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Thread: Modernization/Development Theory, CORDS, and FM 3-24?

  1. #41
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default A bit dated but ...

    ... this does a good job of presenting the problem. I do not agree with the solution. I am interested in the idea of the SysAdmin Force.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/tho...for_peace.html
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  2. #42
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Madhu,

    In response to the quote from the Gentile article:

    "All three groups—airpower theorists, adherents of the French Revolutionary War School, and the proponents of the new U.S. COIN doctrine—inverted the way military forces had traditionally fought wars. The first actions in wars fought between nation-states normally involved large battles between the military forces ofthe opposing sides. Depending on the nature of the war, at some point as the war progressed the civilian population might to some degree become involved in the fighting. But the airpower and counterinsurgency theorists reversed this process so that the first step in war would be to involve the people. For the airpower theorists, involvement would mean bombing them from the sky. For the counterinsurgency theorists,involvement would be securing the population with military force in order to get at the insurgents. After this involvement between the people and the military, in either of the two cases, military forces might be engaged along the lines of more traditional warfare."

    I disagree with this assessment. What Douhet (Air Power) was arguing was that a nation's will could be broken directly through bombing. It was revolutionary for two reasons. First, it recognized the power of the airplane to circumvent conventional ground defenses. But second, and more importantly, it recognized that modern nations draw their power directly from the people - popular sovereignty. Break the people's will and the country collapses. COIN is based on a similar concept often oversimplified into the statement that the population is the center of gravity in a fight. It is not a matter of sequencing. If the will of the people is broken there will be no subsequent military engagement.

    The problem with COIN as applied in certain parts of the world, in my opinion, is that you are applying rules that might work in a nation that is based on popular sovereignty to a country where legitimacy is based on more traditional systems like tribal or religious affiliations. It proceeds ab initio from a false assumption.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 07-11-2012 at 09:43 PM.

  3. #43
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Two minor comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I disagree with this assessment. What Douhet (Air Power) was arguing was that a nation's will could be broken directly through bombing. It was revolutionary for two reasons. First, it recognized the power of the airplane to circumvent conventional ground defenses. But second, and more importantly, it recognized that modern nations draw their power directly from the people - popular sovereignty. Break the people's will and the country collapses. COIN is based on a similar concept often oversimplified into the statement that the population is the center of gravity in a fight. It is not a matter of sequencing. If the will of the people is broken there will be no subsequent military engagement.
    Both assertions are questionable. the record of air power and / or COIN efforts at 'breaking wills' is less than poor -- it is one of constant failures. That is not to say that neither effort can be successful in some uses and forms, just that breaking of the will of populations has not been shown.

  4. #44
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    Again I return to the question from a Soldier's perspective. What are the politicians, in response to public outcry, going to expect us to do in failed or failing states or in response to genocide or other war crimes? If we do intervene, do we just stop the carnage and withdraw? If not, what are the realistic options?
    I doubt that there will be any consistent set of available options; what's available (and more important desirable) will inevitably have to be decided on a case to case basis. Inevitably in the case of democracies, home front politics will always play a role in determining what's done, for better or worse... usually for worse I expect but it's still inevitable. IMO the first prerequisite for intervention should be a specific, concrete, achievable goal ("nation building" is none of the above) but I'm probably not being realistic there.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    In another article someone proposed the idea that Green Beret, in addition to FID, be capable of teaching basic economics to villagers, so I don't think I am being facetious when I toss these ideas out for comment.
    I saw that series of articles, and I find their conclusions very tenuous. I'm not convinced that villagers need to be taught basic economics, or that lack of knowledge (of economics or anything else) among the villagers is a major constraint on development. The idea that we can resolve other people's problems by enlightening the benighted is a peculiarly American conceit that has rarely led us anywhere beneficial. We're often better off trying to learn from the villagers, rather than teach them, as they generally know their problems better than we do.
    “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”

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  5. #45
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default True ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Both assertions are questionable. the record of air power and / or COIN efforts at 'breaking wills' is less than poor -- it is one of constant failures. That is not to say that neither effort can be successful in some uses and forms, just that breaking of the will of populations has not been shown.
    I wasn't really arguing for the tactic as a suitable strategy. As I recall, Douhet was advocating dropping a combination of high explosives and poison gas in city centers in order to get the people to give in. It was a direct attack on the will of the population -- don't attack the armies on the ground, go straight at the population; that is the true source of power. From that perspective it was a different strategy. One that recognized a the shift in the political systems of the Western nations since the Glorious Revolution in England and the American and French Revolutions. COIN is based on a similar premise; that the people are the government's (or the insurgency's) base of power and therefore the true prize to be won. But neither, I believe, are based on the idea that you attack the will of the population first, and then bring in the Army.

