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Thread: The Best Trained, Most Professional Military...Just Lost Two Wars?

  1. #61
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Smoke. Fire...

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    ...information is posted that Gen. Ham wanted to go and was going to send forces despite the word from above and was relieved just seconds after telling people to act.
    May or may not be true, we'll see. Too early to tell

    Regardless and as I wrote things aren't nearly as bad as you seem to think -- nor are they going to be as easy to fix as we both wish...
    ...That kind of demonstration is important beyond immediate effects I think. It is good example and shows the people low down on the totem pole that maybe all isn't lost.
    True but it is far too often incredibly difficult to do that -- unless the circumstances lend themselves to it...

  2. #62
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    True but it is far too often incredibly difficult to do that -- unless the circumstances lend themselves to it...
    That is why it is so admirable when it is done.

    I didn't know there was a BLT sailing about. Where off the coast was it?
    "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
    (...)
    information is posted that Gen. Ham wanted to go and was going to send forces despite the word from above and was relieved just seconds after telling people to act.

    You have no idea how much I hope that is true.(...)
    You do seem to vastly under-appreciate the benefits of civilian control over the military.
    It's human and thus not perfect, but orders of magnitude better than a military not under strict civilian control.

  4. #64
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    """"They'd have less money. The American solution of throwing money at a problem instead of fixing it has not worked with Education, Medical care -- or the Armed Forces.

    For the active forces, there would be fewer people, they'd be a bit older (and thus, hopefully, a bit more mature) and would spend a bout one and half to twice as much time in institutional training staffed by selected Trainers with demonstrated expertise in subject matter and instructing. They would stay in the same units for years and their equipment fit would be a little different -- much of it to allow sea and land basing but rapid reaction to crisis area movement (we pay lip service to that but do not really want to do it -- too much uncertainty and careers might be damaged...). All would have spent some time in Reserve Units before being ALLOWED to enter the active force.

    The Reserve Forces OTOH would very much resemble those of today but would be about 50% larger -- they would provide the mass and base for expansion if needed for a major war.

    Movement between the two forces, active and reserve would be simplified. Personnel policies that over emphasize 'fairness' and 'objectivity' in selection criteria; 'everyone a generalist * ,' and the very mistaken idea that all persons of like education and experience are equally capable and can perform any job for that rank -- a structure, process and system that needs a MAJOR overhaul so we stop promoting based on 'potential' and being forced to reward decent performance with a promotion until the Peter Principle takes hold -- would disappear...""""

    Then the Bwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-hah from the Capitol and Five Sided Funny Farm in DC woke me up and I fell on my Lance. Sancho laughed and laughed..

    * That 'generalist' stuff and excessive rotation of personnel exist not to better train the force but to make assignments and finding square pegs to put in round holes easy for the Personnel bureaucracy. The unnecessary costs of that approach adversely impact the expansion of needed training; that lack of comprehensive training leads to mistrust of subordinates and reluctance to undertake any complex operations. The training process needs to ditch the Tasks, Conditions and Standards approach that limit abilities to aggregate and combine tasks to accomplish a mission; we need Outcome Based Training and Eduction.
    Our vision is near identical. I disagree with Reserves first, but I think recruiting college kids for enlisted jobs and flatning the pay scale between O's and E's would help reach the same end goal (a more mature force) as would eleminating up-or-out policies and needless PCS moves.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

  5. #65
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    You do seem to vastly under-appreciate the benefits of civilian control over the military.
    It's human and thus not perfect, but orders of magnitude better than a military not under strict civilian control.
    No not at all. That is not what would have (or will) buoyed me up. The hopeful thing is that somebody may have proved himself willing to do the right thing in spite of the personal cost. It was the actions of the man, not the legality of the relief. I would be happier if they had to relieve all the multi-stars in the room to get the job done and then find one in the building down the road (Guess what Chief of European Dental Command, you have a new job.), but like I said, I'll take what I can get.

    It is the evidence of some strong moral character existing among the multi-stars that would be the good thing.

    But then maybe none of this is true. If it is true, what a black mark upon the Americans, a general relieved in this circumstance.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  6. #66
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default An armchair view from over the Atlantic

    There are many interesting posts on this thread, some of them refer to domestic American political factors and others are familiar themes or critical points.

    I am curious at the timing, as the US presidential election looms near and from this vantage point national security issues do not appear uppermost. Whatever happened in Benghazi remains obscure and the cited source is rather partisan to make a judgement on.

