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Thread: COIN Counterinsurgency (merged thread)

  1. #701
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    You are a brave man, and will earn your PhD.

    Begin with good definitions, and that will likely mean laying out the various nuances of differing opinions and positions between organizations and over time. Once you have captured, analyzed and discussed that, put a stake in the ground and define and defend how you will differentiate between the three.

    In the purest sense, we have never conducted COIN in Afghanistan (or Iraq). We went in conducting UW, then shifted to a major in CT with a minor in FID. After a couple of years of that we elevated Karzai in a kangaroo election and promoted the production of a centralized form of government under the current constitution that left the Taliban government in exile no option but to wage revolutionary insurgency to regain some degree of influence in their homeland. At that point our FID effort grew in response to the growing revolutionary insurgency, which in turn promoted a growth of resistance insurgency to our growing presence and activities. A vicious circle.

    Now, we call that "COIN." SF guys will tell you that is a bastardized use of the term, but the conventional community likes it, and it matches with the use from the colonial intervention TTPs and lessons learned that we derived FM3-24 from. Capturing this debate/divergence between SF and the conventional Army (and the SF community's focus on CT that allowed it to happen) is also worth exploring.

    Anyway, like I said up front, you will earn your PhD if you can sort this out.

    Bob
    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)

  2. #702
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default

    A couple of quick notes-

    1. Concur with Bob on good definitions. I’ve sat with a lot of operational regular Army and SF units discussing terms. COIN, CT, and FID can mean anything to anyone.

    2. Instead of CT, you may want to use the term manhunting. You’ll find a vast amount of literature on it in the academic search engines.

    3. As far as what Bob describes as “bastardization,” instead of labels, you may want to analyze force size and mission tasks. There is a big difference between ten advisers training an Afghan unit in a safe area (FOB) and a 150 man American infantry company clearing, occupying a village and attempting to control it with a handful of Afghan soldiers along for “partnering.”

    4. Look past the military to see what other agencies are doing to promote the rule of law, governance, economics, judicial force, etc…

    Good luck

    Mike

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    Default Words matter

    OK. I teach at the graduate level, so I am a little more anal than some in the forum. Other professors may chime in with other views. I have also been a practitioner, mainly at the strategic level, so I have some practical insights, too.

    1. Are you writing in German or English? This is a BFD because there are nuances in both languages that often get lost in translation.

    2. Are you writing about doctrine or strategy, or what? You can't throw the various terms around loosely.

    3. There are synergistic forces among the three topics you are studying. Beware of those who say, "if this, then not that", because in most cases, COIN, CT and FID are all parts of the same whole.

    Danke. Mir geht's gut -- wie es immer den Guten geht.

  4. #704
    Council Member Johannes U's Avatar
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    Default Thanks for the answers

    ... but since I had a long day shooting at the range (and it's now past midnight) and tomorrow will also be a long day - more questions, answers and remarks tomorrow.

    Just one question:
    I read the attached chart in the way, that COIN, FID and CT are in the JP-hierarchy on the same level below Ops.

    Am I right in this thinking (and I know that they are not easily distinguished in reality).
    Attached Files Attached Files
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  5. #705
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Not to confuse things any more, but it seems to me that what we're dealing with in Afghanistan, and what we've been dealing with in Iraq, may not be any of these things.

    The great COIN-vs-FID debate often seems to overlook the reality that both our COIN doctrine and our FID doctrine are generally built around the assumption that the US is deploying forces to assist the threatened government of a friendly state facing an internal threat. These assumptions are of limited applicability in a case where we have invaded another state to remove a government and install a new one.

    I'd suggest that what we're doing in Afghanistan is not COIN nor FID not CT, though it involves elements of all. It's still regime change. Regime change logically has 3 broad stages:

    - Remove old government (generally pretty easy)
    - Install a new government (generally pretty difficult)
    - Shelter and support that new government until it is actually able to govern on its own... until it becomes an actual government, rather than a puppet extension of our presence.

