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Thread: A Thin Blue Line in the Sand

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    Default A Thin Blue Line in the Sand

    Latest from the SWJ Blog - A Thin Blue Line in the Sand by Carter Malkasian.

    Iraqization is a dead-end strategy. But there is still some hope of saving the country, and it lies in an unlikely place: local Sunni militias and police.

    For more than two years, the heart of U.S. military strategy in Iraq has been “Iraqization,” the creation of an effective Iraqi security force that can take the place of U.S. Marines and soldiers. Thereby, the United States can eventually withdraw without leaving behind a terrorist safe haven and fractured Iraq. A wide range of military officers, policymakers, and scholars argue that through re-invigorated American efforts at training, equipping, and advising the Iraqi Army, any shortcomings in the Iraqi security forces can be overcome. Even Democrats who oppose the surge strategy support Iraqization, contending that Iraqi security forces are perfectly capable of suppressing violence now but that only when the United States “stands down” will they truly “stand up.”

    Between February 2004 and February 2005, and later from February to August 2006, I served as an advisor to the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) in Al Anbar province. During that time I interviewed members of the Iraqi Army and police, held discussions with American advisers, and directly observed Iraqi Army and police operations. Al Anbar is overwhelmingly Sunni and infamously a center of insurgent activity. Therefore, it is critical to the success of the Iraqization strategy. Failure there means a U.S. withdrawal would leave hard-core insurgent groups, specifically Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), free to operate and possibly organize terrorist operations outside the province. Even if it is successful everywhere else in Iraq, Iraqization will have failed if it cannot work in Al Anbar...

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    Default And if you see fit...

    Give it a bump and a vote at Real Clear Politics. Thanks - Dave

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    I have been saying this since I have been here. It is a shame this was not done sooner. I love the quote "Nothing strikes fear in an Insurgent like the sight of a Police Uniform."

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    Smile It is the one he does not see he truly fears

    I like your choice in police pics. Plain cloths cops for insurgents is even more unnerving.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    MASON, thanks. On a more serious note what the article is proposing is nothing but my 4SW theory. The Secret Slapout Shanghai Strategy. Here it is in a nutshell. The way the Shanghai Municipal Police and the China Marines controlled the situation was by dividing and segregating the city by ethnic groups. They then instituted the SMP reserves (trained militia support to police) and one of the most extensive "population pass" id card systems I have ever seen. The Police and reserves were recruited from the" local ethnic "groups who had extensive local intelligence. All under the umbrella of the British led police commission. The Marines protected the International settlement and major American infrastructure and backed up the SMP if needed for major riots,etc. The famous Shanghai Riot Busters and the term "GANGBUSTER" comes from here also.

    COIN is simple all these super educated types try to make it complicated. It is nothing but hard ass grinding police work until you begin to stabilize things. Then the "local" leaders can begin to build the type of society that they want!! Which will not be what we want, but we will have truly gained a friend.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    MASON, thanks. On a more serious note what the article is proposing is nothing but my 4SW theory. The Secret Slapout Shanghai Strategy. Here it is in a nutshell. The way the Shanghai Municipal Police and the China Marines controlled the situation was by dividing and segregating the city by ethnic groups. They then instituted the SMP reserves (trained militia support to police) and one of the most extensive "population pass" id card systems I have ever seen. The Police and reserves were recruited from the" local ethnic "groups who had extensive local intelligence. All under the umbrella of the British led police commission. The Marines protected the International settlement and major American infrastructure and backed up the SMP if needed for major riots,etc. The famous Shanghai Riot Busters and the term "GANGBUSTER" comes from here also.

    COIN is simple all these super educated types try to make it complicated. It is nothing but hard ass grinding police work until you begin to stabilize things. Then the "local" leaders can begin to build the type of society that they want!! Which will not be what we want, but we will have truly gained a friend.
    Good points, Slap. I'm working up a paper with a proposed unconventional warfare/COIN reaction force model, and its intent is to work in this way. IMO where COIN becomes "complicated" is when you start having turf wars over who does what (or who doesn't do what depending on the service/organization involved). Some of it may also stem from the US practice of approaching law enforcement and military affairs as two totally separate things (never the two shall meet and all that).
    "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."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Steve Metz, you wouldn't recognize Millbrook since the new Hyundai plant has been built here...place is growing by leaps and bounds. I have read some of your papers before. I am reading your new one now, well I printed it off and will read it this weekend. I ways trying to find a paper called Operational Vision:The Way Means reach the End by some guy named John Scholott. It was done in 1992 ever heard of it? Do you know if it is online somewhere? Later

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Link to the main citation for it. CARL comes up empty on it, but it's also an older paper.
    "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."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    That's it. I misspelled his name but that is the right paper.

    Looks like you could get it from DTIC.

    I'll go search the AKO white pages and see if the guy is still in the Army. If so, I'll ask him if he has a copy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Looks like you could get it from DTIC.

