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Thread: The Counterinsurgency Cliff Notes

  1. #1
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    Default The Counterinsurgency Cliff Notes

    Gentlemen,
    I scratched out this paper and I would like to receive your feedback. There are many great COIN papers already in existence, but I couldn't find anything that you could actually get every man in a conventional infantry platoon to read (down to the privates). So that is what this paper is targeted at- it's short and to the point. It doesn't really lay out COIN strategy, but talks about the platoon-level tactics and techniques required to implement a COIN strategy. It is also not the ideal, perfect answer; but rather is something that you could expect out of any run-of-the-mill platoon. It attempts to bridge the gap bewtween strategy and platoon-level implementation.
    The organization is still rough and I would appreciate comments on how to better seperate the COIN techniques from the counter-guerilla techniques and still have a good paper. Or should I just get rid of the non-COIN-specific stuff? Thanks. All comments are appreciated.
    CPT C
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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cpt C View Post
    Gentlemen,
    I scratched out this paper and I would like to receive your feedback. There are many great COIN papers already in existence, but I couldn't find anything that you could actually get every man in a conventional infantry platoon to read (down to the privates). So that is what this paper is targeted at- it's short and to the point. It doesn't really lay out COIN strategy, but talks about the platoon-level tactics and techniques required to implement a COIN strategy. It is also not the ideal, perfect answer; but rather is something that you could expect out of any run-of-the-mill platoon. It attempts to bridge the gap bewtween strategy and platoon-level implementation.
    The organization is still rough and I would appreciate comments on how to better seperate the COIN techniques from the counter-guerilla techniques and still have a good paper. Or should I just get rid of the non-COIN-specific stuff? Thanks. All comments are appreciated.
    CPT C
    All,

    CPT C's here after I saw a draft of the paper. He's looking for some feedback on it from the community.

    CPT C, don't forget to post an intro here. Welcome aboard!
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Good start

    The draft paper reads well, although too many words are abbreviated, notably intelligence becomes intell. Needs clearer sections and sub-titles. Perhaps a few references and links. Then I'd let a few prospective readers at it, soldiers in a platoon. A very short keypoints summary, suitable for a pocket sized memo card (UK Army shoot don't shoot card).

    From a police officers comfortable armchair.

    davidbfpo

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default Concur

    I liked the looks of this as well. Makes some good points without wasting space or getting too far into depth that would be out of place in a document like this. The abbreviations didn't bother me, but I do agree with David that it would benefit from clear section breaks and similar devices. References or "for further reading" sections might be good, but added on at the end (or as an annex/appendix) that wouldn't bog down the main document.
    "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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    Great paper, I hope you continue developing it and using it.

    I'd make a few suggestions, not based on modern experience. I apologise for being picky.

    1. Introduction:

    The heart of COIN is in the basic principles and the mindset, and an open-minded Lieutenant and a few good NCO’s can have an incredible impact on their Area of Operations (AO).
    True, but why stop at good NCO's? Your most junior acting lance blank file trooper is quite capable of undoing all your good work very quickly. He (she?) needs to understand exactly same the things your NCO's do and be able to walk the talk.


    2. Sir, I applaud your use of the concept "Boots on the ground"

    3. "Never go out the same way you came in." I think you might mean the reverse, but I get your drift. I also wouldn't know if you are using deception plans in Iraq, but if people aren't, I would commend the concept, which is worth a whole unpublishable paper of it's own. I think that being expected to be going somewhere and turning up somewhere completely different might be an even greater surprise in this cell phone ridden world than it was forty years ago.

    4.
    Killing the enemy during a fire-fight is great, but catching him in your covert ambush before he even knows you are there is so much more satisfying (and safe!). This requires getting inside the enemy’s planning cycle and knowing his next move before he makes it
    Once again I applaud you. I have yet to hear of any successful ambushes in Iraq, but I hope there are many. They have a devastating effect on the enemy's morale, especially if combined with #3.

    5. Although it is not related to your paper, I wish it was possible for the Theatre Commander to order all troops to take off their sunglasses before they talk to an Iraqi. 90% of communication is non verbal and the eyes always speak volumes.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by walrus; 03-31-2008 at 08:51 PM.

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    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default CPT C - A paper for your consideration

    Here is something I wrote many years ago.
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    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Registered User Jason Pape's Avatar
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    Default More thoughts on how to explain COIN...

    CPT C -

    I've experienced the same frustration talking to some of my peers about how to approach COIN / Phase IV at the battalion and brigade level. Either because they haven't seen it done, or because the approach they observed didn't work in their AO when they were there, they are convinced this stuff "just doesn't work." So I started brainstorming on different approaches units can take...not as a list of "best practices" but more of a menu for "how we might conduct business in our AO, given the current conditions, taking into account a multitude of considerations."

