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Thread: COIN Counterinsurgency (merged thread)

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Well yes, this is imprecise language, but for me, "break" means get the other side to halt armed action. - the the politics kicks in. Political outcomes are the only outcomes that count. That has always been the way.

    Generally, and never absolutely, the quickest and most assured way of breaking any ones will to persist in armed action is to kill folks. Generally speaking, it is a factions tolerance to casualties that defines their will to persist in combat. The reasons for that tolerance are many and varied and may change over time.
    Perhaps Fuchs means "to crush the spirit" rather than merely "to break the will" to continue. Its a question of degree.

    There are some that would need to be crushed in order to be beaten while others will fold under a less absolute pressure. As a soldier I believe you can't beat your enemy enough. Its a bit like a pub fight. You don't hit a man then wait to see if he gets up, you keep hitting him until you are sure he can't get up again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    What are you proposing here:

    What is the outline for the "irregular forces" and their ROEs ? Another of my oddball interests.

    Regards

    Mike
    Just to get some context I would refresh myself by saying that the reason for the military effort in Afghanistan is to prevent it being used (again) as a springboard for aggressive (terrorist) action against the west. A secondary aim would be to destroy the heroin industry while there.

    Funny how things change. We now seem to want to make a western style democracy out of Afghanistan and the aim seems more to build schools for Afghan girls than to defeat the Taliban or destroy the poppy production. Absolute madness.

    The first principle of war I learned was "Selection and maintenance of the aim".

    How do we achieve the original aims?

    In 2001 it took two months to dislodge the Taliban government with the help of the Northern Alliance.

    The aim must surely be maintained. No springboard for terror and no production of heroin.

    Now that is a lot more simple than we are making of it now (when did schools for girls get added to the list?).

    We just need to let the current (and any future) regime know that like in 2001 it took just two months to unseat the government in a relatively simple low risk bombing campaign. The Afghan tribal culture is so basic that with a brief case full of dollars any tribal chief will switch sides in an instant (probably sell his own mother too). Can't be trusted.

    So in the meantime we need forces on the ground to defeat the Taliban insurgency.

    Large scale ops by the US seem to have some albeit temporary effect. Bit like putting your hand into a bucket of water, when you withdraw it, all returns to how it was.

    So there is a void that needs to be filled once ISAF forces move on. Who will that be? Afghan army? That's a joke right?

    So we need a "third force" to fill the gap... and of course this force would have no rules of engagement (or at least nothing lijke those of ISAF).

    Mike if we are on the same page we can pursue this line of thinking.
    Last edited by JMA; 05-29-2010 at 11:12 AM.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    So we need a "third force" to fill the gap... and of course this force would have no rules of engagement (or at least nothing lijke those of ISAF).
    You'll need to explain that because ROE are almost always a military requirement, to ensure that violence is applied in line with policy.
    Good ROE make violence more useful, not less.
    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.
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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Perhaps Fuchs means "to crush the spirit" rather than merely "to break the will" to continue. Its a question of degree.
    To "break the will" sounds too total.
    Sometimes it's enough to just make him think that he won't reach his maximum goal without unacceptable costs. That could be the foundation for a peace agreement without any "total" or "decisive" outcome.

    In fact, it's not even necessary to "break the will" such as to make him no more seek additional territory or power. It may be enough to merely let him postpone his ambitions.

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    Default You'll have to clarify ....

    this:

    from JMA
    So we need a "third force" to fill the gap... and of course this force would have no rules of engagement (or at least nothing lijke those of ISAF).

    Mike if we are on the same page we can pursue this line of thinking.
    We have discussed use of irregular forces and various pseudo-ops, primarily in the legal and ROE area - Is it time for psuedo operations in A-Stan?... (typo in the thread title).

    You might want to glance through that thread and see what "same pages" exist. If you are talking about using "warlord armies" (i.e., as some of the Northern Alliance groups were used by our special ops folks in 2001-2002 to wage unconventional warfare in its true sense), similar concepts apply.

