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Thread: New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict

    Latest from Dave Kilcullen at the SWJ blog - New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict.

    I asked the SWJ to pass along that I’ve been continuously in the field of late and haven’t posted to the blog as much as I would have liked to. I am still very much engaged in the Small Wars Journal community and will be posting here again soon. In the meantime I offer up this article published in the June 2007 issue of the Department of State’s eJournal. I might add that there are some excellent articles in this issue of eJournal – well worth following the link and taking a look around.

    New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict

    By David J. Kilcullen

    Despite our rather rosy hindsight view of World War II, there was considerable dissent at the time about the war's aims, conduct, and strategy. But virtually no one disagreed that it was indeed a war or that the Axis powers were the enemy/aggressors.

    Contrast this with the war on terrorism. Some dispute the notion that the conflict can be defined as a war; others question the reality of the threat. Far-left critics blame American industrial interests, while a lunatic fringe sees September 11, 2001, as a massive self-inflicted conspiracy. More seriously, people disagree about the enemy. Is al-Qaida a real threat or a creature of Western paranoia and overreaction? Is it even a real organization? Is al-Qaida a mass movement or simply a philosophy, a state of mind? Is the enemy all terrorism? Is it extremism? Or is Islam itself in some way a threat? Is this primarily a military, political, or civilizational problem? What would "victory" look like? These fundamentals are disputed, as those of previous conflicts (except possibly the Cold War) were not.

    In truth, the al-Qaida threat is all too real. But ambiguity arises because this conflict breaks existing paradigms—including notions of "warfare," "diplomacy," "intelligence," and even "terrorism." How, for example, do we wage war on nonstate actors who hide in states with which we are at peace? How do we work with allies whose territory provides safe haven for nonstate opponents? How do we defeat enemies who exploit the tools of globalization and open societies, without destroying the very things we seek to protect?...

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    Latest from Dave Kilcullen at the SWJ blog - New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict.

    Dave--if you're reading this. I have something to add to the "it's a small word" category. I'm sponsoring the International Fellow from Singapore for the U.S. Army War College class of 2008 and it turns out he's an old mate of yours--Wang Kit Ng. He wants to get in touch with you so I'm giving him your email. He'll be over at my house for his formal introduction to slow smoked Southern style barbeque in a few hours.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default I posted this to the Blog as well

    Great article. The problems of fielding the right structure and capabilities seem to be the ones that we are having difficulty discussing and finding consensus on. The paradox is that while the spending is one sided, no other existing agency has the demonstrated capability to absorb or create the functions that DoD can (albeit painfully).

    Hence the call for identification of strategic services, and the creation of capabilities.

    The question then I guess is what is the best path for change? Do you create those capabilities/services from within an existing agency, or do you create something new, but based on concepts drawn from relevant historical examples?

    The problems with the former are competition from within the agency, resistance to change, and perspective drawn from institutional bias. The problems of creating from scratch are title infringement, recruitment of personnel from limited, existing pools, justification of a budget, and generating desired capabilities. The former will almost certainly take longer and not meet the full intent; the latter will be more painful up front and receive criticism for what are perceived to be failures or shortfalls until it gets itself sorted out . The latter will certainly require truly talented leadership that can articulate a vision, drive the organization, testify before congress and the American people, and must possess the courage and fortitude commensurate to the task. These are some the risks of the two paths. MacGregor/Murray/Knox did some great work on inter-war change, but I think this may even be a greater challenge in some ways.

    If it is a zero sum gain (meaning it will compete for a portion of the budget already identified and allocated), then it requires strategic leadership and vision at the national level to provide the direction and impetus to make it happen. Who gets less, and what is the cost? Existing agencies and services can help or hinder. It starts by challenging our own assumptions about our relevancy and our ability to not only meet current demands, but to succeed. We must ask ourselves are we willing to sacrifice part of our self interests in order to field the types of capabilities/strategic services that are currently beyond us. We must step out of our biases and prejudices about how we have traditionally justified our roles. If existing agencies are unwilling to help, if the leadership is not present to arbitrate or direct, then any new service/agency or component of an existing service/agency will not only have to address the enemy from without, but the tripping and back stabbing from the enemies within.