    I would agree that bombing's success is dubious and probably will remain so. My reasons have to do with a misinterpretation of psychology; that people will simply give up under such conditions. My belief is that it will have the opposite affect. It will harden their resolve. I also believe that it will have more subtle changes in attitude causing the population to band together against a common enemy -- essentially shifting their belief system away from a liberal system to something more like a traditional (nationalist) one. But it is just a guess.

    I believe COIN suffers from a similar problem of misinterpreting psychology, but I am not as clear exactly where the mistake lies.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 07-12-2012 at 12:59 AM.
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  6. #46
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default We agree.

    I tend to over react to most assertions, even if indirect, that a given tactic or techniques is universally successful...

    None are, though most will work on occasion if well implemented and appropriate to the particular war or task at hand.

  7. #47
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Well ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I tend to over react to most assertions, even if indirect, that a given tactic or techniques is universally successful...

    None are, though most will work on occasion if well implemented and appropriate to the particular war or task at hand.
    Since no strategy -- including COIN, or Modernization, or Nation Building, or whatever you want to call it -- will work in every instance, we need a palette of options. Something that does not seem to be available in current American COIN or Stability Operations doctrine.

    So I guess that is two things we agree on ...
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    Default More for review and discussion....

    I really do want to respond to some of the various points made upthread, but I have to wait until I've got time to write proper responses.

    For now, though:

    In the 1950s, theoreticians gained a more institutional role in society. In the RAND corporation, founded by the Air Force, scholars developed concepts such as game theory and organizational behavior to guide strategic thinking. Others, like Albert Wohlstetter, attempted to distill the lessons of Pearl Harbor into theories of “vulnerability” and “deterrence” in the nuclear age. However, their work carried little weight with President Eisenhower, who had an aversion to abstract theorization. Even the Air Force at that time generally ignored its RAND staffers’ suggestions, unless they justified requests for military budget increases. The decade thus marked a low point in the influence of these thinkers, and they would not bounce back until the election of Kennedy.

    The 1960s saw a drastic increase in the attention paid to intellectuals, as many found jobs in the administration, but the result was not more effective policymaking. Kuklick’s prime example here is the Cuban Missile Crisis, which experts misinterpreted both during and after the event. First, Kennedy’s advisors failed to see the big picture, in that they did not see Soviet encroachments as a response to the possibility of American missiles in West Germany. Second, they glorified their own role in ending the crisis, attributing success to sound advice, rather than the fact that the Soviets had been bluffing. They misread the crisis as a victory for graduated escalation, and they applied the same formula in Vietnam, despite starkly different circumstances.
    and

    The final chapters recount intellectuals’ attempts to modify their theories out of self-interest. Those who had been most responsible for decision making now pointed to structural causes, not themselves, as the reasons for failure in Vietnam. Henry Kissinger, the paragon of realist foreign policy, tried to claim in his memoirs that he had aided the cause of the ideological hardliners. Robert McNamara expressed regret for his role in the war, but he attributed the Vietnam “tragedy” to a lack of “social knowledge,” a problem which no one could have solved (214). Thus, just as they and others had wielded their expertise to justify actions, now intellectuals used it to distance themselves from the outcomes of their own policies.
    http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/reviews/...view.cfm?id=21

    I have not read the book being reviewed.

    I have never been in the military and as I've said many times on this board before, I am a practicing physician. We all have biases and lenses through which we view the world. As the child of an academic and the product of a college town, I have always been interested in the world of our intellectual movers and shakers. Plus, being the child of immigrants and growing up in the American Midwest, I always had various competing narratives in my head. I've watched as those competing narratives have come to a head during the 00s, especially in Afghanistan. I don't know anything about the mideast and so don't offer much opinion on Iraq. Sometimes, shutting up is the better part of valor. Even I know that.

