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Thread: Thesis topic

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    Default Thesis topic

    ALCON:

    Good day! I'm currently in one of those fun military schools and am looking at a thesis topic for a short paper (3-5 pages) that I will look to make into a larger article to publish. Here's a roundabout circle to the finishing point:

    I recently read a lot of articles on the US campaign in the Philippines between 1899-1902. What I realized is that all the COIN lessons I read about in Iraq from Galula, Thompson, etc. were lessons the US Army learned in the Philippines. Yet, we did not codify those lessons in doctrine.

    I'm looking to write a paper that shows the lessons learned in the Philippines and show how they all can be found in FM 3-24. The bottomline is to show that we didn't have to look at colonial campaigns, etc., for COIN lessons (which isn't bad), but that we had learned so many of these lessons 100 years before but forgot them ( and I realize many say the same thing about Vietnam).

    I'm curious if anybody has any ideas concerning this, holes to shoot at, source ideas, etc.

    Thanks in advance for your help in assisting me in refining the topic! Thanks!

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    Default Think about this

    We must learn from lessons past, but we must be sure of the lessons past. The world has grown much since 1902 and the lessons learned may not be what we think they are. Prove it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    We must learn from lessons past, but we must be sure of the lessons past. The world has grown much since 1902 and the lessons learned may not be what we think they are. Prove it.
    And that's what I intend to do. Thanks!

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    Default How about Samar?

    You might want to take a look at Major Waller in Samar...a bit of a side show but a successful and short campaign.
    "If you want a new idea, look in an old book"

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    Quote Originally Posted by tulanealum View Post
    I'm looking to write a paper that shows the lessons learned in the Philippines and show how they all can be found in FM 3-24.
    You might start with the following quotes, and demonstrate what lessons they teach and the form in which these lessons appear in FM 3-24...

    "I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better it will please me. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States.” General Jacob H. Smith said.

    Since it was a popular belief among the Americans serving in the Philippines that native males were born with bolos in their hands, Major Littleton "Tony" Waller asked "I would like to know the limit of age to respect, sir?."

    "Ten years," General Jacob H. Smith said.

    "Persons of ten years and older are those designated as being capable of bearing arms?" "Yes." General Jacob H. Smith confirmed his instructions a second time.
    I personally strung up thirty-five Filipinos without trial, so what was all the fuss over Waller's "dispatching" a few "treacherous savages"? If there had been more Smiths and Wallers, the war would have been over long ago. Impromptu domestic hanging might also hasten the end of the war. For starters, all Americans who had recently petitioned Congress to sue for peace in the Philippines should be dragged out of their homes and lynched.--Colonel Frederick Funston at a banquet in Chicago.
    "Obtain information from natives no matter what measures have to be adopted."--General Adna Chaffee
    "It may be necessary to kill half the Filipinos in order that the remaining half of the population may be advanced to a higher plane of life than their present semi-barbarous state affords."--General William Shafter
    "You never hear of any disturbances in Northern Luzon; and the secret of its pacification is, in my opinion, the secret of the pacification of the archipelago. They never rebel in Northern Luzon because there isn't anybody there to rebel. The country was marched over and cleaned out in a most resolute manner. The good Lord in heaven only knows the number of Filipinos that were put under ground. Our soldiers took no prisoners, they kept no records; they simply swept the country, and, wherever or whenever they could get hold of a Filipino, they killed him. The women and children were spared, and may now be noticed in disproportionate numbers in that part of the island."--From a Republican Congressman, who visited the Philippines during the summer of 1901 Boston Transcript, March 4, 1902
    "Until recently, I had thought that these things (torture) were sporadic and isolated, but I have been forced to the belief that they are but a part of the general plan of campaign." --Senator Joseph Lafayette Rawlins of Utah Philippine Question Up In The Senate, New York Times May 7, 1902
    "The time has come, in the opinion of those in charge of the War Department, to pursue a policy of absolute and relentless subjugation in the Philippine Islands. If the natives refuse to submit to the process of government as mapped out by the Taft Commission, they will be hunted down and will be killed until there is no longer any show of forcible resistance to the American government. The process will not be pleasant, but it is considered necessary."--Boston Advertiser
    Pop-centric it was not.

