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Thread: The Col. Gentile collection and debate

  1. #241
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    How then is the narrative of American isolationism reconciled with the country's history of expansionism?
    As Selil mentioned, it has much more to do with a geographic focus. Kagan seems inclined to confuse rhetoric with action, and in most cases the public as a whole was opposed to expansion outside what was defined in their minds as our geographic sphere. The war with Mexico was opposed by a significant segment of the population (mainly what was then called the Old Northeast) on both economic and moral grounds, as was perceived imperialism in the Philippines and other locations. We meddled in other locations from time to time, but we very seldom stayed (as opposed to the European experience). It's important when looking at this stuff to draw a clear line between the rantings in newspapers of the period and the actual opinions of the populace (when they can be determined) and actions of policy-makers. Many of our foreign "adventures" were triggered by a perception that a European power might be trying to establish a foothold close by.
    "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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  2. #242
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    Anybody else find irony in the fact that "antiwar.com" is defending MCO?
    I also found that funny-ironic that AntiWar.com was wading into that side the pool, along with the perception that the Army is marching together under a "Somos COINdinistas" banner with COL Gentile as the lone, John the Baptist-esque voice in the wilderness.

    Am I missing something or just confused about the part of the argument charging that COIN proponents want to go around the world nation-building, a la Thomas PM Barnett's expeditionary "leviathan"? Isn't the basic argument of Drs. Nagl/Kilcullen that doing so isn't the business we should want to be in, but that since we're in a COIN fight on two fronts we should focus on getting it right? I don't think I've read anything by either of those men saying otherwise, but I'm interested to know if there is something out there along those line that I hadn't seen or heard.

  3. #243
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Actually the US is more accurately conducting "Post-regime change FID" on two fronts. My term, but it seems pretty accurate. (COIN is something that a Nation's government does to deal with its own internal insurgency.)

    To add to our confusion, many think not only that we are doing COIN, but also that the recipe for COIN is one part "Defeat the Insurgent," one part "Defeat the Ideology," and two parts "Create Effective Democratic Governance."

    Since we are not the cooks in this kitchen, but merely advising and assisting, we should at least start by making sure we have the right recipe:

    One part "understand the populace and what the issues are (real or perceived) that makes them susceptible to ideological inspiration (tailored for taste across the nation),"

    one part "help fix that part of the government that is failing to adequately address those particular issues, ensuring that the populace is allowed full self-determination, with the only caveat being that whatever system is adopted must provide that same populace with the absolute certainty that it has legitimate recourse to address any such failures in the future short of violent insurgency"

    one part "ensure your own narrative for your involvement not only matches your principles and your actions, but also facilitates avoiding as much as possible the perception that you are now the source of legitimacy of this failed government, but are instead an ally of the populace representing them first, over whomever happens to be in office,"

    and one part "help create a secure environment, with emphasis on host nation security capacity enabled as necessary."

    Once we get out of the mode we are in and adopt a “smarter” application of power, we will probably find that we no longer need to convert the entire force to the conduct of such operations, or to create an equivalent civilian corps for the same. A small force can enable a large one if it is applying the right recipe and knows what its doing; and there are plenty of civilians looking for work right there at ground zero. No need to import many of ours.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  4. #244
    Registered User mikekuhn's Avatar
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  5. #245
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Good post, Bob

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Actually the US is more accurately conducting "Post-regime change FID" on two fronts. My term, but it seems pretty accurate. (COIN is something that a Nation's government does to deal with its own internal insurgency.)
    . . .
    Once we get out of the mode we are in and adopt a “smarter” application of power, we will probably find that we no longer need to convert the entire force to the conduct of such operations, or to create an equivalent civilian corps for the same. A small force can enable a large one if it is applying the right recipe and knows what its doing; and there are plenty of civilians looking for work right there at ground zero. No need to import many of ours.
    Smack on the target...

  6. #246
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Thank you

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Actually the US is more accurately conducting "Post-regime change FID" on two fronts. My term, but it seems pretty accurate. (COIN is something that a Nation's government does to deal with its own internal insurgency.)
    The only COIN the USG does is internal anti-gang,terrorism, etc...

    I've been banging my head against the wall trying to consider why we don't consider this fact. We can assist other governments (SFA, FID, IW); We can force regime change (UW, HIC), but what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is occupation.

    I simply don't understand why that is hard to grasp. Occupation is neither good nor bad. It is just a word. What we must determine in our grand strategy is if we want to be an empire or not. That, IMHO is the elephant in the room that no one talks about.

    v/r

    Mike

  7. #247
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    What we must determine in our grand strategy is if we want to be an empire or not.
    Given the insatiable desires of any large body of people, I think it's more a matter of aligning strategy to the necessity of imperialism, in whatever modern form it might take.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  8. #248
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I think America has demonstrated quite well that one can develop a tremendous global economy without placing a yoke of colonialism on anyone's shoulders.

    At the same time though, those very populaces are quite familar with that yoke, so when we do change our approach and begin conducting "justified" occupations, you have to expect the occupied populaces to look at that event just a teeeny bit differently than we do. Tricky business that.

    But as I like to say: "While it may be right to do the wrong thing, it is never wrong to do the right thing."