    I think that is the only way we can identify what resources can be redirected and where we can take risk. That we must assume risk is guaranteed, we cannot be good at everything. We must decide what is most important and doing this means building a clear consensus and understanding of what is the consequence of not fully addressing this dangerous and likely threat, vs. those that are more vague and unlikely. This is going to be hard and uncomfortable; after all those in the security services get paid to be skeptical and paranoid.

    The military is charged with preserving and defending the constitution – this makes for a conservative culture. The only way to address this may be by fundamentally revisiting our notions of security. Self-reliance for everything is an American hallmark. Since WWII our participation in alliances and collective security arrangements have never prevented us from pursuing the means to protect our interests outside of those arrangements. A move to balance the focus on conflict prevention (outside of sheer military deterrence) and conflict termination (winning the peace) vs. one that invests disproportionately on conflict resolution is a major national strategic culture change.

    As you point out, we must also ask what it means to be "decisive" today and tomorrow? Is the word "decisive" a limiting adjective outside of our own culture. Does it suggest an expectation that the problems we face can be permenantly addressed quickly, vs. the need to remain involved and perform a kind of long term maintenance. Managing expectations will have allot to do with how we acknowledge and address capability gaps.

    Personally, I believe your description of our way forward warrants involvement. It may be the most efficient and effective means to move forward in an age of indefinite conflict with the conditions / environment you have outlined in your essay. I only hope we don't require another catalyst on the scale of 9/11 to move forward.

    Thank you sir for a very thoughtful essay.
    R/S Rob

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    Council Member Dominique R. Poirier's Avatar
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    Default It's the in thing, it seems.

    Sir,

    I have read and then carefully re-read you with marked interest.

    I cannot but confess that all this you and Mr. Max Boot say about this idea of creating a new structure based upon the OSS model sets me wondering whether suited units and services do not exist already. If ever, then Mr. Max Boot and you certainly mark a point, nonetheless, when you complain that existing structures tasked to fight terrorism are challenged by terrorists organizations on the ground of adaptability to quick changes and evolutions.

    I assume they are, possibly.

    Then, while trying to imagine what might be an “OSS II” in the XXIth century I remembered that someone has previously had a very similar idea in 2003; or earlier according to all likelihood. I name the popular novelist Tom Clancy, who made this idea the central theme of a novel he titled The Teeth of the Dragon. The methodology and policy of this fictional special operations service the author christens “The Campus” favors hasty ways of doing things, if I may say so.

    Well, all this did seem unlikely to me at first glance; until I seriously wondered whether it shouldn’t suit the exceptional circumstances since they are as exceptional as they were in 1942, indeed.

    Now, media and public opinion during WWII bore little resemblance with what they are today. That’s why we might reasonably hazard the guess that were the existence of such a service be brought to public knowledge at some point, then it would make a bit of a fuss.

    That’s probably why, in The Teeth of the Dragon, Tom Clancy made The Campus an "off the books" intelligence agency freed from the shackles of Congressional oversight.

    Please, take this comment as a mere remark in passing.

    Best regards.

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Blog Comments

    Interesting reading in the blog comments section of New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict.

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominique R. Poirier View Post
    Sir,

    I have read and then carefully re-read you with marked interest.

    I cannot but confess that all this you and Mr. Max Boot say about this idea of creating a new structure based upon the OSS model sets me wondering whether suited units and services do not exist already. If ever, then Mr. Max Boot and you certainly mark a point, nonetheless, when you complain that existing structures tasked to fight terrorism are challenged by terrorists organizations on the ground of adaptability to quick changes and evolutions.