    Fascinating area, really, since you can dream up your own mythological forces and ROEs (getting around the fact that real ROEs are classified, and special ops ROEs even more so).

    The "pseudo-ops" thread would seem a more specific place to discuss use of irregular forces in unconventional warfare.

    Cheers

    Mike

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    Default Killing -v- not killing

    In an earlier post Wilf stated:
    It is about breaking will and killing does that better than anything else.
    From my armchair betrayal (one word for a host) and a reduction in public support are far better. In the Northern Ireland context (not strictly COIN), but pretty intensive 'small war' this was a general factor and Toby Harbenden writes on the closing phase in South Armagh very well.

    Obtaining betrayal and declining public support is a bigger issue - which has been touched upon in a variety of threads.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    What level are you talking about?
    I was talking about the level at which the initial decision to participate is made... but if you were arriving in a village planning to "do COIN", those same three levels of understanding would be an excellent place to start.

    Wilf says this...

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    No secret where I stand. Focus on destroying the enemy, so that they have to resort to non-violent resolutions.
    ...but in many cases those who insurge have no access to non-violent resolutions. There's always the possibility that they are insurging precisely because they don't have access to non-violent resolutions. In that case finding and using a non-violent resolution may remove the incentive to insurge with much less trouble than might be involved in finding and killing.

    I sometimes get the feeling (yes, oversimplified) that Wilf sees all insurgents as by definition bad guys who need to be killed, and Col, Jones sees all insurgents as by definition basically good guys with legitimate grievances that need to be addressed. Either assumption may be valid, neither is necessarily valid, reality often lies somewhere in between. That's why it's so important, on both the policy level and the local level, to know what's really going on with your enemies, your allies, and yourself.

    An illustrative case...

    In the 1980s the area just north and east of where I'm sitting was the scene of an ugly little war. The war started with a Philippine Gov't/World Bank plan to dam the Chico river, which would have necessitated the removal of several dozen tribal villages. The villagers declined to be removed. Initial resistance was non-violent. The Government declined to be persuaded. Violence ensued, and escalated. Lots of people were killed. The killing did not break will or spirit, partly because the indigenous people in question were a warrior culture with a deeply implanted revenge ethic, partly because the villagers saw the conflict as existential: when submission means extinction, tolerance for casualties rises. At the end of the day the Philippine Army got a pretty good spanking. The insurgency was resolved when the World Bank withdrew funding and the dam project was abandoned... there was no longer any reason to fight, so the villagers stopped fighting.

    Sometimes giving 'em what they want is an easier resolution than killing them.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Obtaining betrayal and declining public support is a bigger issue - which has been touched upon in a variety of threads.
    Concur. This was the case under "police primacy." The Army provided an environment in which the Police arrested and imprisoned terrorists. The reason Police primacy could work was that the Army suppressed any level of IRA military action - mainly by the use of Special Forces.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    ...but in many cases those who insurge have no access to non-violent resolutions. There's always the possibility that they are insurging precisely because they don't have access to non-violent resolutions. In that case finding and using a non-violent resolution may remove the incentive to insurge with much less trouble than might be involved in finding and killing.
    ....and what's the policy? You may well be right, but the policy is what will drive the answer. If the Rebels want something you see as legitimate, how come they had to rebel?
    I sometimes get the feeling (yes, oversimplified) that Wilf sees all insurgents as by definition bad guys who need to be killed, and Col, Jones sees all insurgents as by definition basically good guys with legitimate grievances that need to be addressed.
    I would only add that I do not place any ethical dimension onto the issue. I am purely concerned with policy. No one ever advance a policy they see as "un-ethical." There is simply no good or bad guys where I stand. I just see violence as instrumental.
    Sometimes giving 'em what they want is an easier resolution than killing them.
    ....and the policy is? If your policy allows for that then OK. It did not need setting forth by violence.
    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    ....and what's the policy?
    The policy is what has to be developed, and if the enterprise is to have any significant chance of success it has to be on accurate assessment of conditions, motivations, and capacities of all the players in the picture.