    Human nature - that difficult, beautiful, mysterious thing. And the desire to control and shape the behavior of others! Very human nature-y and very much a part of the nature of our intellectual classes. That's what I've seen, that's what I believe. Don't know how accurate my reflections are, but there you go.

    As for "what should we do", much talk on these boards previously about working with groups naturally allied against the Taliban and keeping a small but steady presence, instead of attempting a grand reordering,, another Great Game.

    Anyway, nothing can be perfect. I can't believe I used to kind of believe that, foreign policy-wise. How shallow. And yet, I believed it.

  9. #49
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default From SWJ Blog

    From "Preparing for the Third Generation of Conflict, Stabilization, and Reconstruction Operations"
    by Dave Dilegge

    "There is a growing recognition of the need to move from a sole emphasis on state building and institution building toward a more pragmatic engagement with de facto authority structures, including nonstate actors and hybrid political institutions on the ground. This is particularly relevant in conflict-affected countries, where significant territory is often controlled by a nonstate actor or a rogue government official."

    http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/blog...#comment-35458

    Guess the academic elite no longer believe it is worth the effort to try to create little clones of the United States in every conflict area around the world. Wonder how long it takes before we forget this lesson ...
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 07-13-2012 at 12:04 AM.
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    Default I saw that article, too

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    From "Preparing for the Third Generation of Conflict, Stabilization, and Reconstruction Operations"
    by Dave Dilegge

    "There is a growing recognition of the need to move from a sole emphasis on state building and institution building toward a more pragmatic engagement with de facto authority structures, including nonstate actors and hybrid political institutions on the ground. This is particularly relevant in conflict-affected countries, where significant territory is often controlled by a nonstate actor or a rogue government official."

    http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/blog...#comment-35458

    Guess the academic elite no longer believe it is worth the effort to try to create little clones of the United States in every conflict area around the world. Wonder how long it takes before we forget this lesson ...
    I thought it paired up conceptually with the following articles/posts (in the sense of trying to categorize conflicts based on a complex set of motivations of the main actors):

    US Army Special Operations Command and Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory National Security Analysis Department have put together a useful reference for small wars students and practitioners entitled "Casebook on Insurgency and Revolutionary Warfare Volume II: 1962-2009." The resource is available for download in PDF format here. If you are wondering where Volume I is, that government document covers post-World War I insurgencies and revolutions up to 1962 and can be downloaded in PDF here. The original was published by the Special Operations Research Office at The American University in 1962.
    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/cas...ionary-warfare

    In order to prepare for the future, we must first understand where we have been moving beyond individual articles of best practices and lessons learned. The intent of this essay is to provide the critique in order to promote an evolution in our thinking. The purpose is to better prepare those who will follow in our footsteps. Finally, we believe that this reform is a duty required from those who directly observed the costs of today's small wars.
    http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...ase-for-reform

    I have no idea with the elite business I am terrible at the prediction business, and, apparently, so are most people--experts included. All that "knowledge problem" stuff.

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    Default Instead of intellectual "air castles", how about reality?

    From the twitter "feed" of Dr. Steven Metz:

    http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i1...strategies.jpg

    http://twitter.com/steven_metz/statu...72129582186496

    "The US needs four different COIN categories" (paraphrase) and the twitter links take you to the proposed categories.

    We have been treating the various Talibans as one Taliban when it may be that only the Talibans with global power projection ambitions/intent are the real issue for our security.

    I dunno. It's complicated.
    Last edited by Madhu; 07-13-2012 at 01:16 PM.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I believe COIN suffers from a similar problem of misinterpreting psychology, but I am not as clear exactly where the mistake lies.
    I can see several mistakes. First, the very construction "COIN" assumes that insurgency is by definition something that needs to be countered. I think that's a mistake from the start.

    More specifically, a great deal of our current COIN practice seems to be built around the assumption that our people going into a conflict environment and building stuff or delivering services is going to "win hearts and minds" for a government we want the people to support. I don't think that's ever going to work very well. First, people clearly see the difference between our actions and those of the host country government (even when we put up a host country facade; people aren't dumb), and our activity can easily just underscore the host government's passivity and incapacity. Second, people don't take up arms against a government because that government isn't delivering infrastructure or services, especially in places where expectations of government are low. People take up arms against a government because they see that government as a threat to them. Building stuff and delivering services often doesn't address the causes of that perception, and if it's seen as a lever for insinuating government into local life can easily exacerbate that perception.

