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Thread: ISAF Campaign Plan Summary

  1. #21
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heh. The logical question is "Why should they" but we know logic is not involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Alderson View Post
    Indeed, a rather amusing game of cat and mouse developed between those in Baghdad and the GAO (see http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081021t.pdf) over the very issue of public statements of intent.
    GAO get involved, I mean. Why should they? (I know their answer; I'm looking for a real and sensible answer...)

    GAO is always amusing, very much so. They're also tedious, eminently predictable and mostly a waste of money. That tends to happen when you approach your job with foreknowledge of what your 'audit' will produce...

    Still, I can visualize the haggling across the table and -- has anyone invented an automatic word parser yet? -- the general ignorance of most auditors on the topic du jour.

    I too have had a lot of fun with them. You get a sharp, knoweldgeable one who's done his or her homework occasionally but it's regrettably rare.
    Ken (is) justified to ask 'What's the point?' If it is to stimulate a bit of discussion among those who are interested and care, and to get a different take, beyond tell us more, John's post has worked.
    Could be and if so, you're correct that it has worked. Though I have noticed over the last 20 years or so an Army tendency to produce and publish too many such papers that really say little if anything in an attempt to defer scrutiny -- and what those sorts of papers really do is virtually beg Auditors and worse to come calling...

    Congress and the GAO may not be very bright but they are incredibly sensitive to tap dancing and Army attempts to plant angels on the heads of pins generally fail as Tom Odom pointed out elsewhere. CALL ought to do a paper on the futility of that...

  2. #22
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default The New ISAF Boss Speaks

    Received this via other means this AM.

    Commander
    Headquarters
    International Security Assistance Force
    Kabul Afghanistan
    APO AE 09356

    Commander's Initial Guidance As of: 13 June 09


    To the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Civilians of ISAF,

    The situation in Afghanistan is serious. The outcome is important--and not yet decided. Our actions this year will be critical. We must, and will, succeed.

    Success will be defined by the Afghan people's freedom to choose their future--freedom from coercion, extremists, malign foreign influence, or abusive government actions.

    The outcome will be determined by our ability to understand and act with precision, the values we display, our unity of purpose, and our resolve.

    The challenges to Afghanistan are complex and interrelated. Solutions will not be simple. The ongoing insurgency must be met with a counterinsurgency campaign adapted to the unique conditions in each area that:

    - Protects the Afghan people--allowing them to choose a future they can be proud of
    - Provides a secure environment allowing good government and economic development to undercut the causes and advocates of insurgency

    This effort will be long and difficult--there is no single secret for success. As imperatives we must:

    1. Protect and Partner with the People. We are fighting for the Afghan people--not against them. Our focus on their welfare will build the trust and support necessary for success.

    2. Conduct a comprehensive Counterinsurgency Campaign. Insurgencies fail when root causes disappear. Security is essential; but I believe our ultimate success lies in partnering with the Afghan Government, partner nations, NGO's, and other to build the foundations of good government and economic development.

    3. Understand the Environment. We must understand in detail the situation, however complex, and be able to explain it to others. Our ability to act effectively demands a real appreciation for the positive and negative impact of everything we do--or fail to do. Understanding is a prerequisite for success.

    4. Ensure Values Underpin our Effort. We must demonstrate thru our words and actions our commitment to fair play, our respect and sensitivity for the cultures and traditions of others, and an understanding that rule of law and humanity don't end when fighting starts. Both our goals and conduct must be admired.

    5. Listen Closely--Speak Clearly. We must listen to understand--and speak clearly to be understood. Communicating our intentions and accurately reflecting our actions to all audiences is a critical responsibility--and necessity.

    6. Act as One Team. We are an alliance of nations with different histories, cultures, and national objectives--united in our support for Afghanistan. We must be unified in purpose, forthright in communication, and committed to each other.

    7. Constantly Adapt. This war is unique, and our ability to respond to even subtle changes in conditions will be decisive. I ask you to challenge conventional wisdom and abandon practices that are ingrained into many military cultures. And I ask you to push me to do the same.

    8. Act with Courage and Resolve. Hard fighting, difficult decisions, and inevitable losses will mark the days ahead. Each of us, from our most junior personnel to our senior leaders, must display physical, mental, and moral courage. Our partners must trust our commitment; enemies must not question our resolve.

