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Thread: Setting up effective, local security forces

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Reaching back to learn?

    Moderator's Note

    A new thread, which is fully explained in Post No.4.(ends)

    SWJ Blog on July 1st '09 had an odd title 'Call in the Cavalry' linking contemporary issues of recruiting and managing locally recruited irregulars to a book written in 1845, in the Imperial Indian period, for an irregular cavalry: http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/200...n-the-cavalry/. The linked article:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...he_calvary?new and had three sub-titles or themes - incentivize, live and let live and go native.

    From my armchair it seemed odd for a journalist to reach that far back for lessons learnt, especially trying to apply in Afghanistan. Secondly there are far better books (see http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7442) and of course the books, articles etc cited in many threads.

    Looking through many of the FID threads the focus was on Iraq, so now the US is sending more troops etc to Afghanistan, it seemed appropriate to see if SWC needed to examine and debate the issues.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-21-2012 at 07:36 PM. Reason: Adding links and mod's note after merging

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    From my armchair it seemed odd for a journalist to reach that far back for lessons learnt, especially trying to apply in Afghanistan. Secondly there are far better books (see http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7442) and of course the books, articles etc cited in many threads.
    From this armchair as well. My fear is that there's a whole lot of folk plundering their way through military history, with some trend spotting in mind.

    Might be good if folk actually read Calwell and Gwynn, instead of just quoting them.
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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    From this armchair as well. My fear is that there's a whole lot of folk plundering their way through military history, with some trend spotting in mind.

    Might be good if folk actually read Calwell and Gwynn, instead of just quoting them.
    I would contend that there are trends, but that they lie in how organizations react to certain types of perceived threats. For example, the US Army's continual shedding of its counterinsurgency experience is one of those historical trends, and one that should be learned from. History is also a better source for understanding what DIDN'T work in a particular situation than it is for predicting future events.

    The danger I usually see is one of polar constructs. We either ignore history entirely (or cherry-pick the appealing bits) or turn to it expecting a crystal ball into the future. Neither approach is especially helpful.
    "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 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.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-21-2012 at 07:36 PM. Reason: Add Mods note and then move it to the new first post
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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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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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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.
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Setting up effective, local security forces

    On another thread I posted a week ago 'An option overlooked' after Fuchs rightly posted his succinct observation, with my emphasis:
    The Americans never really mastered this indirect rule and the setup of effective indigenous sepoy-like forces either.
    This is an issue which has always interested me and IMO deserves its own thread. As always this opening post will drop down when other, earlier posts are copied here.

    I am very aware that for the USA there has been a long history of involvement in setting up such local forces; post-1945 it became an SOF responsibility and in various modes is undertaken today.

    The big difference in this thread is 'sepoy-like', so I mean locally recruited with expatriate officers and NCOs. Not advisory teams, embedded and more recent descriptive terms.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The Montagnards were fighting for their 'tribe', not for the Americans. I believe this doesn't count in this context.

    The Filipinos come more close, but at least the WW2-period Filipino troops were motivated by a promise of independence and thus again fighting for their people, not really for the Americans AFAIK.
    __________________________________________________ _________

    What's remarkable in the case of U.S. troops is that they don't form U.S.Army units with 80-90% foreigners from the region. It's really not that hard, as evidenced by the ease of how European powers did this during Imperialism times. See the German Askaris; German officers surely had no experience in creating such a force, yet built a formidable one in East Africa with IIRC initially Sudanese warriors.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Askari#German_colonies

    Just imagine; rotation would be limited to about 20% of the total force, deployed U.S. personnel could be cut by two thirds and the actual force available in-theatre would still be larger and have enough boots on the ground to dominate most of the places that are now effectively without Western control.
    Well-performing and reliable soldiers could be identified and promoted, with gradual replacement of U.S. troops over the span of maybe six years.


    I suspect the U.S. has a misleading perception of the quality of its own troops. Most of their qualities are of little consequence in small wars and other characteristics are outright problematic. This also applies to Western mercenaries.
    A critical little bit more optimism about the utility of foreign culture troops (done right, not the ridiculous ANA approach) could serve very well.



    hmm, why do I pay attention to it? It's small wars stuff.
    The only consequence for great war stuff here is the use of foreign culture troops as manpower akin to the French practice of employing black troops in Europe. The success of this was mixed at best.
    We don't need foreign manpower for Europe's security (contrary to hysterical demography doom-sayers) and the Roman experience with culturally foreign auxiliaries in the long term is not a promising example.