    That 3rd stage is very difficult indeed, and that's where we're still mired in Afghanistan, and to some extent in Iraq.

    Far too much of our discourse seems to treat the GIRoA as if it was a pre-existing entity, an actual friendly government that we are assisting, rather than as a US creation and an extension of our presence. Far too often we assume that insurgency is a reaction to the way the GIRoA governs (or doesn't), without considering the lively possibility that it's primarily driven by our presence, and that the "government" we protect is just one of many facets of that presence that's generating resistance.

    I wouldn't presume to suggest changes in doctrine, which I know little or nothing about, but I'd suggest that much of our problem in Iraq and Afghanistan derives from fundamental assumptions about regime change, most notably the grotesque underestimation of the challenges involved in "installing" a government that can actually govern. Imposing practices and assumptions derived from experience in assisting pre-existing governments on a regime change situation is, I suspect, an inherently flawed approach. Stage 3 regime change may incorporate elements of FID and COIN, but it is fundamentally a different situation.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  6. #706
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    Default This Week at War: End of the COIN Era?

    This Week at War: End of the COIN Era?

    Entry Excerpt:

    Obama's Afghan withdrawal speech may mark the end of the U.S. counterinsurgency experiment.

    Here is the latest edition of my column at Foreign Policy:

    Topics include:

    1) By tossing the COIN to Afghanistan, Obama can now aim at Pakistan

    2) Are the Pentagon's plans about to become obsolete?

    By tossing the COIN to Afghanistan, Obama can now aim at Pakistan

    President Barack Obama's prime-time speech on his plan for withdrawing from Afghanistan left no doubt that he intends to run for reelection as the leader who ended two painful wars. Most notable was his intention to extract 10,000 soldiers this year and 23,000 more by next summer, before the height of Afghanistan's traditional summer fighting season. For some analysts, this would seem to be a large military risk, taken for purely domestic political benefit.

    Obama may have concluded that conventional U.S. ground forces in Afghanistan no longer provide much leverage over the military or political situation there. Obama realizes that the Taliban have established safe havens in both Afghanistan and Pakistan where they can wait as long as they need to. With those safe havens, he likely realizes that the coalition cannot obtain sufficient advantage over the Taliban to achieve a favorable negotiated settlement. Nor can anyone be sure how permanent the apparent progress in stabilizing southern Afghanistan really is.

    The real permanent leverage over the Taliban comes in two forms. The first is Afghanistan's security forces, both the government's and local militias, which will presumably operate long after coalition soldiers have left the field. A favorable outcome ultimately rests not with U.S. combat patrols but with the long-term effectiveness of Afghan security forces, something which remains very much in doubt. For those officers responsible for U.S. military doctrine, Obama's speech would seem to bring to a close another unhappy encounter with counterinsurgency (COIN) theory. But true COIN -- winning over the population through security and better governance -- is not done by an outside intervening power like the United States, but by the host country itself. Although Afghanistan provides particularly poor raw material for U.S. COIN doctrine, U.S. military planners still need to solve the COIN puzzle for future contingencies, at a much lower cost than the United States paid in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Click below to read more ...



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  7. #707
    Council Member Johannes U's Avatar
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    Default Some clarifications

    To answer your questions:

    @ old eagle:
    • I will write in English (better language for this topic in my opinion)
    • Doctrine or strategy - good question, but since both are linked, I will write about both

    @bob:
    • Thanks for the flowers, but especially thanks for the advice.
    • OK, so this whole COIN - CT - FID thing is a mess of intermingling concepts, but what is the overall goal - nationbuilding?
    • To state the question more clearly: if what the US+Allied forces are doing in Afghanistan (and probably in Iraq) is COIN+CT+FID, under what heading do those missions fall?