    You have my thanks for all that you have done, and will do. I promise to be the best partner I am able to be.

    //Original Signed//
    STANLY A. McCHRYSTAL
    General, U.S. Army
    Commander,
    U.S. Forces-Afghanistan /
    International Security Assistance
    Force, Afghanistan
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. ó Sydney J. Harris

  3. #23
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    2. Conduct a comprehensive Counterinsurgency Campaign. Insurgencies fail when root causes disappear. Security is essential; but I believe our ultimate success lies in partnering with the Afghan Government, partner nations, NGO's, and other to build the foundations of good government and economic development.
    That's just not true. It's bad history. Maybe there is something I am not getting here.
    a.) According to Kilcullen, only about 4% of the Afghan people support the Taliban. Is their any evidence that the Taliban do enjoy popular support? If there is no popular support, then what are the root causes?
    b.) FACT: Not all insurgencies require popular support! History is quite clear on this. Insurgencies are military forces and popularity is just a plus. I can think of about 5 major insurgencies that treated the population pretty badly and still flourished.
    c.) The Taliban does not need popular support to win. They just have to be there when NATO's gives up. Regardless of popular support, if NATO goes, without inflicting military defeat on the Taliban, the Taliban(s) will take over unless the Afghan Govt. can resist them militarily - because they don't need popular support to win.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-18-2009 at 07:21 PM. Reason: Spelling
    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 That dead German guy again ....

    This is not totally thought out, so excuse me for thinking out loud - with thoughts based on CvC Book 8 (see quotes at this post).

    Let us posit a situation where the People are split 5% for the insurgents (Taliban if you like); 5% for the incumbant (Astan govt if you like); and the other 90% are elsewhere.

    Would this not resemble the pre-French Revolution situation in Europe, where the objective set by Politik (damn Germans have the same word for politics and policy ) is necessarily limited and the plan of the war is also necessarily limited ?

    If so, should we not see something that is quite different from CvC's "ideal war" (the theoretical construct where the passions of the People are indeed aroused, etc.) ?

    And, one might ask, is not this more limited construct applicable to most armed conflicts that we call insurgencies ?

    In short, are we in fact unlikely to see an "ideal war"; remembering that is not what CvC endorsed as the best way to wage war, but only as the theoretical construct which is approached when (from link to Book 8 above):

    Thus, therefore, the element of war, freed from all conventional restrictions, broke loose, with all its natural force. The cause was the participation of the people in this great affair of State, and this participation arose partly from the effects of the French Revolution on the internal affairs of countries, partly from the threatening attitude of the French towards all nations.
    As a matter of political theory, I suppose that involving the People as active participants (even if only moral supporters) in an insurgency would be a great plus for whichever side could capture their unqualified support. However, if that were the case (that the People would participate en masse), there probably would not be an insurgency in the first place - or, if started, would not last long.

    -------------------------
    The objective set by Politik for Astan (based the 13 Jun Guidance) is:

    Success will be defined by the Afghan people's freedom to choose their future--freedom from coercion, extremists, malign foreign influence, or abusive government actions.
    These "Four Freedoms", leading to the ultimate freedom ("to choose their future"), certainly relate directly to the People and are certanly political enough (Rove and Carville would be at home in that environment).

    However, looking to strategy as here defined:

    Strategy is the employment of the battle to gain the end of the war; it must therefore give an aim to the whole military action, which must be in accordance with the object of the war; in other words, strategy forms the plan of the war, and to the said aim it links the series of acts which are to lead to the same, that is to say, it makes the plans for the separate campaigns, and regulates the combats to be fought in each.
    I find it hard to visualize the "series of acts" (military) which would lead to the penultimate objects (the "Four Freedoms") and the ultimate objective - allowing the Astan People (if that posited entity exists as a real entity) the freedom to choose their future.

    The Command Guidance does present what seems a localized plan:

    The ongoing insurgency must be met with a counterinsurgency campaign adapted to the unique conditions in each area that:

    - Protects the Afghan people--allowing them to choose a future they can be proud of

    - Provides a secure environment allowing good government and economic development to undercut the causes and advocates of insurgency
    but, if (repeat "if") it works "in each area", how will it then proceed from what local Afghans want to the much higher level of what the "Afghan People" want ?

