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Thread: New Interagency COIN Manual

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default New Interagency COIN Manual

    New Interagency COIN Manual - SWJ Blog.

    Via e-mail, an Inside the Pentagon report of a new Interagency COIN manual in the works:

    The State Department is leading an effort to issue a draft version of a counterinsurgency guide in the next four to six weeks to help Washington-based government agencies and departments defeat future subversive movements. A final doctrine is expected next year.
    The effort follows last year's Army and Marine Corps manual on the same subject.

    The new guide -- "Counterinsurgency for U.S. Government Policymakers: A Work in Progress" -- is an educational, strategic-level primer for senior policymakers, according to a State Department official in the bureau of political-military affairs...

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    Has counterinsurgency become our primary operational doctrine? In the American Army has FM3-24, "Counterinsurgency" replaced FM3-0 "Operations" in imporantance and influence? If so we are in deep trouble.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Has counterinsurgency become our primary operational doctrine? In the American Army has FM3-24, "Counterinsurgency" replaced FM3-0 "Operations" in imporantance and influence? If so we are in deep trouble.
    Sir,

    As a former ARS commander, I'm not going to tell you anything you don't already know.

    Not at the US Armor Center it hasn't. Nor will it. From a teaching standpoint (which I know you're fully aware of), if I can't get students to understand basic fundamentals in the context of HIC, then how the hell can they do it in COIN? If they don't know how to condcut IPB of a countryside and define the battlefield affects through OAKOC, how do I expect them to conduct IPB of an urban environment using ASCOPE?

    We teach them both, using HIC as a baseline and COIN as another aspect.

    Some would like to make COIN our primary doctrine. One of the first questions I hear of a new LT upon his arrival to Tactics is "why aren't we focusing on raids and cordon and searches?" They fail to realize (some never do) that everything they will do as a tank platoon leader will fall into the context of 8 platoon tactical tasks. If they're conducting a cordon, they're really setting and establishing a support by fire position. PTSEARS will still take place.

    Because COIN is in front of them; because 40% of my classes are in theater within 8 weeks of graduation, they tend to want to focus on COIN. We don't let them. The reason is this: Our job is to teach them how to think, not what to think.
    Last edited by RTK; 09-14-2007 at 10:59 AM.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Dear RTK:

    Right; and i might add that as a tactical battalion commander in Baghdad in 2006 the training that i drew most on was of the combat fundamentals that you describe in your posting. I drew most on the things i learned in the armor officer basic course; how to do TLPs, how to conduct fire and maneuver; how to talk to a company commander on the radio. I drew most on the things that i learned in the Infantry Officer Advanced course like how to do a commander's estimate. I drew most on the things that i learned as a Cavalry Squadron S-3 under a superb Squadron commander who taught me how to command and control a large tactical organization. Those are the types of things i drew on most and i am most happy to hear that they are still the focus at the great armor school of which you play such an important role in teaching our young officers.

    And for whatever it is worth, if i was still in Iraq and in command and someone asked me what should new combat lts be trained on I would have said almost verbatim what you say in your posting that the baseline for training is still HIC. That in my mind is the right answer!!!

    Unfortunately, beyond your classroom and the halls of the armor and infantry schools counterinsurgency doctrine has become dominant in our army. It has become so dominant that at higher levels of command it has pushed us toward dogmatism and limits our ability to think creatively. You might also be accused by the high-priests of coin doctrine that you are part of the problem of the still conventionally minded American army who only wants to go out and fight Kursk-like battles and just dont "get it."

    Perhaps you should have appeared on the Daily Show.

    Great to hear from you and keep up your most important work.

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    That's an interesting perspective sir. I've been following a very good debate on another forum b/n a Marine and a former SF Soldier with regard to Kilcullen's utility, Petraeus as the lead warrior in iraq.

    The debate pretty much centered on the issue that prior to OIF I, he had not served in combat, and his experiences were shaped by his infantry and mechanized command time, not conducting FID.