    @ MikeF:
    • Will follow your advice, especially 4

    @ All:
    • I plan to not only write about the case of Afghanistan, but probably also Iraq, maybe even Somalia 1991ff
    • One of the questions I want to answer is whether/how the US strategy concerning COIN/CT/FID changed over the times in different missions
    • Another question I want to answer is, how the different strategies effected the ROEs in different ways
    • And last (for now) I want to also differentiate between insurgents and terrorists. I do believe that they have a lot of common ground and that you can differentiate between them only to a certain degree (Hizbollah for example)
    L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace. (Napoleon)

    It's always easier to ask for forgiveness than permisson.

  8. #708
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    Default Afghanistan or Iraq

    Johannes:

    Echoing Troop's comment, I believe you will find much more consistent and credible source information and analytical resources on Iraq that will be highly appropriate to your field of study.

    Particularly, you can now begin to contrast efforts with results, and with the depth of background that is readily identifiable through newly published works by the likes of Gareth Stansfield (Exeter), and (if he is back to academia) Wilfried Buchta (Frieburg? or through his published Crisis Group work).

    Similar works are emerging from US sources, and, as time goes rapidly by, from Iraqi sources that will allow you to paint the entire picture, and fully test and defend a thesis.

    Just my two cents, but I believe you will find, as other commenters have noted, that Afghanistan is a bag containing many different, and as yet unknown, things which will result in a very difficult time unscrambling in order to then begin your thesis. Why make two jobs when only one is required?

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    Default Before you launch

    Start by reading as many general works on the subject as you can. Get familiar with the issues. Settle on definitions you will use, as they vary widely.

    Then develop a thesis that is focused and narrow in scope. This is perhaps the most difficult task. If your paper is going to be a couple of hundred pages, you can be sloppier than if it's shorter. (Still not recommended.)

    Then read the high-end sources and see where the evidence leads. Do not cherry pick. Do not lap up everything that is available. Rather, read critically and carefully analyze the information available.

    Keep the forum informed of your progress and we will try to assist.

  10. #710
    Council Member Johannes U's Avatar
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    Question Theoretical background

    Old eagle, you sure are right about the difficulty of developing a sound and narrow thesis.
    Since my tutor "only" allows me to write around 300 pages, I sure will have to find/develop a narrow thesis.

    The main problem I have so far is how I view those different terms from a theoretical background.
    Are they (military) strategy, doctrine/concepts, policy ...
    I know that sounds a bit confusing, but that's where I stand right now.
    I do know that the questions in my last post were probably a bit widely phrased and I will try to narrow down further.

    But maybe you can answer my basic question:
    If you view the terms from a military viewpoint (and I further on don't want to exclude the civil side), what is the common denominator for all of them?

    Concerning literature:
    For now I have the different JPs, I have the National Security Strategy 2010, the latest QDR ...
    Concerning books, I have Mansoors "Baghdad at sunrise" and I have ordered Kilcullens "Accidental guerilla".
    I have access to all the Military Review, JFQ and parameters articles.

    Is there anything I forgot?
    I'm also thinking about Galula.

    Thanks for the advice.
    L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace. (Napoleon)

    It's always easier to ask for forgiveness than permisson.

  11. #711
    Council Member Johannes U's Avatar
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    Red face Si tacuisses philosophus mansisses ...

    ... or as the saying goes.
    I just met with my tutor and we defined my PhD thesis in a more exact way:
    "Counterinsurgency vs Counterterrorism - an analysis of the difference by comparing applied measures and ROEs as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan"

    I want to compare how the different levels of leadership/command (mainly strategic to operational level) apply different kinetic and non-kinetic measures and how the ROEs change.

    As the coincidence goes - the US just released the new national CT strategy.
    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/jou...m_strategy.pdf
    Let's see how usefull it will be for me.´

    If you have any suggestions for further research/literature, just call ...

    Let's see how this will work out - I'm really looking forward

    Greetings from Austria (no, we don't have kangaroos)
    L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace. (Napoleon)

    It's always easier to ask for forgiveness than permisson.