    I assume they are, possibly.

    Then, while trying to imagine what might be an “OSS II” in the XXIth century I remembered that someone has previously had a very similar idea in 2003; or earlier according to all likelihood. I name the popular novelist Tom Clancy, who made this idea the central theme of a novel he titled The Teeth of the Dragon. The methodology and policy of this fictional special operations service the author christens “The Campus” favors hasty ways of doing things, if I may say so.

    Well, all this did seem unlikely to me at first glance; until I seriously wondered whether it shouldn’t suit the exceptional circumstances since they are as exceptional as they were in 1942, indeed.

    Now, media and public opinion during WWII bore little resemblance with what they are today. That’s why we might reasonably hazard the guess that were the existence of such a service be brought to public knowledge at some point, then it would make a bit of a fuss.

    That’s probably why, in The Teeth of the Dragon, Tom Clancy made The Campus an "off the books" intelligence agency freed from the shackles of Congressional oversight.

    Please, take this comment as a mere remark in passing.

    Best regards.
    You raise a very important point. The big question is whether the current threat is, in fact, on a magnitude of 1942. If so, then restrictions of civil rights and government openness might be required. If not, then we certainly don't want a government organization that operates outside the normal rules of transparency and oversight.

    I myself am of the school that we are not at this point, but may be in the future. See, for instance, this little essay.

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    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default OSS type structure

    Rob Thornton wrote:

    "The problems with the former are competition from within the agency, resistance to change, and perspective drawn from institutional bias. The problems of creating from scratch are title infringement, recruitment of personnel from limited, existing pools, justification of a budget, and generating desired capabilities. The former will almost certainly take longer and not meet the full intent; the latter will be more painful up front and receive criticism for what are perceived to be failures or shortfalls until it gets itself sorted out "
    The original OSS acheived its successes ( and many failures) under Donovan because for a time General Donovan and his agents were outside the normal chain of military command and "Wild Bill" himself encouraged initiative and experimentation. Even when the OSS was subordinated to the military later in the war, some theater commanders like Eisenhower found giving OSS teams a wide degree of autonomy proved to be a "win-win" situation. Not every commander was so wise and after the war, Army and Naval intelligence, along with J.Edgar Hoover, successfully lobbied for the dissolution of the OSS. Such bureaucratic opposition should again be expected for what Boot proposes.

    Maybe what is needed here is not a new agency but autonomous, multidisciplinary, teams with decision authority and independent budgets, whose experienced members' careers/future promotion are judged not by bureaucratic superiors back home, eager to retaliate, but by a neutral metric related to the task at hand. When the mission is over, the team is dissolved and the members moved on to something else.

    Perhaps this can be a souped-up variation on what the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 intended to accomplish but never quite did with SES level officials, cross-bred with an updated Goldwater-Nichols type motivation to create interagency " jointness". You would get fluid, networked ( or at least modular), structure rather than a hierarchy that could be quickly assembled based upon skills and experience rather than rank.

    Congress would still have oversight and bureaucracies would still train their people in specialties but at a certain point their " stars" are removed from the control of empire-building, institution-defending, senior managers and freed to work on high priority tasks free of inside the beltway obstructionism.

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    Zenpundit:

    Congress would still have oversight and bureaucracies would still train their people in specialties but at a certain point their " stars" are removed from the control of empire-building, institution-defending, senior managers and freed to work on high priority tasks free of inside the beltway obstructionism.
    The counter argument to this revolves around risks and resources. Taking the "Stars" out of institutions reduces the perfomance of the institution.

    The question, debated since WWII, and probably still debated for all I know in army circles, is whether the cost, in terms of unit performance, of removal of good junior leaders from "line" units for special forces, and the high level of logistics and other support required by these special units is justified by results.

    As for bureacratic oversight, there have been many previous examples of "rogue" programs of questionable legality and effectiveness, as a result of lack of bureaucratic oversight. The Iran-Contra affair comes to mind....