    Quote Originally Posted by Madhu View Post
    From the twitter "feed" of Dr. Steven Metz:

    "The US needs four different COIN categories" (paraphrase) and the twitter links take you to the proposed categories.
    Like anything from a Twitter feed that's a bit superficial, would be interesting to see how Dr Metz builds that case in a venue allowing more detail.

    My first criticism would be, again, that these should be called "insurgency categories", not "COIN categories", because the moment we impose the term "COIN" we impose the assumption that there's something here that needs to be countered and countered by us. That I think is a bad place to start.

    Second, I'm not completely compelled by the distinction between nations that do or do not share US priorities and objectives. Very few nations fall in one category or the other, most are somewhere in between, and categorizations may reflect the preferences of those doing the categorizing. Furthermore, the principal priority and objective of a government threatened by insurgency is usually survival. In the face of that threat they will typically claim to share the priorities and objectives of any nation from which they seek assistance, a claim that needs rigorous and cynical assessment.

    Third, I think the model omits some critical distinctions, as a 4-part model must. Relative strength of insurgent and government and assessed survivability of host government are key. Even if a government shares (or claims to share) our priorities and objectives, if that government has minimal capacity and is clearly sinking, that has to affect our assessments. No point in trying to bail out a sinking ship. The extent of US interest in a given location also has to be part of any assessment on which US policy or action are to be based. Could go on, but that's enough...
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 07-13-2012 at 11:14 PM.
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  13. #53
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I can see several mistakes. First, the very construction "COIN" assumes that insurgency is by definition something that needs to be countered. I think that's a mistake from the start.
    I don't have a problem with that. You are either supporting the insurgency against a government or you are supporting a government against the insurgency (COIN). I think it is far to approach the problem differently depending on which side you are on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    More specifically, a great deal of our current COIN practice seems to be built around the assumption that our people going into a conflict environment and building stuff or delivering services is going to "win hearts and minds" for a government we want the people to support.
    I didn't see anything in Metz's system that said that winning hearts and minds was part of the plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Like anything from a Twitter feed that's a bit superficial, would be interesting to see how Dr Metz builds that case in a venue allowing more detail.
    I do like the idea that you need a palette of options from which to chose, so DR. Metz's concept is a step in the right direction. But I also don't like his system of categorization.

    I did like his distinction between whether it was a strictly internal matter or whether the insurgents had external backing. External backing provides the insurgency assets and support to keep the fight going. I have seen at least one paper that claims that every successful insurgency had external support, but that is probably a bit of a wild overstatement.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Second, I'm not completely compelled by the distinction between nations that do or do not share US priorities and objectives. Very few nations fall in one category or the other, most are somewhere in between, and categorizations may reflect the preferences of those doing the categorizing.
    I also take issues with it. The assumption being that we are either supporting the government or the insurgency -- back to my first comment. I don't believe that we would find ourselves in a position to be supporting a government that we were not somehow aligned with. Or maybe that was the point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Third, I think the model omits some critical distinctions, as a 4-part model must. Relative strength of insurgent and government and assessed survivability of host government are key. Even if a government shares (or claims to share) our priorities and objectives, if that government has minimal capacity and is clearly sinking, that has to affect our assessments. No point in trying to bail out a sinking ship. The extent of US interest in a given location also has to be part of any assessment on which US policy or action are to be based. Could go on, but that's enough...
    I will have to go back but there was an article that discussed the critical aspects of successful counterinsurgency operations. That is probably a good place to start.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 07-13-2012 at 11:39 PM.
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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I don't have a problem with that. You are either supporting the insurgency against a government or you are supporting a government against the insurgency (COIN). I think it is far to approach the problem differently depending on which side you are on.
    You can also decide not to get involved. The first and most important step in evaluating any insurgency situation is deciding if and to what extent involvement is appropriate. Starting out with the "COIN" term in mind creates, I think, a predisposition to assume that insurgency needs to be countered. That predisposition seems to me something that we'd do well to remove, and a start might be more emphasis on understanding insurgency and less on methods of counterinsurgency.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I didn't see anything in Metz's system that said that winning hearts and minds was part of the plan.
    No, the first half of the post above did not refer to Dr Metz's system, that came about in the second half. I should probably stop replying to several posts in a single post. I do think that the assumption that "hearts and minds" can be "won" by building things and delivering services, rather than by fundamental changes in the nature of host governance, is fairly well entrenched in American COIN practice. I suspect that we often resort to projects and services when we haven't the capacity to reform host country governance, but I have serious doubts about the long-term effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I do like the idea that you need a palette of options from which to chose, so DR. Metz's concept is a step in the right direction. But I also don't like his system of categorization.
    I like that idea too, as long as "just stay out of it" is included as an option.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 07-14-2012 at 01:57 AM.
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    Posted by Dayuhan,