    What are your views on the argument that the man selected to lead develop COIN doctrine and lead the Iraq effort should have been from a SF background?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    What are your views on the argument that the man selected to lead develop COIN doctrine and lead the Iraq effort should have been from a SF background?
    I would disagree. I absolutely love the SF community and have worked extensively with them over the year but, in my opinion, most of them retain kind of an A team perspective. That is perfect in an El Salvador type sitaution where the U.S. footprint is very small and is primarily focused on small unit advice and support, but less so in an Iraq type situation where we bascially have to rebuild security forces from the ground up at the same time that we ourselves undertake large scale stability operations.

    Phrased differently, SF is the most exquisite tool on earth for certain situations, but they are not the right tool for everything irregular.

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    Default COIN's only a piece

    While I laud progress made in the COIN arena recently, it addresses only a part of the non-MCO mission facing the military and the rest of the interagency in the future. We have to get better at conducting missions even BEFORE insurgencies that need "countering" develop.

    Instead of publishing a COIN manual, the Air Force lumped all the IW missions together in a single manual. If done correctly, that may provide a more holistic approach for the military and the interagency.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    Instead of publishing a COIN manual, the Air Force lumped all the IW missions together in a single manual. If done correctly, that may provide a more holistic approach for the military and the interagency.

    There's an important conceptual distinction here though: 3-24 reflects the idea that counterinsurgency is not simply a form of warfighting. By lumping it with irregular warfare the Air Force took a different approach that--unfortuantely from my perspective--distills it down to destroying targets.

    I saw a full court press from the Air Force on this last week at the Carr Center/Army War College seminar on counterinsurgency in DC. The highlight was a panel that included Maj Gen Dunlap and LTG Chiarelli. While I am not an objective observer, I though Chiarelli eviscerated the Air Force arguments.

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    Eviscerated! Whew... you can talk that talk man. You should run for something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Eviscerated! Whew... you can talk that talk man. You should run for something.

    I'll probably have to run for my life once the Air Force gets my grid coordinates. I guess I'll just have to live in a cave and release the occasional video to al Jazeera. Or Fox.

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    Make sure you take that special COIN Bar-B-Que grill you have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    There's an important conceptual distinction here though: 3-24 reflects the idea that counterinsurgency is not simply a form of warfighting. By lumping it with irregular warfare the Air Force took a different approach that--unfortuantely from my perspective--distills it down to destroying targets.
    I got the same impression when I looked at the AF's IW doctrine. It also looked very rushed. I think they'd benefit from going back and taking a hard look at it and fleshing it out.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Unfortunately, beyond your classroom and the halls of the armor and infantry schools counterinsurgency doctrine has become dominant in our army. It has become so dominant that at higher levels of command it has pushed us toward dogmatism and limits our ability to think creatively. You might also be accused by the high-priests of coin doctrine that you are part of the problem of the still conventionally minded American army who only wants to go out and fight Kursk-like battles and just dont "get it."
    Hmmm, I think it may be important to make a clear distinction between "top of mind" and "dominant". I would certainly agree that COIN has become "top of mind" - that is inevitable given the current operations. But is it "dominant"? I truly doubt that it is. We have seen other periods where COIN was top of mind but, after the operations ceased, it went back into the institutional unconscious (excepting the Marine Corps). Why do you believe that it will be different this time?

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Has counterinsurgency become our primary operational doctrine? In the American Army has FM3-24, "Counterinsurgency" replaced FM3-0 "Operations" in importance and influence? If so we are in deep trouble.
    I don't think the new document is indicative of a fundamental shift but a realization that COIN exists. This isn't going to be a document for the military, but a primer for State. Personally I think there has been a rush to the doors like somebody yelling "FIRE!" only this panic laden scream is "COIN!". Iraq is one field of conflict, multiple types of endeavor, and not something that fits nicely into any doctrinal manual.