    Policy isn't graven on stone by supernatural beings and carried down from a mountaintop by Ken White. It's based on choices, it's developed, and it can be changed. Effective policy has to be the basis for any effective counterinsurgency operation; why would you want to omit the policy development process from the discussion?

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    The policy is what has to be developed.
    ..and once it has been developed has to be set forth. If that policy is violently opposed you have the choice to change it. That always has additional implications.
    Policy isn't graven on stone by supernatural beings and carried down from a mountaintop by Ken White. It's based on choices, it's developed, and it can be changed.
    I am very well aware of what policy and is not. My point here is that policy informs the strategy. You do not change policy simple because people oppose it, but you may have to, when the strategy fails to deliver.
    Effective policy has to be the basis for any effective counterinsurgency operation; why would you want to omit the policy development process from the discussion?
    Strategy alters policy and vice versa. CvC and common sense tells us this. I never said anything about omitting "the policy development process from the discussion?"

    If you can solve the problem without killing folks, then fine. That is politics. If you are happy for them to kill your people, to get you to do what they want you to do, then OK. Generally that is called surrender. It may work. It may serve policy. Usually Policy makers find it unacceptable.

    The bit I never seem to be able to get across is "I do not care about the policy." It can be making IKEA a world power for all I care.
    Col Bob Jones cares about the policy, and the Jones model - as far as I can see - is a policy. It is not a strategy or even an operation, let alone tactics. He has framed the problem to suit his solution, or vice versa.

    My interest is Warfare. I study it and write about it. Therefore I have to study ad understand the instrumental use of violence, to set forth policy. (War) That is what Strategy is.

    Once it has nothing to do with killing, it is politics. It is no longer War.
    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    this:
    We have discussed use of irregular forces and various pseudo-ops, primarily in the legal and ROE area - Is it time for psuedo operations in A-Stan?... (typo in the thread title).

    You might want to glance through that thread and see what "same pages" exist. If you are talking about using "warlord armies" (i.e., as some of the Northern Alliance groups were used by our special ops folks in 2001-2002 to wage unconventional warfare in its true sense), similar concepts apply.

    Fascinating area, really, since you can dream up your own mythological forces and ROEs (getting around the fact that real ROEs are classified, and special ops ROEs even more so).

    The "pseudo-ops" thread would seem a more specific place to discuss use of irregular forces in unconventional warfare.

    Cheers

    Mike
    Pseudo ops is only one possibility in the war-chest of irregular forces (or "special forces" if you want to play with semantics).

    Warlords have their place but the limitation is normally that they do not have the same aim and siding with you will be for only as long as it suits their purpose.

    As to ROEs I came from a war where there was no such thing.

    What I am essentially trying to say is that the irregular forces (whatever form they may take) should not be encumbered by the restrictive ROEs the ISAF are. One has to explore mechanisms to prevent and deal with excesses without emasculating the forces. I guess this would generally rule out US or UK involvement with such irregular forces as they have no means of opting out of such restrictive ROEs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    You'll need to explain that because ROE are almost always a military requirement, to ensure that violence is applied in line with policy.
    Good ROE make violence more useful, not less.
    This is an area which needs to be explored. The ROE are not published so I have to rely on snippets of info here and there.

    We don't have a base document to analyse but this type of release NATO/ISAF publication helps

    Perhaps more important from my point of view is to communicate to the population where their risk lies if they are found in close proximity to the enemy (TB) when we find them and strike. If anyone seriously thinks that the villages are going to side with the infidel even if they hate the TB we are seeing some sad wishful thinking here.

    So other than discuss aspects which are out in the public domain piecemeal I don't think any discussion on the ROE will be productive.

    That said maybe you would be so kind as to expand on the following: "Good ROE make violence more useful, not less."