    You can also decide not to get involved. The first and most important step in evaluating any insurgency situation is deciding if and to what extent involvement is appropriate. Starting out with the "COIN" term in mind creates, I think, a predisposition to assume that insurgency needs to be countered. That predisposition seems to me something that we'd do well to remove, and a start might be more emphasis on understanding insurgency and less on methods of counterinsurgency.
    Agree, and there are other options also.

    Irregular warfare is not the "new" way, but rather a continuation of the most common form of conflict (throughout most of history). The vast majority of times we wisely (and sometimes not so wisely) choose not to get involved at all. If we decide to get involved there are multiple forms of involvement that do not involve the U.S. military directly conducting COIN. These include, but are not limited to:

    1. Engage with diplomacy in hopes of reaching a diplomatic settlement

    2. Provide financial assistance to the government

    3. Provide military equipment with no trainers or advisors

    4. Proivide intelligence support

    5. Put pressure on external actors providing support to the insurgents

    6. Conduct the full spectrum of FID (to include U.S. combat operations).

    7. The most extreme (and the rarest) option is for the U.S. to take ownership of the problem.

    If we decide to support the insurgents, there are multiple options with varying levels of support ranging from the Libya example to Nicaragua to simply providing internationl legitimacy to the insurgents.

    I'm beginning to think that many of those who didn't practice or study FID/UW/COIN prior to 9/11 are viewing the world through a much too narrow spectrum of history. Of course I can't know, but I think that both OIF and OEF-A over time will be viewed as abberations in history instead of the norm. The conflict with non-state actors will continue for at least a couple more decades, but largely facilitated by special operations (small foot print operations conducted by people actually selected, trained, and organized to conduct these operations) in concert with interagency partners and of course foreign partners. GPF will provide critical support, and at times be required to conduct larger scale combat operations than SOF can conduct.

    Frequently not a popular opinion on SWJ, but the era of state wars and larger non-state actor formations will require that GPF maintain their higher end major combat skills. I think it is dangerous if we continue to distract GPF from this focus after the military invested so much in SOF to get after the IW problem set. GPF will also be required for large scale stability operations like OIF, OEF-A, Bosnia, Kosovo, etc. We're all guilty of wanting to chase the shinny thing (with $$$ attached), but in general our tax payers invested over the years invested in a wide range of military capabilities to defend the U.S.. It makes little sense to evolve an organization over decades to conduct irregular warfare, and then give the mission to organizations that were largely focused on winning the fight against conventional forces. There is much SOF can't do, we can't win a fight against a conventional force (we can provide valuable support). The Army, Air Force, and Marines devastated the Iraqi military, SOF couldn't do that. The Navy secures the Persian Gulf, SOF can't do that, etc.

    This is relevant to the topic, because we tend to go over board on what we think we can accomplish when we put a large GPF unit on the ground. Once the combat is over, we try to employ them in a social engineering role (or with our new doctrine, before the combat is over) and then we're surprised that this effort doesn't work.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default An option overlooked

    Fuchs rightly posted on a separate thread, with my emphasis:
    The Americans never really mastered this indirect rule and the setup of effective indigenous sepoy-like forces either.
    Yes such forces would appear to be mercenaries and history shows that money was one factor in a sometimes complex equation. If the British in the imperial period could raise irregular units in the NW Frontier Province and FATA, with very few examples of mutiny or disloyalty, can this not be replicated? More recently and in a non-imperial context there were local units in Borneo, Oman, Namibia etc.