    Time to swallow the ego and start doing the right thing. We fear that we will be accused of cutting and running. There is a big difference between running away from a situation because you are scared, and backing out of a situation that you never belonged in in the first place. Particularly if you are committed to ensuring that you don't just let it collapse into chaos behind you. This isn't just on GWOT issues, actually it is primarily on Cold War issues. Time to balance the books and get back in synch with our national principles. We'll actually gain far more credibilty in that process than we will lose.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  9. #249
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    The United States Navy has been involved in substantial missions to our southern neighbors with the primary goal being medical care to communities that have none or very little. The mission "Operation Comfort" is a very soft power mission, from what the LACC communities have said it is very successful. The same ships that have medical facilities are escorted by ships that could topple regimes in seconds.
    Providing medical care is not building or re-building. This activity as part of diplomacy makes sense and always has. - but it should not be part of operations or an element of your combat and security strategy. "Soft Power" is for use against those who support you or want to. Soft Power is an instrument of diplomacy.

    If it wasn't for the cold war Israel would never have gotten the support it got, same for the Shah of Iran, Norriega, and any of dozens of other regimes.
    If you want to throw in every member of NATO, as well, I'd absolutely agree with you.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  10. #250
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    Default Ten Whats With… Col. Gian Gentile

    Ten Whats With… Col. Gian Gentile

    Entry Excerpt:

    Ten Whats With… Col. Gian Gentile by Micah Zenko, Council on Foreign Relations. On COIN and IW: "I think with the current fad and fetish of counterinsurgency, irregular wars, often times caricatured as “wars amongst the people” fought to win the allegiance of local populations and to suppress so called “irregular threats,” we may be losing the bubble on the fact that states still exist, and potentially in the future we may one day have to face a hostile state again."



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  11. #251
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Review of Col. Gentile's latest book

    Hat tip to War on the Rocks, where Crispin Burke reviews Gian Gentile's latest book, Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency with some pithy comments and some good marks:http://warontherocks.com/2013/08/the...terinsurgency/

    Link to Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/Wrong-Turn-Ame.../dp/1595588744

    In case you wonder why this post is on an old thread, read on.

    Moderator's Note

    Being an outsider to the protracted debate in the USA over COIN I am familiar with some of the names and prompted by a new book review of Colonel Gian Gentile's latest book, I have merged six threads today. On a quick review some were single posts and others longer discussions here. This thread was called 'Eating Soup with a Spoon' and is now 'The Col. Gentile collection and debate'. Somehow I suspect there are other threads as 'Gentile' appears in 162 threads, but for now this is enough.(ends).
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-08-2013 at 03:32 PM. Reason: Add Mod's Note
    davidbfpo

  12. #252
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Another debate on SWJ Blog

    I missed that on SWJ Blog there is an discussion going on about Col. Gentile's views, based on a shorter e-article 'Counterinsurgency: The Graduate Level of War or Pure Hokum?' and includes reviews of the book itself:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/cou...-or-pure-hokum

    Since Col. Gentile often refers to British COIN, here is a contrary viewpoint by a British academic from 2012:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...that-never-was
    davidbfpo

  13. #253
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    Default The Savior generals hypthesis

    Crispin Burke generally critiques Gian Gentile's new book very well but he appears to accept Gentile's critique of the myth of the savior generals without serious question. A careful reading of Woodward's The War Within, Linda Robinson's Tell Me How this Ends. and Tom Ricks' The Gamble paints a far more complex picture than Gentile presents or than Victor Davis Hanson articulates in his book of that name (and elsewhere). Indeed, John Nagl in his chapter called "The Emprire Strikes Back" begins it with the quote of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery where he says that first Malaya needs a plan, then a man. In the previous chapter, John goes into detail on the Briggs plan which was adopted by Templer (the man).

    I tend to lean part way toward the "savior general" hypothesis but as I noted above it is much more complex. Who is in charge does make a difference. But also the question is: in charge of what. It certainly made a difference that Lincoln was president and not Buchanan or Stephen Douglas. Leadership is about both choices and the intangibles that make one want to follow the leader. Weber called it charisma. Gentile argues that Abrams approach showed operational and tactical continuity with Westmoreland. But Nixon's strategy marks a real change from LBJ's and Abrams was the man who carried it out. That said, it was a significant change of leadership from Westy to Abrams both in style and substance. Abrams imposed a unity of command and sense of purpose that did not exist under Westy. (I served under Westmoreland in the Pentagon when he was CSA. My shop produced the daily current intel brief for the SECARMY, CSA, VCSA, and the rest of the senior DA staff. The Secretary and the Vice (GEN Bruce Palmer), and every other recipient read the book in the presence of the courier/analyst except for Westy who had his WO receive it and called for it to be picked up at the end of the day. The only thing Westy seemed interested in was that officers' haircuts met the regulation!)

    While GEN Abizaid and Casey followed the conventions of COIN they both analyzed the problem in Iraq as too large a US footprint. Those who designed the surge - and Petraeus was only one of a fair sized group - made a different analysis. More important was that Petraeus and his State counterpart, Amb Crocker recognized the ambiguous structure of authority for US actions in Iraq and THEY determined not only that they would always speak with one voice but how they would go about making sure that this happened. It was their solution to the problem that the Brits solved in Malaya by making Templer "supremo." It is interesting that Crocker's successor in Iraq, Amb Chris Hill, refused such a relationship with Pretraeus's successor, Odierno.

    Another point, returning to the trio of books I mentioned at the beginning of this post, is that Woodward focuses on the leadership of Steve Hadley (NSA), retired GEN Jack Keane, Fred Kagan, and of course Pres Bush while Robinson focuses on Petraeus and Crocker, and Ricks on Odierno. So, there is no single savior general but rather a number of key leaders exercising effective leadership. Contrast this with the story Woodward tells in Obama's Wars.

    People matter.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  14. #254
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    Default COL Gian Gentile Twofer

    COL Gian Gentile Twofer

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