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The Montagnards were fighting for their 'tribe', not for the Americans. I believe this doesn't count in this context.

    The Filipinos come more close, but at least the WW2-period Filipino troops were motivated by a promise of independence and thus again fighting for their people, not really for the Americans AFAIK.
    It’s hardly news that individuals working within a colonial structure are often primarily motivated by local concerns. I would assume that is the norm, actually.

    There are a couple of anthropologists—Gerald Hickey and Oscar Salemink—whose work directly addresses the ties between Montagnard ethnic identity, the colonial endeavor, and Vietnamese nationalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I suspect the U.S. has a misleading perception of the quality of its own troops.
    There is a tendency amongst Americans to talk themselves up, but I assure you that it is neither a universal amongst us nor exclusive to us.
    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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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No and Yes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The Montagnards were fighting for their 'tribe', not for the Americans. I believe this doesn't count in this context.
    That's incorrect, most of the Montagnards were in the go along and get along mode until recruited by and paid by the US. You can and will of course believe what you wish.
    What's remarkable in the case of U.S. troops is that they don't form U.S.Army units with 80-90% foreigners from the region...
    Difference in national traditions and self-perceptions. *
    I suspect the U.S. has a misleading perception of the quality of its own troops. Most of their qualities are of little consequence in small wars and other characteristics are outright problematic. This also applies to Western mercenaries.
    A critical little bit more optimism about the utility of foreign culture troops (done right, not the ridiculous ANA approach) could serve very well.
    In reverse order for the last assertion, see * above.

    On the first three statements, totally true but Ganulv answers it far better than I :

    "There is a tendency amongst Americans to talk themselves up, but I assure you that it is neither a universal amongst us nor exclusive to us."

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    That's incorrect, most of the Montagnards were in the go along and get along mode until recruited by and paid by the US.
    I don't consider this in conflict with what I wrote.
    Propaganda and other means shape perceptions, and Montagnards knew that defeat would cause repercussions for their people once they had joined the 'anti-communist' cause.

    Most conscripts of European armies were in a "go along and get along mode" shortly before being sent to war. So what?

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Perceptions and reality

    Difference in national traditions and self-perceptions. *
    An interesting observation. I think there is a contradiction in the way American's view themselves in relation to non-western foreign militaries. We do not want to see ourselves as imperialists conquering and subjugating the locals. Therefore we do not like the idea of mixed, Sepoy style forces.

    Yet we are a hierarchical culture. We believe that people make their own success and if you are in the gutter you are there based on your own failures. Therefore we still view people in parts of the world as somehow "lesser". You see it in the way we mock their systems as inferior to ours.

    It sets up a condition where we do not want to build combined unite with them because that would be colonialist yet we refuse to accept that they can do the job as well as us so we continue to treat them as if they are our subjects.

    It is our problem and I don't think we are likely to fix it any time soon.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    There might also a lack of long-term strategy play into this.

    I have two pet theories about how to handle small wars as the one in AFG:

    (1) As described, build foreigners into the force till it turned foreign completely, shedding the too technicized TO&E components in the process.

    (2) Send your troops, but set a withdrawal table from day one and tell the locals about it. Also tell them that for every WIA you take two replacements will arrive and for every KIA you take ten replacements will arrive - so violence against your personnel will have a perverted effect and be discouraged strongly. This approach is supposed to buy a calm period, for whatever purpose that's required.


    Both could be combined, but (2) would lose effectiveness in such a combination.


    Meanwhile, the standard Western approach under U.S. leadership is to send relatively few occupation troops, rotate them and reinforce them if politicians get too much under pressure by poor news about the occupation.
    In parallel, indigenous puppet regime forces are being built from scratch, perform rather poorly and are unreliable for many reasons.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Exclamation Well of course you don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I don't consider this in conflict with what I wrote.
    You rarely do see such conflicts. On the rare occasions you do, you attempt to drive your bulldozer over them...
    Propaganda and other means shape perceptions, and Montagnards knew that defeat would cause repercussions for their people once they had joined the 'anti-communist' cause.