    What does strike me is whether the USA is about to enter a period of introspection after the war in Iraq, a failing war in Afghanistan and occasional "fire-fighting" elsewhere versus domestic factors and priorities. Apportioning blame will happen, so who better to blame than the military institution which cannot readily defend itself?

    I can discern a pattern of thought, from US military veterans - similar to "Yes we are the best trained, most professional army; you, the politicians gave us the orders after being full briefed and now you say we failed?"

    Sadly neither is right or wrong IMHO. Were all those involved "speaking truth to power"? IIRC a post-Vietnam comment by whoever.
    davidbfpo

  7. #67
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Benghazi: Strictly from a faraway armchair

    The account given on Captain's Journal and the comments made about US forces being in a position to take action in Benghazi appear to lack credibility.

    I don't dispute that small SOF / USMC detachments were in Sicily, or that the 6th Fleet's BLT was available - although IIRC it was not at sea at the time. Given the distance from Sicily to Benghazi I do wonder if recce drones could have been overhead quickly, assuming availability. Secondly once mobilised whether any detachment could have flown there in time.

    If the AFRICOM commander decided that military force was a valid option - without sufficient intelligence and risk assessment from those on the ground in Benghazi he was a brave man, braver than many I expect.

    It is interesting to contrast the decisions made by the then Brigadier David Richards, who was the UK commander in Sierra Leone and decided to go way beyond his orders. His career did not apparently suffer, indeed he rose to be the Army Commander and is now CDS. Perhaps the difference are legion, including not telling London what he had done!
    davidbfpo

  8. #68
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    David:

    There are a lot of unkowns with the Captain's Journal piece. I brought attention to it with that in mind.

    From what I've read in other places, the drones got there after the thing started but were there for the majority of it.

    What constituted "in time" could not have been known beforehand.

    From what has been reported elsewhere there was continuous reporting from the people on the spot almost from the moment the thing began, plus the feed from the drones. We had a lot of people there for a lot of weeks beforehand looking, seeing and reporting. Benghazi is part of Africom's area so I would hope Gen Ham had more than a hazy idea of what was going on from that looking, seeing and reporting. With that in mind, it is not such a leap to make the decision (if made). Tripoli sent a planeload of people to Benghazi the second they heard.

    As far as the timing goes, that was in the hands of the people who made the attack.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Default Overall structure of decision making in Astan

    This is an Afghanistan specific comment - I think:

    How exactly does the day to day decision making work within the larger NATO and ISAF structure? Who is in charge on a day to day, month to month, year to year basis and how does this affect the basic Afghan campaign in terms of operational strategy, resources, training, etc?

    I am not an apologist for the military either, but militaries are only one part of the entire strategic picture. Militaries are a result of their societies and represent the intellectual fashions of the day, including the idea that the Taliban insurgency is a Maoist type insurgency, that poverty when treated by aid and development will "heal" the insurgency, and so on.

    I'm not excusing anyone and this is a military site so it focuses on the military and its ideas....population centric COIN seems to be the hammer that is used for this particular nail. A close study of the history of this region, in my opinion, will show that foreign aid and development and outside involvement in building militaries (first Pakistan from the fifties onward) to Afghanistan today is destabilizing rather than stabilizing, in many ways....
    Last edited by Madhu; 10-30-2012 at 10:39 PM.

  10. #70
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    Default @ Ken White and Carl

    Ken,

    I respectfully disagree on your point about the American Army and Pakistan.

    Historically, the American Army and NATO are huge boosters of the Pakistani Army for a variety of reasons, some good, some bad:

    1. As a bulwark against communism during the Cold War.
    2. As a potentially useful partner in joint military operations (Mid East and within UN operations).
    3. As a potential strategic prize to be kept out of the reach of China and Russia.
    4. As a potentially useful ally against Russia and/or Iran.
    5. As a potentially useful ally against India or as a conduit for policy toward the 'stans and Central Asia.
    6. Large British Pakistani population as a lobby within NATO and the Anglo-American alliance.
    7. Perhaps even a Saudi lobby within the web of American alliances, etc.


    Traditionally, the Pentagon has been a huge booster and hungered for mil-mil ties and believes in American training of foreign military officers in an almost religious manner. This is likely changed currently, and State is probably the biggest booster. CIA and State and other DC agencies receive huge budgets for administering Pakistan aid programs, military and civilian. This is a DC lobby. There is no other phrase for it.