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    Default COIN and FM 3-24

    COIN and FM 3-24

    Entry Excerpt:

    Be Honest: Who Actually Read FM 3-24? by Starbuck at Wings over Iraq. BLUF: "At a US Army Combat Training Center, an informal poll of Observer-Controllers, many of whom had just returned from counterinsurgency conflicts and had advised units of counterinsurgency tactics, only twenty percent admitted to reading FM 3-24. Perhaps the problem with counterinsurgency lies with us, not with the doctrine?"

    Starbuck is Wrong by Carl Prine at Line of Departure. BLUF: "Starbuck is wrong. And in his drive to keep getting it wrong, he’s trying to rewrite FM 3–24, the military’s chief doctrinal publication on counterinsurgency. But that just makes him more wrong. He’s wrong about me. He’s wrong about what I believe. He’s wrong about the literature that informs FM 3–24. He’s wrong about what the manual says and he’s wrong about what it left out. He’s wrong about historiography. He’s wrong about how a caste of top officers and diplomats came to understand “strategy” in the wake of the occupation of Iraq."



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    Default COIN Monthly Webcast 21 July 2011

    COIN Monthly Webcast 21 July 2011

    Entry Excerpt:

    The US Army Counterinsurgency (COIN) Center is pleased to host Lieutenant Colonel Adrian T. Bogart III on 21 July for our monthly webcast. LTC Bogart will be discussing command and control as well as the coordination of joint, interagency, irregular and multi-national forces during COIN operations.

    Entitled “Counterinsurgency Mission Command” the brief will discuss the "how to" of the day-to-day management of multiple forces and organizations conducting combined COIN operations. The brief includes a review of the mechanics of executing a unity of effort for various commands and organizations involved in combating an insurgency and the key organizational and procedural constructs for the day to day management of the campaign.

    His online briefing is scheduled for Thursday, 21 July 2011 at 10:00 CDT (1100 EDT, 15:00 ZULU).

    Those interested in attending may view the meeting online at https://connect.dco.dod.mil/coinweb and participate via Defense Connect Online (DCO) as a guest. Remote attendees will be able to ask questions and view the slides through the software.



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  14. #714
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    Default The Interpreter COIN Discussion

    The Interpreter COIN Discussion

    Entry Excerpt:

    Two interesting pieces at The Interpreter (Lowy Institute for International Policy):

    Doubts about Leahy's Afghanistan Plan by Dr. Milton Osborne

    ...in every counter-insurgency campaign of which I am aware, the goal of overcoming insurgents through programs that emphasise civic as well as military action can only be contemplated when both the non-military personnel who are carrying out that action and their clients can be protected.
    It seems evident to me that such a situation does not exist in Afghanistan, and is not likely to be achieved in any foreseeable future, whatever brave statements are made to the contrary.
    Our Undeserved COIN Reputation by Major General (Ret) Jim Molan

    ... I never met anyone in any position of authority who said that success in these wars could be achieved by military forces alone, but the creation of relative security for the people by the use of military or para-military forces is the first and most essential step. Security does not have to be perfect. But political, social and economic progress will not occur while the local population has the insurgent or terrorist tearing their collective throat out...
    Both authors were writing in response to Time Running Out to Fix Strategy for Afghanistan by Peter Leahy in The Australian.

    ... The West has mistaken killing terrorists and counter-insurgency warfare for nation building. All three are needed but at different times and different degrees. It is clear the only way to deal with many of today's terrorists is to strengthen our defences and kill those who maintain their murderous intent. We can conduct raids on them in their lairs with drones as in Pakistan and raw air power as in Libya. But these actions are also likely to destabilise the countries we attack and generate more terrorists then we kill. So counter-insurgency and nation building will still be needed...