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default The Policy / Strategy equation

    Unless we get a foreign policy that focuses on the use of power to treat the causes of problems vs. the symptoms of problems I'm afraid not much will change. That would be the mechanism that reworked the NSS and identified the required means and capabilities to fulfill that policy. Without it, there will probably be little serious change. Several former SecStates were quoated in an article in the Washington Post this morning about foreign policy recommendations.

    As Zen and some others have pointed out - without legislation there is no forcing mechanism.

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    Council Member Dominique R. Poirier's Avatar
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    Default I guess I agree with you.

    Mr. Metz,
    the essay you published on the National Strategy Forum brings certain things back to their true respective values; and you do present them in a sound manner likely to bring anyone back to earth about the subject of our exchange.
    Since I have the sentiment that we share the same opinion about the ethical question and possible negative consequences of such undertakings in term of image, this previous remark addresses especially the economic dimension of our efforts against Al-Qaeda as you presented it in an opportune and no-nonsensical manner.

    I feel obliged to admit that I missed to weight my words when I wrote that circumstances are as grave as they were in 1942.

    Coincidence makes that I have just been attempting to consider Muslim terrorism and insurgency under a new angle since some days. Although it would be too early to express myself about my first finds at this point I can hardly resist the desire to say that I spotted some points I hold as significant shortcomings in the rhetoric and “policy” of Al-Qaeda and other non-state Muslim terrorist groups; shortcomings that might constitute the germs of their own disease I ever my deductions are correct. A disease that is likely to be fatal on the long term, in that last case.

    I am sorry not to elaborate and not to be as explicit as I would like but just let’s say that we, people of the occidental world, have deliberately resorted to rhetoric very similar to this Al-Qaeda uses today, indeed.
    We did it during WWI, to be precise, in our endeavor to foster emulation among youth; and it worked well at that time in France and in Germany, more especially.

    I am talking here about notions such as: The Myth of War Experience as George L. Mosse called it in Fallen Soldiers; the love of the grandiose and the pathetic; and about the Christian notions of worship of the fallen and death as sacrifice and resurrection.

    All these Romantic notions reached their firmament during WWI. But they failed to work as well in the aftermath; albeit quite so during the Spanish War and with numerous foreign recruits of the German army during WWII. For, death toll during the trenches warfare reached an unprecedented and concerning level. That’s mainly why this rhetoric faded in the occidental world thereafter, and even totally disappeared from the whole world after WWII; but it born again in the Arabic world since the coming of Nasser on the political stage.

    It was something we “experimented”, if I may say so, as those Muslims are “experimenting” it since some years.

    Meanwhile, for wants of an OSS II can we assist, in one way or another, a faster fading of the Romantic period in the Arabic world?

    Best regards,

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    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default Networks vs. Hierarchies

    Walrus wrote:

    "The counter argument to this revolves around risks and resources. Taking the "Stars" out of institutions reduces the perfomance of the institution.

    The question, debated since WWII, and probably still debated for all I know in army circles, is whether the cost, in terms of unit performance, of removal of good junior leaders from "line" units for special forces, and the high level of logistics and other support required by these special units is justified by results."
    Indeed, that is the historical counter-argument against elite units. The counter-counter argument would be that the elite units are not designed npot simply "better" in terms of performance but "different", to do things regular units cannot do well at all. That would be the case here in that, to paraphrase John Arquilla, it takes a network to defeat a network.

    Left to their own devices, our hierarchical, Washington-based bureaucracies cannot react fast enough to keep pace with our decentralized adversaries.

    "As for bureacratic oversight, there have been many previous examples of "rogue" programs of questionable legality and effectiveness, as a result of lack of bureaucratic oversight. The Iran-Contra affair comes to mind...."
    Iran-Contra no more proves that legally established networks would be less amenable to Legislative oversight than Watergate would suggest that tape-recorders are bad. Hierarchies and networks are simply organizational structures that are excel at some tasks over others. Hierarchies have a lot of advantages but outmanuvering elusive networks isn't one of them.