    I'll go search the AKO white pages and see if the guy is still in the Army. If so, I'll ask him if he has a copy.

    No Schlott in AKO. And the Army War College library doesn't have it. The JFSC library apparently does.

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    The article seems to make sense from the security perspective. That is, if your goal is to eliminate AQI and the local Sunnis won't trust the mainly Shia Army, let them form a Sunni militia to do it. However, doesn't this cut against the central COIN tenant of establishing the legitimacy of the government?

    Maybe this is indeed necessary, but this path would seem to ultimately lead to, as the author indicates, a partitioned Iraq. If memory serves, imperial powers tried the militia option in the past and found it quite difficult to turn them off once the immediate threat was defeated. Certainly we would see the same thing as I think the Sunni are not likely to lay down arms once AQI is defeated. Wouldn't they come to view these militia as indispensable to their security since they don't trust the Shia?

    The whole thing seems rather circular to me: we have a problem and a proposed solution; that solution leads to another problem which leads to another solution which, in turn, leads us back to something similar to the initial problem. I think I'm beginning to understand the soup with a knife analogy. Anyone care to shed some light?
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

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    LawVol that is why I say study Shanghai!!!. Shanghai was much more complicated then Iraqi is and a few Cops and some Marines finally got a lid on it before WW2. Some of the Chineses gangs make AQ look like the boy scouts. I explained this a while back and I am still at work so I will try and write more later.

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Default Slapout

    I just PM'd you on this. I'm renewing my interest in this area because I'm revisiting the paper I wrote on LE in a COIN environment. I'm going to try and find those two books you mentioned and give them a read. I'm sure they'll give me some ideas on expanding my paper; Troufion's thesis did as well.
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

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    Its interesting to me that while the IPs are more effective in Anbar, but up in Ninewa - at least in Mosul, it was the IA who carried the load. In the case of the IP, allot could be said about their lack of resources. As for the IA, they were adopting some LE like TTPs.

    I don't think its just a matter of the friendlies (includes CF CDR personalities), the enemy and neutrals also matter in how effective a certain COA is in a particular AO. CPT Travis Patriquim's .ppt pointed out how IPs from local villages knew who were AIF - its hard to hide that within a close knit village socities. As you get to larger cities, it may be easier to blend in, but indigenous guys who do regular patrols start to figure things out real quick - like 2 opals with 3-4 guys and a bongo truck traveling together is bad news. I'd see IA stop guys on the street in Mosul and ask why - I got some good explanations - but it really ammounted to cop sense.

    We should definetly be asking the question as to why what works in one area does or does not work in another. It may provide us away of comparing and contrasting other aspects of the fight - such as the cultural/political attitudes unique to certain areas.

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    Wow we finally got a little rain in Alabama, been so long the ground just sucked it up. 10 minutes later you could barely tell it happened.

    Back to the subject. Law Vol I wouldn't worry to much because as the author points out this is such a radical point of view it is not likely to be adopted as any kind of an overall game plan. But that General Mattis is Smart in how he is doing it. From what I have read he is being very carefully about who gets support, he is not just backing a pickup truck and throwing out some guns. Wired magazine had an article about how they are using portable fingerprint devices and retinal scans to record who gets what. This is in contrast to the SWJ Blog by Bing West but they will figure it out.

    Now 4SW theory. Many people here and other places have commented about how this is not like shall we say the classical COIN theory because of the number of players and the complexity involved. Don't worry about it! People cause crimes and wars and people can stop them. It is a man made problem it is not some sort of natural phenomenon. And if it is man made it can be man solved.

    As many experts have pointed out that one of the best ways to do COIN is to act like a BEAT COP. Problem is theses experts don't know what they are talking about. They wouldn't know a beat cop if one came up and hit them with their baton. Here is why. For all practical purposes beat cops are extinct in America that ended with the radio and the patrol car. THE SECOND AND MOST IMPORTANT PART IS BEAT COPS GREW UP IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD THEY PATROLLED IN. THEY NEW EVERYBODY WHICH IS WHY THEY WERE SO GOOD. And since they patrolled primarily on foot they reinforced long standing relationships and were able to develop outstanding local intelligence.

    So America forces are kind of screwed when it comes to using one of the most useful tools to do COIN. So what do you do. Recruit the local population and train them as police officers and reserves (militias). Is it a perfect method no. Is it a good enough method to achieve stabilization. I think so but time will. Combined with the support of the local leaders and the flexibility to let them develop their area as they would like in accordances with their customs and traditions we may even have a good enough long term solution. Again time will tell. Thats my nickles worth.

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    "The article seems to make sense from the security perspective. That is, if your goal is to eliminate AQI and the local Sunnis won't trust the mainly Shia Army, let them form a Sunni militia to do it. However, doesn't this cut against the central COIN tenant of establishing the legitimacy of the government?"

    Yes, this does--leading us to ask if our operations in Iraq, or at least in Baghdad, are best understood as a counterinsurgency.