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    That said maybe you would be so kind as to expand on the following: "Good ROE make violence more useful, not less."
    ROE are to ensure that the policy is not damaged by un-restricted violence. Good ROE are written with that in mind. Bad ROE just say "thou shalt not." Good ROE say, "Do not if..." - thus judgement and training are required.
    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

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    Actually, I do sometimes wonder why ROE are necessary at all.

    There are missions, there's the criminal code with its restrictions and there's the judgment of hopefully competent leaders.
    That should cover it, unless you assume that your junior leaders are incompetent and ROE issued by senior leadership need to substitute for the junior leadership's judgment.


    Then again I only need to recall certain NCOs and lieutenants to understand why senior leadership lacks the necessary trust in them. On the other hand, I do doubt that said 'special' people would be kept in check by ROEs if other junior leaders fail in their job.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Actually, I do sometimes wonder why ROE are necessary at all.

    There are missions, there's the criminal code with its restrictions and there's the judgment of hopefully competent leaders.
    That should cover it, unless you assume that your junior leaders are incompetent and ROE issued by senior leadership need to substitute for the junior leadership's judgment.
    I absolutely agree. ROE are actually just a form "operationalised" guidance for "rules" that should already be in place. It needs to be taught from Basic training onwards, but very rarely, if ever, is.
    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

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    Default Nope,

    as to this:

    from JMA
    "As to ROEs I came from a war where there was no such thing."
    because all wars (and all forms of warfare) have rules of engagement - the need to define and distinguish the enemy; and to neutralize the enemy (kill, capture or convert). Someone has to call those shots and therefore rules of engagement exist (not necessarily in written form).

    Of course, what you are saying (and presumably advocating) is the absence of the legalistic reams of modern ROEs that even I can't understand or see the logic of. We could do with the absence of many of those. So, "ROEs" that are trained-in, not imposed on.

    We also could do without the excessive reliance on criminal law in this area, which should be reserved for grave breaches. There are grey areas which are not suitable for application of criminal law, which requires bright line law and bright line facts in order to be effective. That is why we have such concepts as "beyond a reasonable doubt" and "specific intent to commit the crime".

    BTW: I think "regular forces" and "irregular forces" are fine semantics - defined by Callwell circa 1900; but going back into the late 1700s as well-defined concepts in US and UK military law (as to which, Wilf and I came to the same sources just after the French & Indian War in some PMs a while back). No need for new terminology.

    Regards

    Mike

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    I'd be curious to know which aspects of our ROE in Afghanistan are unacceptable and why. Specifically, I would like to see either...
    a) the quoted portion from the unclassified version
    b) a clear explanation of what the classified version is rumored to say

    In nearly nine years, I have not heard a legitimate gripe about ROE from Iraq or Afghanistan. What I have heard is a lot of whining by understandably frustrated Soldiers who are looking for something to blame their difficulties on.

  18. #418
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The situation varies depending on nationality.

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    That's a good point. I should clarify - I'm looking for an example from the US experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Actually, I do sometimes wonder why ROE are necessary at all.

    There are missions, there's the criminal code with its restrictions and there's the judgment of hopefully competent leaders.
    That should cover it, unless you assume that your junior leaders are incompetent and ROE issued by senior leadership need to substitute for the junior leadership's judgment.
    That never ending spiral of a paternalistic bureaucracy? Where we lack the spine and the confidence to do what we know is right (enough?) based on training and intuition. Not sure if I should add competence to the list….. I don’t actually think that we lack competence as such (well, some do), we just seem to have a strange relationship with it. I think the competence is present, it just seems to be overshadowed by all this other stuff that we have complicated society with. Some of it probably necessary, some of it definitely not.

    I am definitely with jmm99:

    Of course, what you are saying (and presumably advocating) is the absence of the legalistic reams of modern ROEs that even I can't understand or see the logic of. We could do with the absence of many of those. So, "ROEs" that are trained-in, not imposed on.
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

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