    Rob Thornton wrote:

    "- without legislation there is no forcing mechanism."
    Absolutely. Budget and decision authority has to go to those closer to the problem than the banks of the Potomac

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Est. Standing Joint Nation Building TFs (JTF-NBs)

    Had to do up a position paper on Army or Joint strategic issues for BSAP (along w/ Sen LDR talking points) - since we've been talking about this allot its been sticking in my mind. I thought it would serve as another point for brainstorming - we do allot of that here and its good. Well-back to the books- Regards, Rob

    Establishing Standing Joint Nation Building Task Forces

    PURPOSE:

    • To provide the COCOMS with a pool of nation building capabilities in a modular package based on needs defined by JIM (Joint, Inter-Agency, Multi-Nat’l) coordination and objectives.

    DISCUSSION:

    • Much attention has recently been generated in regards to nation building type capability gaps identified through OIF, OEF, CJTF-HOA, and the Philippines. The gaps occur between the spectrum of providing security and stability. Arguably, the desired role of the military prior to OIF was limited to security, and the providing of assistance toward stability only insofar as establishing those conditions which might allow host nation institutions to re-establish their pre-conflict roles. The pre-OIF scale of the problem was ideally limited, and the assumption was that the need could be addressed by NGOs, OGAs and regional partners. OIF & OEF have challenged that assumption by linking absent capabilities to strategic shortfalls.

    • As the United States redefines its strategy with missions such as CJTF-HOA it raises several questions:

    o Is U.S. strategy moving toward conflict prevention as a means to defeat violent extremism?

    o What role is American military power to play in shaping the environment and ensuring stability?

    o What capability gaps can be addressed within the U.S. military and which ones must be outsourced to OGAs, NGOs, Private Contracts & Regional and Global Partners?

    o What are the risks and benefits in using U.S. military assets in conflict prevention roles (other then deterrence)?

    Historical Shift

    o Prior to OIF most of the Nation Building functions undertaken by the U.S. Military were limited to security, humanitarian support such as the transportation and distribution of supplies, treatment of casualties, coordination of disaster relief and other functions that were seen as natural relationships between war-fighting missions and tasks and missions other then war. The periodic, but temporal missions themselves were often seen as an opportunity to exercise the military in real world missions and enhance U.S. prestige abroad.

    o In OIF the U.S. military operates in an environment that is both a security and a stability challenge. It is a long term commitment. It is not benign and as such many capacity building organizations can not or will not operate there. In fact, a major component of the enemy’s strategy is designed to dissuade traditional NGO, Multi-National partner, and Host Nation initiatives from stabilization efforts such as judicial reform, economic vitality and social pluralism. This has placed the burden on the United States military as U.S. OGAs are not staffed to go out and conduct the level or type of field work in this environment.

    o The U.S. recognizes that Iraq is becoming a model for the enemy on how to destabilize nation states where insurgents and terrorists are bred. The enemy uses the appearance of ineffectual government to convert populations to extremist views which facilitate the terrorist ideology. To combat this growing threat means developing new capabilities and organizations that can not only assist in securing targeted nations, but can develop host nation capacity for stability. While ideally OGAs would take on this role, they lack the expeditionary framework and capabilities for doing so. This is the crux of the paradigm shift, the enemy has identified where the dividing lines exist between the elements of U.S. power and seeks to create situations where our strengths can be used against us.

    JNBC Recommendations – A way forward

    • First look for more ways in which existing capabilities can be innovatively adapted from military missions to nation building tasks, then grouped to provide COCOMs a standing capability that is robust enough to meet the emerging needs prevalent in a nation building environment
    o While capabilities are currently resourced to meet limited COCOM needs on a case by case basis, a strategy that focuses on conflict prevention and building capacity in target nations would benefit from having that suite of capabilities under a JTF with the resources and authority that go with it.

