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Thread: Going to War With the Allies You Have

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Largo, Florida

    Default Going to War With the Allies You Have

    Going to War With the Allies You Have: Allies, Counterinsurgency, and the War on Terrorism by Dr Daniel Byman. US Army Strategic Studies Institute monograph, November 2005.

    Potential U.S. allies in counterinsurgencies linked to al-Qa’ida frequently suffer from four categories of structural problems: illegitimate (and often repressive) regimes; civil-military tension manifested by fears of a coup; economic backwardness; and discriminatory societies. Because of these problems, allies often stray far from the counterinsurgency (COIN) ideal, both militarily and politically. Their security service culture often is characterized by poor intelligence; a lack of initiative; little integration of forces across units; soldiers who do not want to fight; bad leadership; and problems with training, learning, and creativity. In addition, the structural weaknesses have a direct political effect that can aid an insurgency by hindering the development and implementation of a national strategy, fostering poor relations with outside powers that might otherwise assist the COIN effort (such as the United States), encouraging widespread corruption, alienating the security forces from the overall population, and offering the insurgents opportunities to penetrate the security forces.

    Washington must recognize that its allies, including those in the security forces, are often the source of counterinsurgency problems as well as the heart of any solution. The author argues that the ally’s structural problems and distinct interests have daunting implications for successful U.S. counterinsurgency efforts. The nature of regimes and of societies feeds an insurgency, but the United States is often hostage to its narrow goals with regard to counterinsurgency and thus becomes complicit in the host-nation’s self-defeating behavior. Unfortunately, U.S. influence often is limited as the allies recognize that America’s vital interests with regard to fighting al-Qa’ida-linked groups are likely to outweigh any temporary disgust or anger at an ally’s brutality or failure to institute reforms. Training, military-to-military contacts, education programs, and other efforts to shape their COIN capabilities are beneficial, but the effects are likely to be limited at best...

  2. #2
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    DeRidder LA

    Default Applies to Africa

    I did a quick scan read of this monograph and found it well worth the effort for a more detailed examination. At first blush, it certainly mirrored my own studies and experiences in Africa. In Sudan (1984) as a FAO trainee I spent 4 months as a student in the Sudanese Staff College. The war down south was again heating up and we had a handful of southern officers in our class. The tension between them and the northern Arab students was palpable; the latter made it worse when in studying COIN as taught by the Brits, the Arabs clearly advocated ethnic cleansing. US efforts to stear the Sudanese away from resuming open warfare and professionalizing their military also failed. We "sold" them a company of 10 M60A3 tanks and they wanted to open up all the spare parts boxes and power packs literally on the desert. We also sold them 3 or 4 F-5s including one 2-seat trainer; all were smoking holes within a year as they immediately tried to use them as they arrived.

    But the classic bottomless pit of military assistance was the Forces Armees Zairoise (FAZ) or Farce Armees Zairoise as I called them. Belgium, France, Germany, Israel, Egypt, the ROK, the PRC, and the US spent untold billions of dollars trying to make an effective army out of the FAZ. We all failed. Miserably. I can safely say that the FAZ never won a fight against anyone who could fire back unless they--the FAZ--were reinforced by non-Congolese. They were disastrous as a COIN element; left uncontrolled they could convert whole regions to anti-government forces. We sponsored them on a peacekeeping mission in Chad where they devoted themselves to smuggling back goodies on US airframes. We 'advised" them in the abortive 1975 invasion of Angola; they beat feet back to the Congo as soon as the Cuban 122s found the range. And with French encouragement, the former government of Rwanda asked them to help fight the RPF after the 1990 invasion. The FAZ immediately started raping and pillaging the locals, leading the Rwandans to ask them to leave.

    Folks say you should dance with the one that brought you. That metaphor somewhat applies to the issues surfaced in this study. You cannot always pick your ally; often circumstances do it for you, as was the case of the West and the Soviets in WWII. Other times, however, you have to be prepared to see what exactly you are getting into, something many US policy makers and operators failed to do in the Congo. The same parameters apply to countries involved in GWOT. Minimally, you must know with whom you are dancing.



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