    Most conscripts of European armies were in a "go along and get along mode" shortly before being sent to war. So what?
    And the bearing of all this on your statement that the Montagnards were fighting for their tribes is precisely what? It would in fact seem to me that your statement they "...knew that defeat would cause repercussions for their people ..." which is true indicates a situation that would in fact deter them from fighting 'for the tribe' lacking some other incentive. As an Economist, you know money talks...

    Note also that the Montagnards were neither European or conscripted -- the tribal leaders did not force their young men to fight for the Americans, they simply allowed them to do so. The men had a choice and they exercised it so that comparison is sorta specious, that's what.

    Not that contradictory statements have ever deterred you, Lieber Fuchs...

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Well I can buy into those...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I have two pet theories about how to handle small wars as the one in AFG:...
    But what are we going to do about the politicians???
    Meanwhile, the standard Western approach under U.S. leadership is to send relatively few occupation troops, rotate them and reinforce them if politicians get too much under pressure by poor news about the occupation.
    In the US case, that's a forced error due to our personnel system and Congressional pressure -- unfortunately, US domestic political concerns outweigh both military and foreign policy issues. That does not mean the rest of a coalition has to do the same thing; that they opt to do so is a lick on them -- or also a function of their domestic political pressures...
    In parallel, indigenous puppet regime forces are being built from scratch, perform rather poorly and are unreliable for many reasons.
    True. Never a good idea but it seems hard to break the mold.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    which is true indicates a situation that would in fact deter them from fighting 'for the tribe' lacking some other incentive.
    People can be amazingly short-sighted.

    Besides, the North Vietnamese were more nationalists than communists, and nationalists are no good news for minorities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    There might also a lack of long-term strategy play into this.

    I have two pet theories about how to handle small wars as the one in AFG:

    (1) As described, build foreigners into the force till it turned foreign completely, shedding the too technicized TO&E components in the process.

    (2) Send your troops, but set a withdrawal table from day one and tell the locals about it. Also tell them that for every WIA you take two replacements will arrive and for every KIA you take ten replacements will arrive - so violence against your personnel will have a perverted effect and be discouraged strongly. This approach is supposed to buy a calm period, for whatever purpose that's required.


    Both could be combined, but (2) would lose effectiveness in such a combination.


    Meanwhile, the standard Western approach under U.S. leadership is to send relatively few occupation troops, rotate them and reinforce them if politicians get too much under pressure by poor news about the occupation.
    In parallel, indigenous puppet regime forces are being built from scratch, perform rather poorly and are unreliable for many reasons.
    The German example in East Africa (starting 1881) is a good one as was the British example across their colonies.

    The critical success factor is based on all the officers and as many as possible of the NCOs being imported. Over time - many years - an NCO corps among the indigenous will being to form and the respective units will begin to form their own cultures.

    The Rhodesian African Rifles example bears study as the officers were local and permanent as opposed to merely being on temporary secondment.

    The principal US problem is the short attention span.

    US training example in the DRC

    Not sure the US model in the DRC is the correct method.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default This is true:

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    People can be amazingly short-sighted.
    This is even more so:
    Besides, the North Vietnamese were more nationalists than communists, and nationalists are no good news for minorities.
    Boy, is it ever...

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default True. It's also a feature, not a bug.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The principal US problem is the short attention span.
    Induced by size and traditions but most attributable to our political system and thus is unlikely to change. Many of the "cockups" you more or less correctly note are directly attributable to that feature. It should be considered by all 'strategists' and planners, particularly those in the US but it too seldom is. To ask that fact and feature be considered by observers is probably a step too far...

    The foreign policy implications of Chine, Russia, Syria and Libya (as well as US aid in the search for Kony and the LRA...) that you surface are all examples of the fact that US domestic politics take primacy for a number of reasons, some bad, some good. Short termism r us...
    Not sure the US model in the DRC is the correct method.
    It is not however it is short term (that "attention span...") adequate. The British and most of the Commonwealth as well as the Germans always strove for 'good'[ or excellence For the US, adequate has always been sufficient. So far...

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Tut-tut

    I'd overlooked checking the forum 'FID & Working With Indigenous Forces Training, advising, and operating with local armed forces in Foreign Internal Defense':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...splay.php?f=37

    So I have found a post from 2009 in which I concluded that many of the FID threads were focused on Iraq and on quick review there are no threads similar to this theme.

    There was one thread 'Reaching back to learn?' with three posts in 2009, which I have now merged to this one.
    davidbfpo

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