    • Second identify capability gaps and provide concurrent educational and training opportunities that cross train individual Joint service members for deployment on one year teams.
    o Current examples of this are the evolving advisory efforts (MiTTs, PTTs, and PRTs), however those are formed on an ad-hoc basis. This process may benefit from adopting a modular approach which would identify personnel skills sets and place them in a cue that involved Advanced Civil Schooling in a needed Nation Building area, internships with OGAs, and finally a train up and deployment in a JNB-TF - for a list of desirable skills consider UNICEF, US AID and other relative OGA and NGOs.

    • Third consider how much of the Joint force to apportion the cyclic mission of Nation Building based on projected needs that cannot be fulfilled by a combination of HN, regional/global partners, NGOs and OGAs
    o Providing JTF-NBs with the capabilities and skills required to perform the spectrum of complex nation building tasks will require a 2.5 to 3 year commitment per JTF. 1 year to obtain individual education and unit specific training, 6 months to 1 year to train to unit proficiency, and a 1 year deployment. However since the personnel draw is across the Joint spectrum, the impact on any one service will be lessened; additionally, once individuals are educated in their additional NB skill, that requirement can be waived the next time they are assigned to a JTF-NB.

    • Provide Inter-Agency reach back, or connectedness
    o It is beyond the current OGA capacity to field the depth and range of personnel to meet US needs in Nation Building, however using IT a HSOC (Home Station Operation Command) where limited OGA members could resolve problems or provide Inter-Agency throughput.

    RISKS & RISK MITIGATION
    • The #1 risk is the allocation of a large percentage of the Joint Force being allocated and configured to Nation Building vs. being templated against traditional war time roles & missions. There is no real way to mitigate this risk vs. the expansion of the Joint Force. However, recent experience suggests that the military will inherit more of those nation building tasks. Since this effort requires not only dedication of personnel and equipment, but continued education and internships, a significant portion of the Joint force will be committed.

    Senior Leader Briefing Card Comments:

    Establishing Standing Joint Nation Building Task Forces

    • OIF has raised the issue about U.S. capability gaps in Nation Building

    • The environment where nation building occurs today and tomorrow is unlikely to be a benign one

    • US OGAs do not have the capacity or capability to meet large scale need

    • The capacity resides in the U.S. military, however developing capabilities will require effort and commitment

    • There is risk in apportioning some of the Joint Force to dedicated nation Building

    Message: The enemy has taken advantage of globalization and the populations of impoverished nations to create safe havens for his organizations, and recruit additional foot soldiers. Unless the conditions that lead to destabilization are addressed, we will expend greater resources in conflict resolution and termination.
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 06-26-2007 at 01:13 AM.

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    Default Esoteric Divergence

    "Message: The enemy has taken advantage of globalization and the populations of impoverished nations to create safe havens for his organizations, and recruit additional foot soldiers. Unless the conditions that lead to destabilization are addressed, we will expend greater resources in conflict resolution and termination.[/QUOTE]"

