Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
If the strategists have decided upon undertaking a population-centric counterinsurgency and 80% of the population is engaged in agriculture, how could these same strategists even pretend to formulate strategy if they know nothing about agriculture?

But is the implicit question whether or not I think military professionals need to know something about agriculture? I don't see how it would help the young man scanning the Fulda horizon with his field glasses c. 1985; I don't see how it would not help the military governor of an agriculturally rich state then, now, or ever.

And my semi-informed opinion is that with COIN 2.0 the United States Military asks far too much of itself.
May I offer another perspective on all this.

The assumption that COIN has to be either enemy- or population- centric is an error IMHO.

An analysis of each specific insurgency should lead to a unique course of action being adopted as COIN policy.

Not every grievance cited as contributing to the insurgency can be addressed. If for example the true motivation behind the insurgency is more ideological than economic, more religious than the pursuit of human freedoms or more ethnic than a demand for democracy then a 'political settlement' will be unlikely.

Certainly the current US approach to COIN being what can be called 'cheque-book COIN' where money is thrown around to buy off the opposition and buy support from those caught in the middle is quite ridiculous and destined to fail.

Ken's (good) point about the use of foreign troops to support the 'state' is valid. And of course the US know that the longer the troops stay in the country the more the locals see them as occupiers and want them to go (this also happened to the Cubans in Angola).

It is well worth having another look at Wilf's paper 'Killing your way to Control'

If we accept that at the highest level 80% of the COIN policy is political the 20% comprising the military action will often prove to be critical in determining the outcome of the insurgency.

It should be obvious that the armed 'wing' of the insurgency must be confronted with armed force. The armed insurrection must be suppressed or at least contained to to allow the political process to run its course. If the armed insurrection is not suppressed then it is not possible to negotiate from a position of strength (as is the case in Afghanistan).

Wilf writes:

The population will obey whoever exercises the power of law over them. Power creates support.
IMHO I would use the word 'submission' rather than support.

The people need to submit to the rule of law. The people need to submit to peaceful negotiations (whether a minority gets what it wants or not). etc etc

Those who resort to violence must be met with kind.

...So I would not spend a cent on agriculture in Afghanistan... in fact the next trick should be to destroy their irrigation system if they use continue to use them to cultivate poppies. Just give them the Gypsy's warning on that... and if they don't listen... then let the Engineers have a little fun with demolitions.