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Thread: Well, is the SWC "kill, kill, kill the leadership" fever over finally?

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Default Well, is the SWC "kill, kill, kill the leadership" fever over finally?

    Maybe it's because Wilf stopped posting, maybe for other reasons; I seem to sense that the craze about how killing leaders supposedly wins wars is largely over?



    Here are two articles that should be relevant for those who are still infected with that nasty fever:

    Killing Drug Cartel Bosses Isn’t Working, Says Top U.S. General

    The decapitation strategy — they’ve been successful at that. Twenty-two out of the top 37 trafficking figures that the Mexican government has gone after have been taken off the board,” Gen. Charles Jacoby, commander of U.S. Northern Command, said during testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Then, a caveat: “But it has not had an appreciable effect — an appreciable, positive effect.


    How to get rid of Konys

    It is no coincidence that there is a civil war in northern Uganda nor that Kony is still on the loose. There are good reasons for the conflict and once you recognize that, then an implication is that just killing Kony will not solve the problem, there will be many other potential Konys.
    same link also with reference to Colombia:

    The long standing leader Tirofijo died of natural causes in May 2008 before he could be eliminated and just two months earlier FARC’s spokesman and Secretariat member Raúl Reyes was killed by the government in Ecuador. Yet the deaths of Tirofijo and Reyes led not to peace but another bad guy leader Alfonso Cano who was killed by the government and their high tech equipment in November 2011. But now there is just another bad guy leading the FARC by the name of Timochenko. Maybe the problem in Colombia is not just bad guys, and the solution to the civil war is not simply the elimination of bad guys but a resolution of the political and economic problems that create the war.

    I'm beginning to feel like an old man, given the pace at which military theory BS pops up and goes down while I sit through it.
    It's probably a symptom of our gross cluelessness about actual warfare. After all, we had only ####ty small war experiences for two generations, observed some not really telling wars between distant countries and had no great war for two generations.
    A lot of mil theory BS popped up and was debated seriously back when this was an accurate description for the last time; prior to 1914.

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    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Specifically targeting leadership may not have any appreciable effect for, as your links show, someone else will rise to take the reigns.

    However, I have seen good arguments for killing insurgents. From what I understand, there has been some achievements in areas like Kandahar and Helmand where area denial and plain ole' attrition has insurgents reeling tactically.

    That being said, tactical victories are only part of the equation - strategy is about convincing the enemy to quit pursuing his ends and if you can't get that right, then your tactical victories amount to nothing.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Fuchs: That story you linked to about Kony is a little strange. Through the whole story they write as if he were still in Uganda and only get around to saying he was out of the country in the last paragraph. They also talk as if there were an ongoing civil war in Uganda. I think there is some conflict but nothing rising to the level of a civil war, not like in the old days anyway.

    The story is tendentious and ignores certain critical points when talking about the LRA, such as support by the Khartoum gov.

    I think your broad point has merit but I must disagree in the case of the LRA. It is a personality driven bandit cult more than anything else right now and if they do kill Kony, that will be it for the LRA.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I think your broad point has merit but I must disagree in the case of the LRA. It is a personality driven bandit cult more than anything else right now and if they do kill Kony, that will be it for the LRA.
    Well, his lieutenants have nowhere to go and it's been an old concern that they'd just go on if Kony dies.
    The authors of the article are -judged by their other posts- more interested in general patterns than the specific case. In regard to the LRA, they suppose that the Ugandan government will keep provoking violent resistance in the north, and that doesn't need to ttake the shape of the LRA at all.

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    Kill, kill, kill the leadership? I won't speak for wilf, but I never got the sense that he, nor anyone else here that i can recall, subscribed to such a theory.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    In regard to the LRA, they suppose that the Ugandan government will keep provoking violent resistance in the north, and that doesn't need to ttake the shape of the LRA at all.
    Sorry, but no. The article does exactly what Carl says: it distorts facts to support the conclusion that the only way to solve the problem is to "fix" the governments involved... without, of course, proposing any reasonably possible way that this goal might be accomplished.