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  15. #715
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    Default Evolving the COIN Field Manual: A Case for Reform

    Evolving the COIN Field Manual: A Case for Reform

    Entry Excerpt:

    Evolving the COIN Field Manual: A Case for Reform
    by Carl Prine, Crispin Burke, and Michael Few

    Download the Full Article: Evolving the COIN Field Manual: A Case for Reform

    Nearly a decade removed from 9/11, United States military forces remain entrenched in small wars around the globe. For the foreseeable future, the United States Government (USG) will continue to intervene in varying scale and scope in order to promote democracy and capitalism abroad. While many made efforts to describe small wars and methods of coping with them, our field manuals have not kept up with the wealth of knowledge and wisdom learned on the ground.

    In order to prepare for the future, we must first understand where we have been moving beyond individual articles of best practices and lessons learned. The intent of this essay is to provide the critique in order to promote an evolution in our thinking. The purpose is to better prepare those who will follow in our footsteps. Finally, we believe that this reform is a duty required from those who directly observed the costs of today’s small wars.

    Download the Full Article: Evolving the COIN Field Manual: A Case for Reform

    Carl Prine is a former enlisted Marine and Army infantryman who served in Iraq. Currently, he serves as a reporter at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and blogs on national security affairs for Military.com.

    Captain (P) Crispin Burke is an active duty aviator who commanded in Iraq. Currently, he is the unmanned aviation observer controller at the Combined Maneuver Training Center at Hohenfels, Germany, and he blogs on national security affairs at Wings over Iraq.

    Major James Michael Few is an active duty armor officer who served multiple tours to Iraq in various command and staff positions. Currently, he serves as the editor for Small Wars Journal.




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  16. #716
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    Default The Iraqi COIN Narrative Revisited: Interview with Douglas A. Ollivant

    The Iraqi COIN Narrative Revisited: Interview with Douglas A. Ollivant

    Entry Excerpt:

    The Iraqi COIN Narrative Revisited: Interview with Douglas A. Ollivant
    by Octavian Manea

    Download the Full Article: The Iraqi COIN Narrative Revisited: Interview with Douglas A. Ollivant

    How would you see today the rationale behind the 2007 Bagdad surge? To act as a buffer between the Iraqi sectarian, ethnic pressures and ontological (group extinction) fears? To protect a Sunni population that could not be protected by the formal Iraqi security forces (either because of weakness or because the Sunnis didn’t trust them) and setting the stage for the next level-a rational political space?

    Protecting the population is important. But the sad fact is that by early 2007 in Baghdad, the Sunni groups had been pushed back to small enough enclaves that it was fairly easy to protect them, save in Southern Baghdad, where the cleansing continued well into the fall of 2007. The continued cleansing in South Baghdad made me skeptical that things were working until very late in 2007, despite the obvious reduction in violence elsewhere in the city as of late summer.
    So yes, protecting the population is important. But I don’t think that we could have done much to protect them in mid-2006. The civil war had to burn itself out—the Sunnis had to realize that they had lost and the Shi’a had to realize that we had won—before a settlement could be reached.

    I do think that the presence of additional U.S. troops in the urban areas tamped down the end of the civil war faster than it might otherwise have happened. U.S. forces worked with the local trend to accelerate it, and did not impose a totally foreign agenda. Had we started the “surge” plan in Sadr City, for example, I think the outcome might have been much less favorable. I have come to a more tempered view of what military forces are able to accomplish, as I tried to lay out in my Washington Post piece on the “three wars” in Afghanistan.

    Download the Full Article: The Iraqi COIN Narrative Revisited: Interview with Douglas A. Ollivant

    Douglas A. Ollivant is a Senior National Security Fellow with the New America Foundation. He most recently spent one year as the Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to the Commander, Regional Command-East at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, returning to Washington this spring. He served in Iraq as the Chief of Plans for MultiNational Division Baghdad in 2006-2007 and he led the planning team that designed the Baghdad Security Plan, the main effort of what later became known as the "Surge." An expanded view of his thoughts is presented in Countering the New Orthodoxy-Reinterpreting Counterinsurgency in Iraq.