    Part of this problem is the dilemma of jihadist commanders, organizers and financiers coming from non-impoverished nations with their education, worldliness, affluence and sophisticated IO, bearing messages of liberation and spiritual purity via the gun and jihad. Bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and some of the 9/11 hijackers are classic examples of this. What guarantee is there that if upon teaching a man to fish and feed himself, instead of simply giving him fish to eat, that said man will still not be receptive to the ideology of fundamentalist jihad? The alleviation of poverty and deprivation IMO does not create immunity from this. We have no clue as to how much money average Muslims living in non-impoverished nations are giving to the jihadist cause(s). We know some money is given but that to a degree contradicts our premise that material contentment eliminates the need for radicalism and violence. Something is afoot, that those living with plenty would support acts of violence directly aimed at Muslim civilians. Clothes, food, medicine, advisors, books, equipment, etc. in any large amount are not being funneled into impoverished nations, yet cash is being given to the radicals. From my own Peace Corps experience, I learned that from the perspective of recipients, the ideology behind humanitarian development is pretty much divorced from the implementation of goods and services. I was often asked why I left the good life with electricity, running water, cars and good food to come live in the bush. It was impossible for them to understand why I was there. Though I was always respected and never experienced any animosity, I was told more than once that Allah would provide what was truly needed. This is a tough nut to crack and I would agree that alleviating poverty certainly diminishes the tactical ability of radicals but it is not a panacea. If we look at the reality of Iraq and agree that Iraq posed no immediate strategic threat to America, we have to ask what gives us high enlistment rates and generates volunteerism amongst our young men, and women, that they would willingly face death and injury? Certainly not the food and pay and the chance to live in sand and heat and be shot at. I simply think there are many counterparts out there who come to Iraq and the Pakistan frontier and places like Chechnya and Kasmir for the same reasons. I just don’t think we have yet achieved a comprehensive understanding of the ideological drive of our foes. There are significant differences of opinion as to what really makes them tick and it transfers over to the application of doctrine and tactics and keeps both in too much flux. There is an esoteric divergence in our defense forces that the average citizen does not see and is not privy to. The fact that the COIN camp in particular is reaching out for new alliances, new input and insight from civilians clearly demonstrates this esoteric divergence.

    Something has to give. With .5+ trillion spent, roughly 4,000 KIA and 4+ years on two fronts, we don’t have much on the ground to show for it. Somebody has to step up to the plate because IMO our foes are capitalizing most on this divergence.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default I hear ya

    Goesh,
    I just don’t think we have yet achieved a comprehensive understanding of the ideological drive of our foes.
    I think that is why you see so many non-descriptive adjectives used to describe security challenges - words like - vague, nebulous, grey, etc.

    Trying to understand non-western motivations from a (our) philosophical point of view where there is a reasonably defined line between church and state and where pluralism is seen as a strength is tough to do.

    Empathy only gets you so far. Even defining the conditions that lead to destabilization must be placed in local or regional context - is there a universal context?

    I guess the best we can do is create enough flexibility to allow for it to be addressed on the ground - what you hope though is that no one will be led to believe that just because what might work in one place is applicable in whole to the next.

    One thing I do believe is that the divergence is probably a good sign. It shows that we are at least acknowledging that our off the shelf solution which kind of generalized responses are inadequate when considering that even small changes in geography or culture may require uniqueness in approach.

    It will be an interesting couple of decades at least.

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    I, too, have strong suspicions that poverty and violence are correlational, not necessarily causal. Even if it WERE causal, the foundations of poverty are NOT the lack of material goods; poverty has political/social foundations that cannot be addressed by "programs" and "financial aid", and I doubt sincerely that we could effectively eliminate it, worldwide, through the theft of taxpayers' money and redistribution to "the poor".

    Oddly enough, those who propose the strongest that material goods will stop violence are the first to accuse those who disagree with them of being "materialistic."

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default

    Once again I think we're seeing echoes of the terrorist groups from the 1970s and 1980s when it comes to some levels of motivation. If you look at the Baader-Meinhoff Gang (later the Red Army Faction), only one of their original members could claim to be of the working class they were supposed to be representing (and he gave himself up rather quickly). The rest were from reasonably comfortable backgrounds but with personal problems. Some of the early personalities in the Italian Red Brigades also came from reasonably prosperous backgrounds.

    Often it takes frustrated people with no real material wants but a need for a "mission" in life. Once they find that "mission" they become the hardest ones to deal with, because you can't really fill their needs.