    Yes, I pulled them off a wiki, easiest way to cut and paste them, but all of these are well documented and widely quoted.
    “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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    Posted by Dayuhan,

    You might start with the following quotes, and demonstrate what lessons they teach and the form in which these lessons appear in FM 3-24...
    That wasn't fair, you contrasted tactics that are known to be effective with the tactics in FM 3-24 that are still looking for a success. While I am certainly not advocating brutality against an innocent people, and the Filipinos were certainly an innocent people who were caught up in world of competing empires, the fact remains if we want to solve a problem using the military, then you have to use the military in the way it is designed to be used. One of the reasons we need to think three times or more before employing the military, and when we do give them clear military objectives. The military is ideally suited to conduct counterguerrilla operations (and no we don't need to kill hundreds and thousands of non-combatants to kill guerrillas, what happened in the Philippines indicates a low level of understanding and skill). On the other hand, we have swung to the opposite end of the spectrum where we attempt to fight the insurgency with nation building. You can see the damage it has done to our force when we have officers embracing the false hope that if we just give the people jobs and push out more propaganda they'll quit fighting (the type of idealistic garbage that FM 3-24 promotes).

    Relevant to the paper the poster wants to write this quote was lifted from the "Decade of War" report. Highly recommend you acquire the report and read it, and then see if your thesis still seems valid.

    "Defense Secretary Stimson, "If there is one outstanding lesson to be gained from prior American experiences in military government, it is the unwisdom of permitting any premature interference by civilian agencies with the Army's basic task of civil administration of occupied areas...in those important American experiences in military government (Civil War, Philippine War, and WWII) where civilian influence was permitted to be exercised, the results were, respectively, demoralizing, costly, and ludicrous." Miller Memorandum, 23 July 1942.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 06-24-2012 at 03:55 AM.

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    The only lesson I see to be drawn from the Philippine-American war is that a disorganized, poorly equipped, untrained insurgency with no external support and no supporting theory, example, or precedent for effective guerrilla warfare can be roundly defeated by an army with almost infinite military superiority and the will to use unrestricted violence against combatants and non-combatants alike. That's not exactly news, and I don't know how relevant that lesson is to any modern conflict, as modern conflicts are generally not fought under those conditions.
    “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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    A good topic to pursue. What you are really looking at IMHO is 'How we record the lessons learnt, using the Phillipines campaign as an example; how do we forget them?'.

    Not sure if 'why we forget' is suitable for a short paper.

    This is a persistent theme on SWC, although scattered around in many threads.
    davidbfpo

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    Thanks for the info so far. Here are some of the lessons that were learned:

    - The Army realized the importance of separating the population from teh guerrillas through a combination of population control and counterinfrastructure measures.

    - The importance of mobility, scouting, march security, native auxiliaries, and aggressive, small-unit action became well understood.

    - An appreciation on the impact of intelligence networks in a counterinsurgency environment.

    - Decentralized effort is best

    - Positive incentives alone will not overcome an insurrection

    - Misconduct by US forces only exacerbated an already delicate situation. Destructive acts makes the guerrilla cause more attractive.

    I'm taking these lessons from Andrew Birtle's book, "US Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1860-1941."

    I realize there were a lot of atrocities committed and that's why the US Army wanted to forget the conflict, but there are lessons there that were learned.

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    Default Lessons recorded

    What you are pointing out is the fact the the Army does a good job of recording lessons and a poor job of learning them. We even record them in doctrine. If you look at the various iterations of Operations (100-5 and 3-0) and those focused on small wars and COIN, you will find all the lessons of wars that date from the Indian campaigns to the present recorded and published. But, you will also find those key lessons disappear as bigger, more conventional wars intervene. So, we tend to have to re-learn old lessons each time we encounter analogous situations.