    Are there not American examples post-1945? i am sure there are pre-1939.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Fuchs rightly posted on a separate thread, with my emphasis:

    Yes such forces would appear to be mercenaries and history shows that money was one factor in a sometimes complex equation. If the British in the imperial period could raise irregular units in the NW Frontier Province and FATA, with very few examples of mutiny or disloyalty, can this not be replicated? More recently and in a non-imperial context there were local units in Borneo, Oman, Namibia etc.

    Are there not American examples post-1945? i am sure there are pre-1939.
    The U.S./Montagnard relationship, perhaps. I don’t know that the comparison isn’t apples and oranges, though. The imperial/provincial dynamic is distinct from the dynamic between a hegemon and an admittedly less powerful but nevertheless sovereign state. Mark Danner’s book The massacre at El Mozote (one of my favorite books of any stripe) is a good case study in the latter.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Fuchs rightly posted on a separate thread, with my emphasis:

    The Americans never really mastered this indirect rule and the setup of effective indigenous sepoy-like forces either.
    Yes such forces would appear to be mercenaries and history shows that money was one factor in a sometimes complex equation. If the British in the imperial period could raise irregular units in the NW Frontier Province and FATA, with very few examples of mutiny or disloyalty, can this not be replicated? More recently and in a non-imperial context there were local units in Borneo, Oman, Namibia etc.

    Are there not American examples post-1945? i am sure there are pre-1939.
    Actually the US did exactly that, reasonably effectively, in the Philippines during their colonial enterprise there. Given that the American "sepoys" in the Philippines never staged an equivalent of the sepoy rebellion (though of course they weren't around as long) you could argue that the US did it more effectively. Of course the US didn't pursue that strategy on as wide a scale, because they didn't have as many colonies. It's not a strategy that translates accurately to the post-colonial proxy wars, in which the role was largely taken over by the national armed forces of our proxies.
    “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”

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  19. #59
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    GPF will also be required for large scale stability operations like OIF, OEF-A, Bosnia, Kosovo, etc. We're all guilty of wanting to chase the shinny thing (with $$$ attached), but in general our tax payers invested over the years invested in a wide range of military capabilities to defend the U.S.. It makes little sense to evolve an organization over decades to conduct irregular warfare, and then give the mission to organizations that were largely focused on winning the fight against conventional forces.
    Yes, our taxpayers invested in a range of capabilities with the intention of defending the US. Unfortunately those capabilities aren't always used to defend the US, or at times the definition of "defending the US" has been stretched to quite absurd lengths to justify use of those capabilities.

    I agree that GPF are necessary and that they should not be retrained as development workers or pseudo-SF: that would degrade their primary capacities and those capacities might be needed someday.

    If we discover that we're involved in efforts that we think require huge numbers of armed development workers or large-scale efforts at armed nation-building, we may not need to question our force structure. Might be better to question how we got into that position in the first place, how we can get out of it, and how we can avoid getting into it in the future.

    Post regime change COIN is, as you suggest, largely an aberration, and IMO it's not something we need to do better, it's something we need to stop doing. Why we so often insist on lumping it into the same category as traditional COIN (in support of a pre-existing government) is something I've never understood.
    “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

  20. #60
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Post regime change COIN is, as you suggest, largely an aberration, and IMO it's not something we need to do better, it's something we need to stop doing.
    Here I am going to disagree with you. I don't see this shift as "largely an aberration". Unfortunately, I see it as a the lion's share of what we can be expected to do in the future. Far larger than great power war.

    The world has changed since the end of WWII and again as the cold war fades into history. The ideals and expectations of the population of the Western powers is changing. I would trace this slow change all the way back to the enlightenment. It is a change toward placing the individual above the community. You can see it in the call for Universal Human Rights and a push in international law towards R2P. It is a social change that has already altered the way we fight. The expectation now is that we only kill the bad guys. Any civilian death is a tragedy (or a crime). This was not a general concern during WWII or Korea and started to become one in Vietnam.

    Perhaps I am misreading history but I don't see fights to effect regime change followed by an attempt to alter the character of the next government as an aberration. It is more palatable to a liberal mindset to justify war as a quasi-religious fight to spread "democracy" (by which they really mean individual liberties or more correctly individual rights like women's rights). It is, for better or worse, the future.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 07-15-2012 at 12:22 PM.
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