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Thread: A Thin Blue Line in the Sand

  1. #21
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    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
    The South African case also illustrates what is, I think, an important strategic element of insurgencies: they often start with both sides seeking decisive victory, i.e. the annihilation of the other. But as they drag on, they become "ripe for resolution" when both sides are willing to accept less than total victory. An argument could be made that the white South Africans were strategically successful in that they ended up with a better deal than they might have.

    That leads me to wonder whether Iraq is ripe for resolution now--whether the Sunni Arabs and the Shiites are willing to accept less than total victory. I find the leadership of the Sunni Arabs repulsive and am badly bothered by the idea that a group might interject itself into a democratic government but force, but Iraqis may be at the point where they have to decide whether they 'd rather be right or safe. Life is often sad, forcing people to made very difficult choices.

  2. #22
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    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.[/I]
    Steve Metz, I pretty much agree with this. I wrote a while back when we had a similar discussion that the COG of Insurgents is their freedom of movement. I called them stealth people. Like the article says if they wore uniforms it would be over in a week. Protecting the population is step 2! Step 1 is figuring out which part of the population to protect! When you do that the enemy becomes exposed! And just like LE that is the hard part which is why some type of initial population census is critical. Which was very much the key to Shanghai. Little side note the expression to be Shanghaied means to be kidnapped or hijacked sounds like Iraq to me.

  3. #23
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    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
    And another thought--the success of the South African outcome illustrates another point that I've come to believe: the empowerment of women is a crucial part (and greatly overlooked) component of strategic success in counterinsurgency. South Africa broke from African tradition in this. It also does not bode well for Iraq.

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    Question - why are you lumping Sunni and Shia into two recognizable blocks when it is clear that there has been and will continue to be significant fragmentation of these two groups?

    I've found one open source that identifies 77 different terrorist groups in Iraq alone...http://www.terrorismknowledgebase.or...oup&regionid=1

    I understand there is ebb and flow to the importance and even existance to these groups, but none the less, it seems that Iraq is much more complicated than just lumping these groups into Shia and Sunni categories. Yes, this might be the easiest way to identify insurgent groups, but I don't think it creates a situation where any type of negotiation will satisfy either one of these two blocks.

    I think the situation there is like two layer cakes - one Shia and one Sunni. There are layers of different groups infighting amongst themselves, and they have to come to some kind of inner solution and form a block of political worthiness first. Then the Sunni and Shia problem can be tackled, and then once that is done, the Kurd issue can be addressed.

  5. #25
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Ski,Here is a link to paper about how to use tribes across the entire DIME spectrum to achieve our goals. It was written by a civilian member of the army corps of engineers. One of the best papers I have ever read about the risks and rewards for forming alliances with tribes or Gangs from my point of view. This fits right in with the article on the thin blue line blog article.


    http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute...les/PUB619.pdf
    Last edited by slapout9; 06-17-2007 at 02:15 AM. Reason: check stuff

  6. #26
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    And another thought--the success of the South African outcome illustrates another point that I've come to believe: the empowerment of women is a crucial part (and greatly overlooked) component of strategic success in counterinsurgency. South Africa broke from African tradition in this. It also does not bode well for Iraq.
    Steve,

    I am with you on your last two posts. (all this agreement probably doesn't make interesting reading....) I think the South African 'compromise' is a useful case study. The only problem in that case (as you know) is getting people from both sides to talk on the record about what really transpired. I think it certainly offers an interesting example of what can happen if you can quote negotiate with terrorists unquote.

    There are many other examples of compromise that led to peace. One might argue, for example, that the success in Malaya was at least partially built upon a compromise from the start - that the British had already conceded independence to the Malays , which then made the fight not about anti-colonialism but the form of the independent Malaysia. It may have been a very different fight if the insurgents ahd been able to motivate the wider ethnic Malay community by efefctively using the independence argument rather than just the socialist workers paradise one.

    I do not know anywhere near enough about Iraq to even presume to offer an opinion as to whether some form of compromise is a possibility there , but I daresay that there are people on this forum who do and would be willing to offer a view!

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    (

    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,

    I'm on record as saying we have two missions--COIN and nascent peace enforcement. I think the latter is more ascendant, complicated by terrorism (which I find distinct from insurgency), crime, international actors, internecine squabbles, and etc. Some of these tasks can be wrapped up under COIN, but there are also tensions between them, and I'm coming to believe that calling this whole thing "COIN" (at least in Baghdad) has some significant limitations. I wish I had a better grand theory, but I don't think there's much precedent for what we're doing, and theory tends to lag practice.

    This is not to say that some basic principle of COIN do not apply to virtually all small wars or "wars among the people." Securing the population, the importance of HUMINT, and transitioning with capable, credible indigenous security forces seem to span everything we're doing. So viewing this as COIN is a step (a huge step) in the right direction. I'm just not certain it is the endstate, or best descriptor, and don't want us to rest on our theoretical laurels.

    Back to work,

    Doug

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    SSI, 25 Jan 08: Development and Reform of the Iraqi Police Forces
    This paper will seek to show how social, political, cultural, and environmental factors have combined to impede Iraqi police development in ways that are predictable, understandable, and, with external help, resolvable. The corruption and abuse found in the Iraqi police services cannot simply be explained by poor leadership, the actions of a few corrupt individuals, or even the competing agendas of the various militias that are fighting for influence in post-Saddam Iraq. Rather, one must explain why such practices occur despite the fact they are unacceptable according to Iraqi cultural norms.

    Organizations are embedded in culture and society. Thus to understand the weaknesses as well as the strengths of an organization, one must understand how a culture’s basic assumptions and espoused values shape organizational and individual behavior. Further, understanding how each of these factors relates to each other allows observers to understand as well as predict how environmental factors shape individual and collective behavior. This ability to understand and predict is essential to policymakers and advisors as it will allow them to better determine what kinds of programs they need to develop as well as where those programs need to be targeted.....
    Complete 59 page paper at the link.

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    USIP, 4 Aug 09: Iraq's Interior Ministry: The Key to Police Reform
    ....Police are the first line of defense and the most visible face of the government to the population. The Iraqi police are supervised, administered and trained by the Ministry of Interior (MOI), a massive institution that does not have a U.S. parallel. MOI’s responsibilities in addition to supporting Iraq’s police forces include protection of government facilities, border control, tribal affairs, and immigration and passport regulation. Currently, the MOI is the largest employer in the country. Success in reforming the ministry and improving the quality of its personnel and procedures has ramifications that go beyond merely improving levels of security.....

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    USIP, 18 Oct 11: The Iraq Federal Police: U.S. Police Building under Fire
    This report chronicles U.S. efforts to train and equip an indigenous constabulary force to control insurgent and militia violence in Iraq. The United States does not have constabulary forces. In earlier conflicts, the United States called upon the United Nations or European allies to provide a gendarmerie. In Iraq, the UN police forces that were a feature of peace operations in the Balkans were not available, leaving the United States with only one option—to develop an Iraqi constabulary force under fire.

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