    Our Marine brothers seem to have done better. Perhaps, it is due tho their expeditionary culture. In any case, they seem to have remembered more from the Small Wars Manual than the Army did of its earlier small wars experiences.

    Bill M. I have to take exception to the argument you made with respect to 3-24. Most of the lessons in 3-24 are, in fact, old lessons found in earleier editions of 100-5 and 100-20 and were applied successfully in many COIN campaigns. They were alos recorded in non-doctrinal books dating back to C. E. Callwell's Small Wars, Sir Robert Thompson's Defeating Communist Insurgency, Sir Frank Kitson's Low Intensity Operations, my (with Max Manwaring) Uncomfortable Wars Revisted, and David Kilcullen's the Accidental Guerrilla.

    Of relevance to Tulanealum's project is James R. Arnold's recent The Moro War.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Thanks for the tip on the Moro book!

    I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but did the Army actually put any of the Philippines lessons in doctrine? I haven't been able to confirm that, if true.

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    What you are pointing out is the fact the the Army does a good job of recording lessons and a poor job of learning them. We even record them in doctrine. If you look at the various iterations of Operations (100-5 and 3-0) and those focused on small wars and COIN, you will find all the lessons of wars that date from the Indian campaigns to the present recorded and published. But, you will also find those key lessons disappear as bigger, more conventional wars intervene. So, we tend to have to re-learn old lessons each time we encounter analogous situations.

    Our Marine brothers seem to have done better. Perhaps, it is due tho their expeditionary culture. In any case, they seem to have remembered more from the Small Wars Manual than the Army did of its earlier small wars experiences.

    Bill M. I have to take exception to the argument you made with respect to 3-24. Most of the lessons in 3-24 are, in fact, old lessons found in earleier editions of 100-5 and 100-20 and were applied successfully in many COIN campaigns. They were alos recorded in non-doctrinal books dating back to C. E. Callwell's Small Wars, Sir Robert Thompson's Defeating Communist Insurgency, Sir Frank Kitson's Low Intensity Operations, my (with Max Manwaring) Uncomfortable Wars Revisted, and David Kilcullen's the Accidental Guerrilla.

    Of relevance to Tulanealum's project is James R. Arnold's recent The Moro War.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Posted by John T.

    What you are pointing out is the fact the the Army does a good job of recording lessons and a poor job of learning them. We even record them in doctrine. If you look at the various iterations of Operations (100-5 and 3-0) and those focused on small wars and COIN, you will find all the lessons of wars that date from the Indian campaigns to the present recorded and published. But, you will also find those key lessons disappear as bigger, more conventional wars intervene. So, we tend to have to re-learn old lessons each time we encounter analogous situations.
    Agree we don't do lessons learned well, the lessons we adapt are generally ephemeral in nature. Since each conflict is different the ephemeral nature of the lessons is acceptable, but as you pointed out in your study many lessons are in fact enduring, and forgetting those is inexcusable.

    Our Marine brothers seem to have done better. Perhaps, it is due tho their expeditionary culture. In any case, they seem to have remembered more from the Small Wars Manual than the Army did of its earlier small wars experiences.
    With the Marines is hard to separate their propaganda from fact, of all the services they are the best at projecting and protecting an image. Credit is still due to their generally superior performance in Small Wars over time, though it would be hard to make a case this is true in Afghanistan. There have been both exceptional and flawed Army and Marine units in this conflict, but after 10 years of conflict we should anticipate both organizations to learn and adapt. In general they have more aggressive officers, have a smaller footprint, they're better organized for this type of mission, generally not an occupation force (thoughout history), more willing to accept risk, etc.