    This is a working draft...I need to make it more objective. I do not intend for it to lean in one direction or the other, but I obviously show my bias as it is now. There are reasons to go either way, given one's context.

    All feedback is welcome. Please let me know if this is a useful tool for discussion.
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    Jason M. Pape

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Pape View Post
    CPT C -

    I've experienced the same frustration talking to some of my peers about how to approach COIN / Phase IV at the battalion and brigade level. Either because they haven't seen it done, or because the approach they observed didn't work in their AO when they were there, they are convinced this stuff "just doesn't work." So I started brainstorming on different approaches units can take...not as a list of "best practices" but more of a menu for "how we might conduct business in our AO, given the current conditions, taking into account a multitude of considerations."

    This is a working draft...I need to make it more objective. I do not intend for it to lean in one direction or the other, but I obviously show my bias as it is now. There are reasons to go either way, given one's context.

    All feedback is welcome. Please let me know if this is a useful tool for discussion.
    Jason,

    Let me digest this one. I already have some thoughts from first read, but need to think on it. Glad to see you show up from companycommand.

    Be sure to post in the intro thread.

    Niel
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Cpt C,

    I have not put on a military uniform, but I have spent some time in Iraq and other places in an international development capacity. From a capacity building and development perspective, there are a whole range of actors (contractors) out there doing various projects that all (sometimes loosely coordinated) attempt to improve the infrastructure, services or socio-economic environment. Related to Kilkullen's 4th point about organizing for inter-agency operations and 23rd point about practicing armed civil affairs, I would like to see more attention focused on learning who the other actors on your side and in the civil society are and coordinating with their efforts. These people often have an intimate knowledge of the communities they work in, their needs and are working to address them. They're not necessarily reaching out, so it's even more reason to extend to them. There are a lot of independent and ad-hoc examples of this and I've seen it work well, but it's not always systematic and therefore, opportunities are missed and efforts sometimes overlap and/or conflict with each other.

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    Default Nesting the Effort

    Great and insightful COIN TTPs. You may consider a section addressing how the platoon's actions link with the company and battalion effort; basically some basic insights from one platoon leader to another.

    Because battalions and below engage the local community, the ultimate objective is to have the local police assume the security burden. Some manpower (a four-man cadre at the police station) can be devoted to developing the police not only with basic military skills, but also instilling a sense of discipline and values. Most cultures have a basis of values, mostly engendered by the Ten Commandments, so the local police need to be reminded of their importance to the authorities.

    The cadres can identify those individuals with leadership potential to attend formal training at the Regional Training Center in order to assume leadership positions upon return. Selecting the next generation of leaders is a subtle process because the local power brokers (police chiefs, mayors, etc.) rely on patronage to secure their position. So, the cadre leader or higher leader has to find ways to have them buy off on selected personell without arousing suspicion.

    Because the goal of both the insurgents and counterinsurgents is to gain control of the population, the counterinsurgents must exercise appropriate measures to gain the upper hand. Curfews, census taking, police foot patrols, daily interaction with the people are the initial step. The police should establish a neighborhood watch, cultivate informants, and provide a means for people to report suspicious activites. Trinquier's gridding technique is an excellent way for organizing a neighborhood watch program. In this manner, the authorities can identify recent arrivals of new people into the community and investigate them. In the end, we want the populace to look to their police for security issues rather than the coalition.

    Platoon leaders and company commanders can meet with the local authorities to discuss the one project the community needs. Don't ask them what they want because this will result in a litany of deficiencies that will far exceed the capabilities of the coalition. I call this the "one project at a time" approach. The next step, and most difficult, is finding an agency (NGO, UNAM, etc.) which will agree to the project. To make a lasting impact, the agency should provide the skills training, equipment, materials and salaries, while the local populace provides labor. In this manner, the people gain skill sets and pride in ownership. If insurgents destroy the project, they alienate the population automatically. It is also useful to bring in agencies to provide workshops on skills training (e.g., basic electrical, plumbing, mechanical maintenance, carpentry, etc.). In this manner, a local economy is created at minimum cost and the community experiences the benefits of the government. Creating prosperity from below is much better than attempting to create economic development from the national level and hoping it trickles down.

    These are just a few thoughts helping the succession of platoon leaders see how their actions contribute to the higher COIN effort and provide continuity of effort from one rotation after another.

    Cheers,
    Ray Millen

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default Yes!