    In short, can the "Afghan People" be treated as a monolith; or, in fact, is there such a thing as the "Afghan People" in reality, as opposed to an international legalism ?
    Last edited by jmm99; 06-18-2009 at 07:28 PM.

  5. #25
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    Default Operations, not strategy

    Keep in mind that McChrystal is not the strategic commander here. In both roles (as ISAF commander and commander of US forces - most of them anyway - in Afghanistan) he is an operational commander responsible for designing and carrying out a campaign that will reach strategic goals set by others. This means that he is constrained and restrained in what he can do. Yes, he has quite a bit of influence on what will happen, but the strategy is formulated in various American and European capitols, Brussels, and Tampa.

  6. #26
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default There Is No Insurgency To Counter!

    According to this Afghan official who lives in a country run by the Mafia and Drug Dealers. This is a smart guy he not only knows Afghanistan but also Ecocnomics......Money is never the limiting factor! Need to throw Kharzid(kant spel) out put his drug dealing brother in jail and make this guy King! Then he can come fix America. Especially his talk about all the ASSUMPTIONS made about Capitalism and how good it is that are not true!




    http://www.ted.com/talks/ashraf_ghan...en_states.html
    Last edited by slapout9; 06-18-2009 at 07:31 PM. Reason: fix stuff

  7. #27
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    Default Yup, Eden ....

    I'm well aware of this:

    Operations, not strategy

    Keep in mind that McChrystal is not the strategic commander here. In both roles (as ISAF commander and commander of US forces - most of them anyway - in Afghanistan) he is an operational commander responsible for designing and carrying out a campaign that will reach strategic goals set by others.
    The objective (what is termed "success" in the Guidance) is set by Politik. Lets say we are at Point A and want to get to Point B (the objective set by Politik). CvC would call the plan to get from A to B, a part of what he called strategy. We call the plan from A to B, operations. I'm not hung on semantics.

    Thus, one of my questions is whether the objective set by policy (which has the "Afghan People" participating as a collective people) is even possible as the culmination of a military plan ?

    This has nothing to do with Stan McChrystal's competence. I can see where he can get from point a to point b on a local basis.

    The question is whether those local pieces can add up to a whole (that is, to get from Point A to Point B), or whether Politik is tasking him to fight a war of a different nature than its reality ?
    Last edited by jmm99; 06-18-2009 at 08:21 PM.

  8. #28
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    This has nothing to do with Stan McChrystal's competence. I can see where he can get from point a to point b on a local basis.

    The question is whether those local pieces can add up to a whole (that is, to get from Point A to Point B), or whether Politik is tasking him to fight a war of a different nature than its reality ?
    Absolutely agree -- the effort is going to be made or broken at the district level. Incompetent or misguided battalion and company level leadership will equal failure or extended stays. Also, if brigade leadership tries to micromanage it will fail, because with the current structure they are too far removed from the ground truth to make good decisions at that level. The brigade should simply support the battalions with the needed assets, nothing more.
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

  9. #29
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That is one of the most intelligent generic tactical statements

    Quote Originally Posted by IntelTrooper View Post
    The brigade should simply support the battalions with the needed assets, nothing more.
    I've read in in years.

    Should apply generally and not just in Afghanistan...

  10. #30
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I've read in in years.

    Should apply generally and not just in Afghanistan...
    I'm flattered, sir!
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    That's just not true. It's bad history. Maybe there is something I am not getting here.
    a.) According to Kilcullen, only about 4% of the Afghan people support the Taliban. Is their any evidence that the Taliban do enjoy popular support? If there is no popular support, then what are the root causes?
    b.) FACT: Not all insurgencies require popular support! History is quite clear on this. Insurgencies are military forces and popularity is just a plus. I can think of about 5 major insurgencies that treated the population pretty badly and still flourished.
    c.) The Taliban does not need popular support to win. They just have to be there when NATO's gives up. Regardless of popular support, if NATO goes, without inflicting military defeat on the Taliban, the Taliban(s) will take over unless the Afghan Govt. can resist them militarily - because they don't need popular support to win.
    I'm with Wilf here. I remember getting into a prolonged argument with a spook about why the Taleban had a viable stake in the future of their country, and hence the reason for reconciliation. Horses***. The Taleban receive support at the end of a gun, and from local leaders who are supporting the dominant local power with whom they best personally survive or thrive. Moreover, they're a largely Pakistani/ISI artificial constuct. No 'home grown' noble tribal insurgency here, thought they do get lots of Tier 3 pushtun badmashes for the reasons above. The reason for reconciliation is to give them a political option to behave like adults when they tire of us slaughtering them...I mean they embrace a political solution...like PIRA/Sinn Fein.