    Bill M. I have to take exception to the argument you made with respect to 3-24. Most of the lessons in 3-24 are, in fact, old lessons found in earleier editions of 100-5 and 100-20 and were applied successfully in many COIN campaigns. They were alos recorded in non-doctrinal books dating back to C. E. Callwell's Small Wars, Sir Robert Thompson's Defeating Communist Insurgency, Sir Frank Kitson's Low Intensity Operations, my (with Max Manwaring) Uncomfortable Wars Revisted, and David Kilcullen's the Accidental Guerrilla.
    Maybe, but the “clear, hold, build approach” is really a nation building approach (the way we do it). It isn’t focused on defeating the insurgency, but building the economy while the insurgents are held at bay. It is a deeply flawed approach in my view, and in fact we don't do the clear well to begin with. We jump right into the build phase with the American Power theory that if we spend more we’ll win, so we throw millions of dollars away (many of them directly to the insurgents, since they do in fact collect taxes). We close our eyes to the fact that the insurgents still run the show in areas we claim to have cleared. Our clear phase is focused on the overt guerrillas (our conventional approach to an unconventional conflict), not removing the insurgent infrastructure. Battle space owners are almost totally focused on nation building and pursuing the IED network, they seem to forget their is a shadow government (often hanging out in the sunlight), propagandists, financiers, etc.). We may actually pull this off in Afghanistan, but it won't be based on our skill, rather the Afghan people rising up to defeat the Taliban despite our many mis-steps.

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    Default Stuff

    Tulanealum, I don't know specifically if anything from the Philippines (1898 - 1913 t include the Moros) filtered directly into army doictrine. My suspicion is that its did but indirectly as we did not publish COIN/Small Wars until post WWII. Some of that came from the Philippines but mainly from the American and Filipino guerrilla war against the Japanese.

    Bill, I don't disagree with your observations about how we interpret and often employ doctrine in practice. But some of that is division of labor. For example, JSOC played the intel driven kinetic role of targetted strikes in both Iraq and A'stan. This was the role played in El Salvador (about which we wrote 100-20) by the Grupo de Operaciones especiales (GOE). We took some of that from Sir Robert Thompson.

    Best

    JohnT

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    Default More to it than military strategy

    You need a longer view of Philippine history.

    The main factor in the US success is that the US displaced the Spanish/Catholic Church. The friars owned the majority of the estates in the Philippines - these lands were offered up to wealthy Filipinos in exchange for their support of US governance. As well, the US gave urban elite Filipinos the opportunity to participate in the new government.

    These two moves deprived the insurgents of the support they would need to wage an effective rebellion against the US.

    The war that was fought was shaped by this as much, if not more, than it was by the tactics or COIN strategy of the US Army.

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    I would caution against taking quotes out of their historical context. There has been a recent surge of politically motivated popular history meant to paint Theodore Roosevelt as the world's greatest human rights abuser responsible (directly or indirectly) for the greatest atrocities of the 20th century, and by extension argue that the US strategy during the Philippine Insurrection was essentially predicated on a policy of war crimes. That nonsense aside, the leading academic historians of the Philippine Insurrection - John Gates, Brian Linn, David Silbey - all agree that the accusations of counterinsurgency predicated on atrocity and war crimes is vastly over-exaggerated. Linn, for example, looks into and refutes the claim that the water cure was used anywhere near the number of times reported. Cases like that of "Hell Roaring Jake" Smith and Major Waller and the Balangiga massacre on Samar are the exception, as noted by the fact that they were court martialled for their actions. Smith was forcibly retired, while Waller was acquitted in no small part because it was agreed an Army court had no jurisdiction over a Marine.

    Very generally, the Philippine Insurrection was actually characterized more by the difference between those generals like Elwell Otis on the one hand, who believed the country was mostly pacified because there was no violence, and started pouring reconstruction money into the pockets of the insurgents that controlled the town, and on the other Arthur MacArthur, who recognized more of a need to control the population and isolate the insurgents. He did this by means that are less than acceptable to use today, like population movements and burning crops, but they hardly amount to an official policy of atrocity or war crime. More importantly, they were meant to achieve effects (isolating and identifying the insurgents) that are still important today, and which can be done in more palatable ways to get a similar outcome.

    I would recommend reading:

    Schoolbooks and Krags (John Gates)
    The US Army and Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War (Brian Linn)
    The Philippine War (Linn)
    A War of Frontier and Empire (David Silbey)

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