    The conclusion of the article:

    To finally get rid of Kony himself and the spectre of future Konys, the Ugandan political system needs to become more inclusive — and understanding African history would also help.
    Changing Ugandas political system will not get rid of Kony, who separated from his Acholi base years ago and no longer relies on it for support. Understanding African history is a worthy goal, but in itself it isn't going to get rid of Kony or prevent the emergence of future Konies. The claim that Western understanding of African history will prevent this sort of problem assumes that the key to preventing such problems lies with the West, hardly a supportable proposition.

    Transforming African governance would indeed reduce the spectre of further Konies, but it's not something that any amount of Western benevolence is going to accomplish.

    Of course it's true that removing Kony would not completely eliminate the threat of the LRA, but the grouip is in many ways a cult, not a criminal or insurgent organization, and its coherence and identity depend largely on the personal charisma and aura of superstition that emanate from Kony. Take him away and you have a scattered bunch of armed men... a problem, but by no means an unfamiliar one, and a less serious one than currently exists.

    "Get Kony" isn't an absolute or total solution, but at least it's possible, which I can't say for the "fix Africa" proposition.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Dayuhan, keep in mind the context of that blog. They promote their book about (non)developing countries blockades of development.

    They're not intervention doctrine writers and not particularly interested in the specific case. Perfectly accurate choice of words is not their imperative; getting attention and making readers curious through interesting snippets is their point (and maybe some desire to just promote a better understanding of developing countries).


    I've been in the consulting business for a while and learned long ago that it's important to adapt to the client's preferences and situation. Likewise, reading an article requires to keep the author's background in mind.
    Their background is not an interest in the intervention side of small wars; they look at the roadblocks for development in the former Third World.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    I don't see that as an excuse for inaccuracy or distortion, and I don't see any substantial comment of the obstacles to development either. A load of bollocks remains a load of bollocks regardless of the author's background.

    I won't be buying the book.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Maybe it's because Wilf stopped posting, maybe for other reasons; I seem to sense that the craze about how killing leaders supposedly wins wars is largely over?
    Who ever said that?

    Seriously now that you are older and have time on your hands you will have time to read.

    You may come across this gem from Liddell-Hart:

    A plan, like a tree, must have branches if it is to bear fruit. A plan with a single aim is apt to prove a barren pole.
    ...but you can be forgiven if 'the plan' is biased towards special forces type operations because the senior commanders come from that background and seem incapable of conceiving operations which require more than one or two helicopter loads of 'men in black'.

    Any appreciation on an assassination must have the most important question answered before the ops planning even starts and that is the effect on the enemy of the particular individual being taken out.

    Now the killing of lower level military commanders is normal operations and the same appreciation requirement holds especially in terms of the return on the effort involved.

    ...but that gets confused when you have 100 odd SAS operators in theatre supported by a task dedicated battalion of paras and probably more dedicated air effort than what is available for the test of the Brit force in theatre. So you have to keep them busy, yes... and this is the (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) kind of 'black ops' stuff they do. For heavens sake don't ask them of the supporting para battalion to do some standard infantry soldiering... they are not into mundane 'green ops' anymore (you will be told). If you want infantry work you will have to find some armour units to do it (which they try to do after a fashion).

    So at a tactical level it is not apparent that the strategy of killing Taliban leaders has worked to the degree anticipated... as the Brit have effectively been defeated militarily in Helmand and the US surge troops are withdrawing in an admission of failure to achieve the mission.

    Even a casual observer will have seen that the US and Brit senior officers have failed due to political micro-management (I'm being kind here because I personally don't believe they have a f***ing clue).

    At a strategic level I do believe that one of the (smaller) branches of the Afghanistan strategy should be to target the likes of Mullah Omar etc... who if killed will (hopefully) be replaced by an even less capable individual.

    ...but the smart question is whether the right people are being targeted at all? How come the US and the British have chosen to cozy up the warlords and the druglords? I would have thought that some of these guys would have been better targets for these 'black night ops'?

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