    Retired American military, contractors, and intelligence personnel represent an important lobby for contacts and business with various members of the elite.

    In short, "water carriers" in the worst instances....

    Ken, I'm sorry, but you must know better. Behind the scenes there are factions that insist we must work with parts of the Pakistani Army and Intelligence services while others suggested this wouldn't work. Those that argued the first had egg on their faces after Abbottabad and there is a lot of CYA going on.


    1. I will add some "references" when I have time, but for now, you all can search for Tommy Franks and Musharraf, among other American Generals who are reported to have close working ties from the past.
    2. Colin Powell had a meeting which is detailed at GWU site (oh, the name escapes me, the one that posts declassified material) with a Pakistani Minister in Aug 2011 and there was much talk about reviving MeTT training, etc.
    3. We tried to work with Nawaz Shariff and then Musharraf prior to 9-11 in order to nab bin Laden. ISI agents were found when Clinton lobbed missiles at training camps in Afghanistan. We've known, always known, but tried to have our cake and eat it too. We would have the old working relationships back and use our contacts to go after Al Q internally. And then mission creep....but this is on everyone involved, everyone. Simply everyone.
    Last edited by Madhu; 10-30-2012 at 10:54 PM.

  11. #71
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madhu View Post
    This is a DC lobby. There is no other phrase for it.

    Retired American military, contractors, and intelligence personnel represent an important lobby for contacts and business with various members of the elite.

    In short, "water carriers" in the worst instances....
    I never thought of it like that before. That is very insightful. Damn clever of the Pak Army/ISI, or very lucky.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Posted by Bob's World after too many sips from the pop centric COIN pitcher

    Actually I agree with the jist of your comments, we preach one thing and do another, but note I never referred to night raids as strategy, simply a tactic that is effective against the enemy and reduces US casualties (can be argued). In lieu of a strategy which we don't have it is a viable tactic.

    The fix is pretty damn easy, but it will cause all of our tactical metrics to plummet. Just ask these questions in the design of every campaign, and tailor the operation until one has a COA that maximizes these perceptions:

    1. How will the conduct of this operation shape the perceptions of the populaces both directly and indirectly affected by it to think that their government is going about its business in a manner they deem appropriate?
    2
    . How will the conduct of this operation shape the perceptions of the populaces both directly and indirectly affected by it to think that their government actually has the right to govern them?
    3.
    How will the conduct of this operation shape the perceptions of the populaces both directly and indirectly affected by it to think that their government treats their small segment of the overall populace with equal respect to other similarly situated populaces?
    4. How will the conduct of this operation shape the perceptions of the populaces both directly and indirectly affected by it to think that their government implements the rule of law in a manner perceived as "just" by that populace?
    5. If the populace affected by this action does feel that it is improper in any way, what effective, legal, vehicles do they perceive they have to raise their concerns and have them addressed?
    Of course what you don't address is how will abandoning this tactic enable the opposition? Will it increase their freedom of movement? Will they be able to conduct more operations against coalition forces if they're not disrupted (especially if the population doesn't reject the insurgents)? There are two sides to this coin, and they're both important.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 10-31-2012 at 05:28 AM.

  13. #73
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yes. However...

    Quote Originally Posted by Madhu View Post
    Historically, the American Army and NATO are huge boosters of the Pakistani Army for a variety of reasons, some good, some bad:
    All true -- but that was then, this is now and Pakistan has done much to help us and is also doing some things that are far from helpful and we all know that. As Bob's World is fond of illustrating, the Cold War with the USSR is over and Nations are pursuing, properly, their own interests. There are areas where our interests and those of Pakistan diverge and Pakistan rightly pursues its interests.
    This is a DC lobby. There is no other phrase for it.
    True. However it is equally true for several other nations and areas. Regrettably, our political system today seems to require minor crises and oversea involvement here and there. Part of that is true interest, part to keep the US economy pumped up and part is pure selfishness and / or job security on the part of those who are assigned or fall into such work. Rightly or wrongly Pakistan is no more important to us than are the Philippines or Paraguay. We have interests and relationships a lot of places, Pakistan is more important at the moment than some but not as importan as others. Times change, things shift.
    Ken, I'm sorry, but you must know better.
    For what and why are you sorry? I see nothing for you to be sorry about...
    Behind the scenes there are factions that insist we must work with parts of the Pakistani Army and Intelligence services while others suggested this wouldn't work. Those that argued the first had egg on their faces after Abbottabad and there is a lot of CYA going on.
    All true and I do indeed know all that. None of this changes the fact that Carl wrote: ""Do very high ranking military officers still go along with the fantasy that the Pak Army/ISI is useful?"" *