    And ultimately unfair to criticise ISAF when the NAC/EU/International Community remain unable to forge a coherent line on the Afghan issue. We are but the pawns of politicians...

  12. #32
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default A twofer...

    Intel Trooper: Brigades were once tactical headquarters with no sustainment or support capability, all that came from Division or Corps. The Combat Command and RCT structures of WW II continued that and the Division still provided the support. Interesting thing is that the only Division battles in the last century were either on the vast plains of Russia, the North African desert and in Kuwait for Desert Storm. Everyplace else, it's been a Brigade fight so we've morphed a bit and put more support at the Brigade level. The theory is we're organized to fight on the basis of Brigades and they're self sustaining but there are two flaws with that. The first is that we have not adequately evolved the support and sustainment process so that Divisions or something like them are not necessary; the second is that some THINK we need jobs for Major Generals (the Personnel community knows we need them; that helps justify their existence.

    What everyone needs to recall is that Division adds nothing to any fight other than in rare circumstances and ideal terrain for their employment -- at all other times, they effectively become a bureaucratic impediment. For the US in the Battle of the Bulge, every Hq above Battalion became an impediment. That was true most of the time in Korea and too often in Viet Nam...

    Brigades today exist to point Battalions at a mission and to support them but otherwise to stay out of the way. They need to be able to tell a Battalion to do 'X' and then rest assured that Battalion will do that or report that it cannot and ask for other instructions. Only then does the Bde need to be active in the C2 role.

    If that is not the case in actuality, we're doing something wrong...

    Agree with Coldstreamer and Wilf. We Americans are spouting 'COIN doctrinal precepts' as if they were truth. They are not. Every war is different. Mao didn't know it all nor did Galula -- orJohn Boyd. McChrystal's supposed to be a smart guy; so is Petreaus. Hopefully as both of them gain more Afghan experience they'll discover that they cannot just shift their Iraq experience and continue the march. Afghanistan is whole different mess and the people and the terrain are very different. Then maybe all the talking heads and unthinking tanks will get on board and realize the same thing. Smart people do a lot of dumb stuff because of the herd effect.

    Hopefully, we will learn that there is no one size fits all for any war. The cookie cutter approach is easy to teach and spout (mostly spout...) but it is fatally flawed as doctrine.
    We are but the pawns of politicians...
    That's entirely too true -- and in large measure, we ask for it by being too subservient and too willing to say "I'll try, sir." (w/apologies to Calvin Titus). As one of my pet Generals was fond of saying, "We 'Can-do' ourselves to death. Literally."

    That and our stupid egos...

  13. #33
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Intel Trooper: The theory is we're organized to fight on the basis of Brigades and they're self sustaining but there are two flaws with that. The first is that we have not adequately evolved the support and sustainment process so that Divisions or something like them are not necessary; the second is that some THINK we need jobs for Major Generals (the Personnel community knows we need them; that helps justify their existence.
    Awesome history lesson, thanks Ken! (now I get to be righteously indignant every time I hear something was overriden by Division!)
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

  14. #34
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Just work at puncturing egos

    Quote Originally Posted by IntelTrooper View Post
    (now I get to be righteously indignant every time I hear something was overriden by Division!)
    above you. That helps everybody!!!

    Really.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    .We Americans are spouting 'COIN doctrinal precepts' as if they were truth. They are not. Every war is different. Mao didn't know it all nor did Galula -- or John Boyd.
    I can only agree, and we have 2,000 years of history to show that. Unfortunately new-COIN is built on a very selective reading of history, to make the problem appear to be the one folks want to solve.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coldstreamer View Post
    I'm with Wilf here. I remember getting into a prolonged argument with a spook about why the Taleban had a viable stake in the future of their country, and hence the reason for reconciliation. Horses***.
    OK, A Guards officer is in agreement with something I said... scary!
    ...but yes. I think you are right. Talking to UK guys just back off Ops, they all seem to think that the COIN stuff is pretty much nonsense, in terms of how the New-COIN-Fashion wants to invent the problem.