    Doug

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    Default Echoes of Africa

    The idea of trusting, arming and using your opponents has plenty of precedence.

    Witness the use of 'turned' guerillas by the Rhodesians, or PLAN members turned by the South African Koevet. (For easily accessible / available texts about this, check out most of the stuff by Peter Stiff - just take a pinch of salt if you do not subscribe to the belief that the Apartheid era RSA government was just 'misunderstood').

    My understanding is that this works well tactically and operationally, but ultimately fails at the Strategic level. Given that an insurgency is ultimately about issues the insurgent has with the governance of the state, this suggests that it is not the answer in the long run, but a tool to be used in conjunction with others.

    (Another observation - what happens if the insurgents win is not pretty for those previously co-opted by the state.)

    Doug,

    you have intimated here (and previously) that you might not be facing an insurgency. Have you had derived any other opinion (that you can share) on a 'label' for what you are grappling with?

    Cheers

    Mark

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    Default Vietnam

    Kit Carson Scouts used by the Marine Corps in Vietnam are another example.

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    The idea of trusting, arming and using your opponents has plenty of precedence.

    Witness the use of 'turned' guerillas by the Rhodesians, or PLAN members turned by the South African Koevet. (For easily accessible / available texts about this, check out most of the stuff by Peter Stiff - just take a pinch of salt if you do not subscribe to the belief that the Apartheid era RSA government was just 'misunderstood').

    My understanding is that this works well tactically and operationally, but ultimately fails at the Strategic level. Given that an insurgency is ultimately about issues the insurgent has with the governance of the state, this suggests that it is not the answer in the long run, but a tool to be used in conjunction with others.

    (Another observation - what happens if the insurgents win is not pretty for those previously co-opted by the state.)

    Doug,

    you have intimated here (and previously) that you might not be facing an insurgency. Have you had derived any other opinion (that you can share) on a 'label' for what you are grappling with?

    Cheers

    Mark
    Mark,

    Not sure I agree that it ultimately fails at the strategic level. An argument can be made that counterinsurgents must first erode the capability of the insurgents for violence in order to have "space" to undertake political and economic reform. Turning former insurgents CAN provide this space. The issue is whether the state using the space for reform or simply assumes "problem solved," thus allowing the insurgents to eventually reform.

    Along the same lines, here's an entry I added to my blog yesterday:

    Centers of Gravity and Insurgency

    When Americans stumble into insurgency, we bring along our own perspectives and prejudices, however inapplicable. This shapes our approach, sometimes in paralyzing ways. No where is this more glaring than in our emphasis on "legitimacy," defined as publish acceptance of authority, and in our tendency to define public support as the "center of gravity" in the conflict.

    In reality, most people caught up in insurgency are and remain fearfully passive, wanting only for both sides to leave them alone. Any public support won through "hearts and minds" efforts is fleeting, an expedient chimera.

    The decisive factors--the true "centers of gravity"--are the ability of each side to sustain its flow of recruits and to infiltrate the opponent. Stop an insurgent movement from recruiting and from infiltrating the security forces and it loses. Inversely, an insurgent movement wins when it collapses the will and coherence of the security forces, thus staunching the government's ability to recruit.

    In Iraq, protecting civilians is a laudable goal. But it is not the key to success. The key to success is sustaining the flow of recruits, the will, and the coherence of government security forces, and stopping infiltration into them by the insurgents.

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    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Steve,

    I think that you are right about the need to maintain recruits and fighters at the tactical and operational level in order to have some success.

    Arguably the South Africans were pretty good at this and, through turned guerillas in various operational theatres (working for both Koevet and various recces) and bribery (such as the black politicians they got to run the so -called 'Bantustans') could have 'played on' for a lot longer than they eventually did. The point I am suggesting is that maintenance of the 'fight' and 'order' ultimately do little to address issues of rectitude and (that ill defined and contested term) legitimacy. They get so aroused by their operational succes at turning belligerants (which I guess is what you are saying) that they forget about why folks are fighting them in the first place. This is often reflected in their IO.

    The RSA, demonstrably, did very well at the maintenance of the fight, but ultimately never addressed the other. This is what eventually unhinged them strategically. There is a remains a large difference between turning warriors in the fight , and convincing the wider public who may be against you. The CDF of the SADF recognised this when he advised his generals that they were not fighting for 'total victory' but for sufficient time for the politicians to 'wake up' to the fact that apartheid was never going to be acceptable and negotiate an appropriate compromise.

    I suspect, from my very limited knowledge, that the same might apply in Iraq. Carter's point about the Sunni does seem to offer an operational boost. But, and he concedes this, it does not resolve the strategic end. As has been pointed out, it might even further complicate things in the long run.

    Concluding, I think you are right, if the time bought is used to undertake the necessary reforms. Historical example suggests that the hubris of operational success takes over and that this falls by the by.... illogically, the operational success actually convinces them that they can win by mainitaining the same strategic path

    Regards,
    Mark
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 06-16-2007 at 12:18 PM.

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