    To which I responded ""I'm not sure any ever did believe that though they were told by their civilian masters to be nice for several reasons. They do what they're told..."" I responded in that vein because that is how I see the situation today and part of that is based on a fairly close relationship with some former USArCent commanders and staff folks. Both nations pursued their interests and differences were plated over by both -- that is less true today. Carl specifically addressed "high ranking military officers" and not the US polity in general. The attitudes of and within the Armed forces and those of an within the rest of government often vary but the military guys do what they're told. It's that simple.
    We've known, always known, but tried to have our cake and eat it too.
    True that. So too is Pakistan practicing the same game.
    We would have the old working relationships back and use our contacts to go after Al Q internally. And then mission creep....but this is on everyone involved, everyone. Simply everyone.
    IMO that reversion is unlikely, water under bridges and all that.

    * I have no particular bone to pick with Paksitan, they are merely pursuing their own interests and are leery of us -- with good cause -- as we are pursuing our interests and are leery of them -- also with good cause. Carl's the guy who keeps excoriating them here. Mayhap you should educate him.

  14. #74
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Ken:

    I know things will not be easy to fix and I hope that they are not as broke as I fear, though in the aircraft acquisition part I know they are that broke and probably worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    We obviously define 'quite reasonable' differently. I specifically wrote the Armed Forces were risk averse.
    In my own feeble defense, you wrote "are" risk averse. I know because I cut and pasted that part. But that is a quibble.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I'm not sure they want your sympathy and I certainly wasn't seeking it. It is quite easy to stand outside any system or process and kibitz rifghteously. Neither you nor I know what you would do in their situation. What I do know is that I've seen a number stand up for what they thought was right and get creamed for it and that trend has worsened in the last 30 years or so. As one of the better three stars I've known once told me "I'm mediocre -- all Generals are mediocre; if you're too good the system will kill you as threat to its well being." Another said "I can walk down the hall and stick my elbows out but if I stick them out too far, they'll get cut off -- I can't do any one or any thing a bit of good with no elbows..." Should it be that way? No, absolutely not but unlike you, they have to deal with what is, not what's ideal or should be.

    You and I agree that it should not be that way, we disagree on what can be done. I served through two major reform periods when things were dramatically improved but the underlying problems were not addressed and so I watched all those reforms dissipate -- and in each case, the system worsened after the reform period to a lower state than it was before the reforms started. That's why I'm adamant that fixing the symptoms is not wise. It's been done and each time, things not only reverted, they worsened. I contend no major fix is going to happen absent an existential problem. Not necessarily a big or bad war -- real and significant national economic problems could do it.
    These two paragraphs are intensely interesting and say some big things. First though a critical editorial comment about the first paragraph. I know you don't mean it to come across as a plea for understanding the plight of the multi-stars but, to me, that is what it comes across as. Now to the actual content, the important things.

    The quotes from the generals are kind of chilling. It is like they are slaves of a police state that is able to exert an almost absolute rigid mind control. I didn't know it was that bad, scary bad. Kinda like the Borg.

    I also didn't know that when that veritable police state was able to rescind previous reforms, things were worse than they had been before. I can understand your attitude now. I still think that it may be worth trying, mainly because I fear that the existential problem may not be recognized as such and quickly turn into an irrevocable defeat before the Borg can be overthrown and changes made. Yours is pretty powerful testimony though.

    This leads me to a question. From what you say, I gather the Borg is getting more powerful. Do you think it will continue to grow in power such that it will be able to snuff out light of reform burning within last years LTCs before they hit the 4 star rank in 6-10 years? Will it kick reformers out altogether?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Also, be careful what you assume. A lot of folks in the Army and Marines did and do today in fact get off the road -- too many do not but a lot do and much depends on the quality of the unit and its commander.
    Yes. Good comment. Comments like this and Bill's are sort of like the opposite side of the coin of Eric and Michael's. You guys are not blind boosters and so see and say what is wrong.