    With the Bear flying close contact missions over Europe again how long until the shout is "FULDA GAP!" and we find ourselves without the flexibility to fight or even show up with a conventional military presence. But, we'll able to wind the hearts and minds of indigenous populations. I realize we still have huge presence of unimpeded reserves sitting in close proximity to many places of cold war conflict. The issue is where did those leaders come from, where are they going, who is training them, and what are the expectations of a career?

    COIN is the answer to many problems and describes a box of issues and theories within the Small War doctrine. I think it is one of the most recently ignored strategies and likely doctrinally still immature in the minds of most who don't take the time to investigate it. The intellectual shrift for COIN seems to be part of the culture of state and NGO's. We have 50+ years of doctrine and advancement of maneuver warfare for the likes of Armor and mounted infantry. COIN has been the monster under the bed giving commanders and policy makers fits since Vietnam.
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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Has counterinsurgency become our primary operational doctrine? In the American Army has FM3-24, "Counterinsurgency" replaced FM3-0 "Operations" in imporantance and influence? If so we are in deep trouble.

    To go a bit deeper into this, I think there are those out there that believe FM 3-24 is a stand-alone document. It's not. It's a good accompanyment volume to FM 3-0. It covers the bases that are left open in FM 3-0.

    It's a bit like the relationship that FM 5-0 (Army Planning and Orders Production) has with Fm 6-0 (Mission Command), Fm 1-02 (Operational Terms and Graphics), and FM 34-130 (Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield). Clearly, in this case, the sum of the whole is greater than the independent parts. My planning and orders production process will suffer if I'm not conducting a good IPB.

    I think the relationship between FM 3-24 and FM 3-0 is much the same. Those that understand this operate well. Those who don't chance the dragon.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    ....and FM 34-130 (Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield). Clearly, in this case, the sum of the whole is greater than the independent parts. My planning and orders production process will suffer if I'm not conducting a good IPB....
    Although final approved versions are not published yet, the current drafts of FM 2-01.3 IPB and FMI 2-01.301 Specific TTP and Applications for IPB, are significant improvements over the old FM 34-130.

    And I'm with you 100% on the relationship between doctrinal pubs. There isn't a single one that is truly a stand-alone document.

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    Default in lieu of Stan...

    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    I
    With the Bear flying close contact missions over Europe again how long until the shout is "FULDA GAP!"
    I hope they're shouting "TALLINN!" or they kinda missed that whole unification of Germany/NATO expansion thing

    (Really, Stan ought to be posting this one *lol*)

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    If the American Army had the new FM3-24 and had focused its efforts on training for Coin starting in 2001 would we be in a better situation in Iraq than we are in today? To further this counterfactual, if we had focused our training around Coin at the expense of conventional warfighting would the march to Baghdad in March 2003 have looked the same?

    Of course counterfactual speculation is just that, speculation.

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    Default You're posing the questions....

    but it's also based on the assumption that training is a zero-sum game. Either-or. Personally, I think that's the kind of institutional thinking that led to COIN being neglected in the first place and created the need for something like 3-24 to shake up things. But I do agree with Marc in the observation that its long-term impact has a very good chance of being limited.

    The situation is very similar to what we saw on an institutional level during Vietnam. Training adjusted to prepare soldiers (to a degree, depending on time frame and branch) for what they'd encounter in Vietnam...but once the conflict started spinning down training switched back to conventional warfare. This also happened during the Indian Wars (although training at the most basic level was never re-oriented to prepare soldiers for what they'd encounter on the frontier...even though this was the only war they had; most advanced training took place within the regiment or company) and just about every other conflict we've had. The institution prefers preparing for large-scale conventional warfare, so that's where the reflexive bias lies.

    Will we forget COIN theory again? I certainly hope not. Does that mean the entire Army should focus on COIN? No, but there is no good reason to allow the ideas and practices to slide into the dustbin once we're out of Iraq and Afghanistan (or once the deployments become small enough to be ignored on the larger institutional level).
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    And I'm with you 100% on the relationship between doctrinal pubs. There isn't a single one that is truly a stand-alone document.
    I'd argue that this has always been the case, though it does get blurred in some minds these days.
    "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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