of a populace may find a government completely acceptable while another may find it utterly unacceptable. An insurgency does not of necessity consist of "a populace" fighting "a government"; it's as likely to result from one segment of a populace fighting another, while a government either takes sides (generally aggravating the problem) or looks on helplessly.

    Any perception of populace-based warfare that assumes a monolithic populace will often be inconsistent with reality.
    "The populace" is a bit of a blanket term, but you are absolutely correct that assessment and engagement must be made and tailored respectively village by village, valley by valley, city by city, provence by provence, etc. No one size fits all.

    But the fact that the populace is a mosaic of perspectives and issues does not change the dynamic between the governned and those who govern, it simply goes to the complexity of the challenge, and why good local governance is so important, and why good representation of local issues is so valuable to a central government, and why local representatives of the central government should be of, by and for the local communities they serve.

    Be it the King of England granting Governorships to his political supporters and sending them to the Colonies to "represent" the populaces there; or be it Mr. Karzai doing the same in Afghanistan; the effects are both similar and predictable.

    I developed a tool to help focus FID efforts in support of extending good governance in a more focused and effective way that is linked to a form of COG analysis that I think has some merit, and a version of it has been employed over the past couple of years on the ground with some success according to the commander employing it. I have posted a version of it before, but will repost the original model again here.
    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. #398
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default tailoring ones efforts for max effect

    A key point for any COG analysis for insurgency is to first appreciate this one point:

    COIN: In insurgency the insurgent and the counterinsurgent share the same COG. Therefore a COG is not something to be either defeated nor defended, but rather something that one must compete for the support of.


    (I developed a similar process for focusing CT efforts, but that is another story altogether.)

    Oh and I realize nothing sparks a good debate better than COG, so I will simply say that I attempted to stay true to the principles espoused by CvC; I took into account the good work of Dr. Strange and modified it to make more useful sense to me; and read, but largely ignored the highly dogmatic approach currently captured in US Joint Pub Doctrine as being for the most part unhelpful.

    My belief is that neither random acts of charity, nor massive programs of governmental effectiveness are partiularly helpful (acceptable, suitable, feasible) in a COIN / FID effort. That a focused approach is required that is rooted in grass roots assessments.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Bob's World; 12-22-2009 at 04:14 AM.
    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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    Default fighting regardless of the government

    Posted by Dayuhan,
    True enough, but the assumption of "a government" and "a populace" does not always hold together. Populaces are rarely uniform; they may in some cases be bitterly divided - particularly in countries where post-colonial borders have lumped traditional antagonists into a single "nation". One segment of a populace may find a government completely acceptable while another may find it utterly unacceptable. An insurgency does not of necessity consist of "a populace" fighting "a government"; it's as likely to result from one segment of a populace fighting another, while a government either takes sides (generally aggravating the problem) or looks on helplessly.

    Any perception of populace-based warfare that assumes a monolithic populace will often be inconsistent with reality.
    No truer words have been written. I think we in the West tend to oversimplify our world into a bi-polar world (them and us), or in some cases a tri-polar world (we're helping them against them) while fully knowing that isn't the reality, yet we still make decisions based on our simplistic view that fits nicely in models and on power point slides.

    I don't buy the argument that all insurgencies are due to government failure. There are certainly cases where this is true, but there are also many other examples where it isn't. There are (and have been) wars amongst people based upon hate and greed that have little or nothing to do with the government or governments that reign over this hostile human terrain. These conflicts emerge regardless of how well the government runs its courts, picks up the trash and provides ample drinking water. In many cases the government will be unable to do anything but apply military force to stop the violence (or to choose a side and join in the killing as Serbia and others have done). To simply assume the populace is the COG can be misleading, because in many, if not most, cases there is no monolithic population to win over.

    The norm is we pick a side, and that often involves picking a partner or partners (coalition). Most recently we have picked Karzai (a lame horse if there ever was one) in Afghanistan and the Shi'a and Kurds in Iraq. A segment of the population is now oppressed and dishonored, scared, and many times displaced, they are not liberated, their grievances are not addressed, so in fact we have set the conditions for continued conflict.

    Ethnic wars, class wars, street gangs fighting for the same drug market, or foreign sponsored violence within another's borders, etc., demonstrate that violence is not always tied to ineffective governance. This is also true with insurgencies, but they are always tied in various forms to competing agendas. As Thucydides wrote, war is driven by fear, honor, and interest. This still seems to ring true today.

    The populace can only be a COG if you pursue a population centric approach. Very easy to say, very hard to do in a foreign culture where we push our values upon a culture that doesn't accept them. For us to be effective at population centric approaches we need to learn to be morally flexible, which is just as important as being culturally aware. It doesn't really matter if you understand a tribal method for enforcing local laws, if you disagree with their due process and attempt to change it.

    We'll continue to harp the population centric approach and talk to one another about it until we think we're pro's at it, but all this time we'll refuse to really listen to the locals (the population) to see what they're telling us. We'll them we're too busy working on models to determine what they need. Go back to your village, and once we figure it out we'll come riding into town on our white horses to save the day. It is the American way of war. You're slide simply supports that.

    Perhaps an acceptable outcome in Afghanistan is within grasp if we would just listen to the Afghan people and not the Karzai government, but I suspect Iraq will be another matter altogether, as border nations can and likely will provide sufficient bad influence to keep fanning the flames of instability.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 12-22-2009 at 04:42 PM. Reason: Clarification

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    As complex as this diagram is, it seems to leave out some key problems. Most prominently, I don't see any recognition of the presence of the host nation government, national and local, and where it stands in the process of converting concepts to interagency tasks. Whose agencies are we talking about? Who controls them, and what influence can they reasonably be expected to wield?

    When we look for irritants that lead some to oppose the status quo, even to the extent of initiating or supporting insurgency, we also have to recognize that there are likely to be others that have a powerful stake in sustaining that same status quo. Those others may in some cases be attached to a government we support, parroting our rhetoric in our presence and pursuing their own agendas in our absence.

    The situations we are dealing with are anything but simple: there are national and local governments, often working in quite different directions. There are armies, police forces, independent militias, different insurgent groups; in each case the any given subset of these institutions is likely to have its allegiance determined by expedience. Cutting across all of these there will be clan or tribal affiliations and business/financial connections. All through this there are agendas, institutional, personal, and often radically opposed to one another, being pursued by people and groups who are willing to use violence, or to try and manipulate a foreign power (often us) to get what they want. As an intervening power we have our own agenda, and compelling as it may seem to us, it's likely that nobody else in the picture gives a damn about it, and that anyone who seems to be right on the page with us is probably working us to their own advantage.

    It gets sloppy, to say the least.

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