    No problem, simply plan it as if you were conducting a raid. Have a planned infil and exfil route. Have an overwatch position. Have the big guns on your vehicles lock down the high-speed avenues of approach. And have a time limit. At that point you have pretty much done everything you can at the platoon level to secure yourself. You now have some relative freedom to have a squad with the PL and interpreter walk into the market and gain some intel and build rapport with the locals. Use your interpreter while a few soldiers buy cigarettes and Pepsi. To the locals it just looks like you parked your vehicles and jumped out to talk, but you have the whole street locked down. The same actions should be taken when searching a house, stopping by the police station, or enjoying a cup of chai with the local sheik.
    I have to congratulate the author on this. This is excellent abstracted tactical doctrine or "patrol based thinking." It's a raid! - or - It's an ambush! It's all very, very simple. Balance security against the activity, and match the process to the desired outcome. Good stuff!
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I agree

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I have to congratulate the author on this. This is excellent abstracted tactical doctrine or "patrol based thinking." It's a raid! - or - It's an ambush! It's all very, very simple. Balance security against the activity, and match the process to the desired outcome. Good stuff!
    However, I'd suggest that it is also an application of plain old common sense and basic tactical thinking -- in other words, what you highlight that he's suggesting is basic -- and we Americans do not do the basics well because we have to learn on the job after the war starts and as we go instead of being trained in them upon entry.

    That technique should be so ingrained that it would not merit mention. Lick on us that it does merit saying...

    Good for him for saying it.

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    Default

    One really nice point hat I would like to see extended is
    . Get together once a week and have an informal discussion on what you read. The goal is to come together on a Company COIN strategy.
    While it was meant for a pre-deployment setting, I would try and keep it going after deployment. Basically, it would shift from a strategy planning event to a strategy monitoring event - a "sense-making" activity as it were. I'm not sure how feasible this would be, but I would strongly suggest that such a weekly group (or groups) contain a cross-section from all ranks.

    Nice paper .
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That too applies

    to my comment above -- hopefully, everyone knows to do this without any training...

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    but that is not reality. thus, the existence of this paper...

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I'm more than aware it's not reality -- and I've been railing

    about that failure for over 50 years to anyone who would listen and a lot who didn't want to listen -- and I've been doing so on this board for a year.

    It is pathetic that we do not teach the basics to new entrants, officer and enlisted -- it is even more pathetic that five years after we went into Iraq the Army still isn't teaching the basics. Isn't pathetic, it's criminal.

    The paper is a good effort -- regrettably, it doesn't address the broader problem which is way above both our pay grades.

    Pardon the venom but you hit a long standing sore spot. I've seen way too many bodies caused by massive stupidity in high places and failure to properly train people when they enter is a pet rock of mine. You also obviously missed my comment above that the fact we do not train well is a lick on us...

    If you're talking about having Platoon get togethers fairly frequently to just talk about what's going on -- that shouldn't need to be trained...
    Last edited by Ken White; 04-01-2008 at 09:08 PM. Reason: Typos

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Catching up...

    ... on the Council. Thanks for posting your COIN Cliff Notes CPT C. Downloaded for a read today. I'd be interested in publishing the final version on the Small Wars Journal.

    Welcome aboard!

    Dave
    Last edited by SWJED; 04-02-2008 at 08:26 AM.

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    Default Thanks

    I just want to say thanks to all of the feedback so far- good and bad. You guys are helping me put together a decent product. Please keep the comments coming.
    Craig

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default After my rant yesterday, let me join Dave and say

    Welcome Aboard.

    I'll also reiterate Cav Guy's suggestion that you go to the "Tell us about you #2" last page (LINK) and join the crowd. Can't tell the players without a program...

  20. #20
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Default Good to see people writing things down.

    CPT C,

    I think it is good thing when people think enough about things, and feel passionate enough about it, to get up and do something about it.

    Whilst not intending to be negative towards the industry and application you have displayed, I am not sure that a lot of the material you detail is not just 'sound' small unit TTP rather than specifically 'COIN' material. ( I guess this is similar to the view offered earlier by Ken).

    Whilst there is a need for such material, I am relatively confident that most of it must be being taught somewhere, as it is currently practised in theatre. The US infantry units I have spent time with all appear to practise this stuff to varying degrees. Some of them are very, very good at it.

    I know for a fact that material much like this has been 'rote' in the Australian Army since before Vietnam -it was taught for many years from the 1960s at the Battle Wing in Canungra.

    Are you aware that the COIN CFE had / has a COIN Handbook for junior leaders that was given out for a few years?

    It was put together by an Aussie SF SNCO and a few US Navy Seals with some supervision at the end by an Officer on staff who had been involved in FM 3-24. It even evolved into a second edition. Whilst not 'perfect' it was more than adequate, and I beleive in parts quite good considering the speed in which it was drafted and created in theatre.

    If you PM me and provide a .mil address I will see if I can find a .pdf or other form of e-copy to send to you.

    Issue of the handbook was suspended in late 07 in anticipation of a replacement item being issued in CONUS. (It did take a fair bit of effort to keep it current and publish it - the CFE is not assigned personnel or resourced for a doctrine writing task).

    I recently became aware that the issue of an handbook in CONUS still has not occurred (Cav Guy might know more about when this will actually happen).

    Cheers,

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 04-02-2008 at 08:25 PM. Reason: syntax

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