    Octavian Manea is Editor of FP Romania, the Romanian edition of Foreign Policy.




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    Default PMOPS and SECOPS are not words but their meanings are clear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Johannes U View Post
    ... or as the saying goes.
    I just met with my tutor and we defined my PhD thesis in a more exact way:
    "Counterinsurgency vs Counterterrorism - an analysis of the difference by comparing applied measures and ROEs as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan"
    An underlying point of this item is that it is very Wylie - as Saito will probably agree – to avoid being moved onto ground preferred by an opponent. But currently such movement often occurs due to thoughtless re-use of ‘politically correct’ terms that are routinely introduced by people who may think of and refer to themselves as intellectuals and SNAGs, or more correctly SNAPs.

    Of course such individuals may be clever - though not necessarily in an intellectual sense – and they are better described as sensitive new age propagandists rather than sensitive new age people. The problem is that such use of terminology often sticks because it is not identified and combated. The proliferation of ‘Counterinsurgency’ manuals is a prime example.

    Common sense or access to a dictionary/thesaurus can make allegiance or viewpoint easy to identify. For example war games as opposed to defex or tacex. Due to blurring and also dependent upon context, terms such as guerrilla, insurgent, partisan, patriot may seem preferable to nihilist, rebel, revolutionary, terrorist, zealot or the more neutral adversary, enemy or opponent.

    However, much of what passes as ‘insurgency’ can be more appropriately described as ‘pseudo-revolutionary warfare (PRW)’ because it has been fostered or even contrived by external interests as a direct or proxy means by which to exert influence, or to distract and degrade an opponent. As a fairly recent and major example one can look at the PRW campaigns waged on most continents by the USA and the former-USSR.

    My take on ‘counterinsurgency/COIN’ is that it is a malapropism. Also that its use is on the one hand clever and on the other foolish. Firstly, the term COIN is weak because it is reactive. Secondly, COIN implies that an opponent is indigenous and that his interests may therefore be home-grown. If the purpose is to clarify rather than obscure, then there are better terms for legitimate use by the military.

    One such term is peacemaking ops which is strongly objective. Another is secops (or if that seems liable to mispronunciation then securitops) as a term by which to describe police activities directed against terrorism. And there are others which could be generally preferable to the malapropisms that are in widespread current use.

    There is also a corollary. It can be difficult when considering foreign policy and military activities abroad to distinguish altruistic PKOPS from opportunistic PRW.

  18. #718
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Stick to these narrow examples and you will be fine

    Quote Originally Posted by Johannes U View Post
    ... or as the saying goes.
    I just met with my tutor and we defined my PhD thesis in a more exact way:
    "Counterinsurgency vs Counterterrorism - an analysis of the difference by comparing applied measures and ROEs as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan"

    I want to compare how the different levels of leadership/command (mainly strategic to operational level) apply different kinetic and non-kinetic measures and how the ROEs change.

    As the coincidence goes - the US just released the new national CT strategy.
    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/jou...m_strategy.pdf
    Let's see how usefull it will be for me.´

    If you have any suggestions for further research/literature, just call ...

    Let's see how this will work out - I'm really looking forward

    Greetings from Austria (no, we don't have kangaroos)
    When I hear "COIN vs CT" in general it sets my teeth on edge; for certainly that dichotomy of choices is no way to look at a foreign intervention and hope to attain a comprehensive, successful scheme of engagement.

    However, that IS how we approached Iraq and Afghanistan, so to drill into how those terms were defined during the course of those operations, what types of operations were conducted under those banners; what types of effects were achieved, etc is indeed something worth laying open for inspection.
    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)

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    Default Interest in ROE comparison

    When you get to it, I'd be interested in the ROE comparison - and which ROE constructs are included for discussion.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default Abu M on Ph.D.s for Dummies

    Maybe useful for SWC students:http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawam...s-dummies.html

    Very USA-based, maybe thee are clues though!
    davidbfpo

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