    I am still shaking my head at the mind control structure multi-stardom has managed to establish. Those guys are geniuses, not military geniuses but geniuses. It's like Ellsworth Toohey is the beau ideal of the 4 star general.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  15. #75
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    * I have no particular bone to pick with Paksitan, they are merely pursuing their own interests and are leery of us -- with good cause -- as we are pursuing our interests and are leery of them -- also with good cause. Carl's the guy who keeps excoriating them here. Mayhap you should educate him.
    Who me? I don't need no edjucation.

    I do have a bone to pick with the Pak Army/ISI. Those Americans they've killed. Don't really care if they were simply and innocently pursuing their interests as they perceived them, our guys are still dead. I have a bigger bone to pick with the suits and multi-stars on our side who won't see the sun in the sky. I figure we shouldn't buy the bullets for guys whose simple pursuit of their interests results in our guys being dead.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    The attitudes of and within the Armed forces and those of an within the rest of government often vary but the military guys do what they're told. It's that simple.
    Military guys do do what they are told. Multi-stars live in a whole 'nother world and sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, sometimes they will and sometimes they won't. It is a different game up there, as you well know.
    Last edited by carl; 10-31-2012 at 05:23 AM.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Multi-stars live in a whole 'nother world and sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, sometimes they will and sometimes they won't. It is a different game up there, as you well know.
    Possibly so, to some extent, but I don't think they get to dictate policy re Pakistan, or on most other issues.
    “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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    Originally Posted by carl
    Multi-stars live in a whole 'nother world and sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, sometimes they will and sometimes they won't. It is a different game up there, as you well know.
    Certainly a lot of multi-stars getting relieved of command for not following guidance from the beltway.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Possibly so, to some extent, but I don't think they get to dictate policy re Pakistan, or on most other issues.
    Dictate? No. They do have more than a small bit of influence though.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Certainly a lot of multi-stars getting relieved of command for not following guidance from the beltway.
    Who? I lose track.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Bill,

    Actually this is not "pop-centric" at all. If it were we'd be doing this and not be in the hole we are in. No, pop-centric is little different than threat-centric, in that both tend to hold the government harmless, both the host nation and our own. Both are also two paths to the same end: Defeat the insurgent.

    Pop-centric thinks one can bribe the populace to success, and that manufacturing better effectiveness of host nation services is the long-tern answer. There is no evidence of that ever working for long, if at all.

    Threat-centric thinks one can simply defeat the various aspects of the threat: his fighters, his sanctuary, his ideology, his funding, etc, and that that is the long-tern answer. Equally, while this has indeed suppressed the fighting in many places over time, and has eradicated more than a few specific insurgent groups, I am not aware if it ever producing an enduring peace, and it typically drives the conditions of insurgency deeper into the fabric of the society.

    No, sometimes I feel a little lonely on these thoughts, so perhaps they are "Bob-centric"; but in simplest terms they recognize that the roots of these conflicts reside in the nature of the relationship between various aspects of some populace and the systems of governance that affect their lives. Actual sins of governance and grievances of populaces vary widely, but the core human emotions that seem to pop up again and again in the many histories of these types of conflict around the globe and over time are the ones I try to focus on here.

    Those chasing threats or populaces either one with a package of tactical programs that do not keep an eye to the the larger strategic criteria I attempt to discover, define and describe, tend to fail. They may put up great numbers, get a great report card and big promotion for their efforts on their tour, but they fail at their mission. Truth.

    As to this:

    Of course what you don't address is how will abandoning this tactic enable the opposition? Will it increase their freedom of movement? Will they be able to conduct more operations against coalition forces if they're not disrupted (especially if the population doesn't reject the insurgents)? There are two sides to this coin, and they're both important.
    I have never advocated abandoning any tactic, what I have said is one must frame their COAs and CONOPS for implementing any tactic or program, be it one to defeat, develop or shape governance, with these simple strategic questions as their framework. One must then also employ these same considerations for their measures of success. If one does this and the government one is supporting still falls to the insurgency?

    Well, sometimes you just can't fix something no matter how bad you want to and it will go sooner than you want it to. You don't know what will replace what goes, and most likely things will be chaotic and messy for quite some time while the people who this directly affects sort it out on their own terms. Sometimes the insurgent is right and needs to win, more often the government is just too wrong and needs to go; better however, if one can convince said government to cure itself and avoid that uncertainty and chaos all together.

    But we have put GIRoA in a sanctuary. We don't honor their sovereignty, but we allow them to act in all manner of self-destructive ways and protect them with our blood and treasure. History will judge us poorly for this. Public opinion already has.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 10-31-2012 at 10:38 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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