    And that's my ramble for the morning. Now off for coffee.
    "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

  17. #17
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Are there (at least) 2 different types of terrorism to be concerned about? If we're talking about indig terror that is not facillitated by the state it is operating in, or if we're talking about a HN population that does not facillitate it as an alternative to functioning govt, or a group that is incapable of using state resources to aquire greater means - does that make a difference?

    I did up the paper because DR Kilcullen's piece was a kind of a challenge - that asks a question about not only the causal nature of terror, but how to mitigate it. It raises the possibility that there might be a pro-active vs. a reactive way to approach it. I confined the proposal pretty much to the military side - which has all kinds of down sides (bunches of headaches and rislks) - but because its mostly military would make it more streamlined, or to some degree lessen the overhead.

    The question is not only about the motivation of terrorist groups, but the way in which they are able to accelerate their growth and gain access to means they would not otherwise have.

    I'm sort of working through this, but I do beleive that transnational groups beleive that some groups are more respondant to their message then others - impoverished states with lack of governance in total or in areas (grey spaces) are more permissive for them. How do you counter that - is it better to be reactive or proactive? Which is more efficient in the long or short of it? What are the alternatives? What are the risks and benefits? I'm pretty sure AQ and like groups have done the cost benefit analysis - but I'm not sure we have. Our traditional options & strengths may have caused us to overlook options, and may have even pre-cluded us from some - condsider the multitude of reasons why states in N.Africa are uncomfortable with the idea of hosting AFRICOM. Even using the military in a more internationally perceived "humanitarian" role may only be seen as realist opportunism - depends on how you go about it.

    Regards, Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    I, too, have strong suspicions that poverty and violence are correlational, not necessarily causal. Even if it WERE causal, the foundations of poverty are NOT the lack of material goods; poverty has political/social foundations that cannot be addressed by "programs" and "financial aid", and I doubt sincerely that we could effectively eliminate it, worldwide, through the theft of taxpayers' money and redistribution to "the poor".

    Oddly enough, those who propose the strongest that material goods will stop violence are the first to accuse those who disagree with them of being "materialistic."
    Getting out of poverty requires income, that's already almost all. With income you can pay for what you need.
    The Black African tragedy is that even if one state suceeded in prospering, it would be drowned in the overall poverty around as there are few trade opportunities, too many diseases spilling over the borders and last but not least migrants that would fill any emptied slum quickly.
    Look at Sierra Leone - they were just a normal African country till the Liberian Civil War factions had burned their land's resources and moved on to the next one just like the mercenaries lived off Germany in the 17th century's 30 years war.

  19. #19
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Conditions or Problems

    What are the things that are going to effect the operational environment?

    Which ones are conditions which cannot be changed, but just have to be acconted for, and which ones are problems that exist in those conditions?

    Global warming for example is probably a condition - its getting warmer (not the "why" thread) and that is going to have an effect on people that will create some problems.

    Is poverty a condition or problem?

    How about Pandemics?

    Is terrorism a condition or a problem?

    My point is that solutions can be engineered to address a problem, but I'm not sure they apply to conditons.

    With conditions you mitigate effects - the condition does not really go away.

    That does not mean you can't do anything about a condition, particularly if its going to have an adverse effect that keeps you from doing what you need or want to do.

  20. #20
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    What are the things that are going to effect the operational environment?

    Which ones are conditions which cannot be changed, but just have to be acconted for, and which ones are problems that exist in those conditions?

    Global warming for example is probably a condition - its getting warmer (not the "why" thread) and that is going to have an effect on people that will create some problems.

    Is poverty a condition or problem?

    How about Pandemics?

    Is terrorism a condition or a problem?

    My point is that solutions can be engineered to address a problem, but I'm not sure they apply to conditons.

    With conditions you mitigate effects - the condition does not really go away.

    That does not mean you can't do anything about a condition, particularly if its going to have an adverse effect that keeps you from doing what you need or want to do.
    Funny you should mention that. I'm currently preparing comments on an HQDA concept paper that is trying to fit those things into the idea of "persistent conflict."

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