    Very obviously, not all Irregular Forces are fighting as insurgencies. Unfortunately the US has backed itself into a corner, by essentially declaring they are.
    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

  16. #36
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default CvC Redux

    If we accept that the "trinity" of the people, the political leadership, and the armed forces is an appropriate construct (and I think it is ), then I think what we may be missing in the whole AF AOR is that there is not one Afghan trinity and one Taleban trinity--there's a bunch of them. That is the value of the section from the new CGs guidance about taking a regional approach. Too bad folks on top don't seem to have noticed that Afghanistan is about as much a single nation as Yugoslavia was (or the Congo and Somilia are for that matter). BTW, the comment from Coldstreamer about the lack of unity in the ISAF/NAC/EU/International Community is also reflective of the fact that each side in a conflict has a trinity, or many trinities, to deal with. This is not a simple "my tribe V. your tribe conflict," the ideal case of CvC's model for war. Nor is it a simple case of "We monarchies united against you stinking, regicide populist French revolutionaries to maintain/restore the status quo"--the recent environment which framed "On War." CvC has lessons that apply. Folks just need to make sure that they get applied in the right contexts and at the right levels.
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  17. #37
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    If we accept that the "trinity" of the people, the political leadership, and the armed forces is an appropriate construct (and I think it is ), then I think what we may be missing in the whole AF AOR is that there is not one Afghan trinity and one Taleban trinity--there's a bunch of them.
    Exactly, and having trying to compete for the support of one aspect (population) of those trinities may be entirely pointless.
    BTW, the comment from Coldstreamer about the lack of unity in the ISAF/NAC/EU/International Community is also reflective of the fact that each side in a conflict has a trinity, or many trinities, to deal with.
    Exactly, so why do we keep getting the subtext that "Oooh! A'Stan is so complex! Complex insurgency!" When was it in history that all war was not unutterably complex. War is complex. Wow.... who saw that coming
    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 wm View Post
    If we accept that the "trinity" of the people, the political leadership, and the armed forces is an appropriate construct (and I think it is ), then I think what we may be missing in the whole AF AOR is that there is not one Afghan trinity and one Taleban trinity--there's a bunch of them. That is the value of the section from the new CGs guidance about taking a regional approach.
    Yes,Yes, in one of the first versions of the 5 rings analysis The leadership ring is so critical that the AF suggested that a seprate analysis be done of EVERY political group that may oppose or support us. That is why I say it is a lot like police work we operate in the middle of multiple gangs not just one.

  19. #39
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yes. But...

    Quoth Wilf:
    "Unfortunately the US has backed itself into a corner, by essentially declaring they are."
    It's what we do best...

    That way, all the various pomposities get their 15 minutes of fame by spouting great truths.

    Slap said:
    "The leadership ring is so critical that the AF suggested that a seprate analysis be done of EVERY political group that may oppose or support us..."
    The problem with that in any FID or COIN effort is that there are too many leadership rings to engage and that they also are almost invariably able to replicate themselves like the proverbial arm of the Starfish -- or tails on Geckos. The five rings bit has some applicability in conventional war, not so much in the messy muddle that is typical in FID and IW. That IMO is due to the fact that accurate intel is hard to gather and that, even if you do get accuracy in that, the number of nodes and the flexibility to attack them effectively will generally not exist.
    "... That is why I say it is a lot like police work we operate in the middle of multiple gangs not just one.
    True -- and beat cops, even most Departments are flexible enough to work with that. So are some SF units. Unfortunately, the more bureaucratic, larger and unwieldy conventional units (land, sea or air) are generally not capable of the flexibility to do that. A few with enlightened commanders are but they're pretty rare...

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Exactly, and having trying to compete for the support of one aspect (population) of those trinities may be entirely pointless.
    It's pointless only if that aspect is the only aspect being contested. Caution: sports analogy coming: In football (or soccer as we call it in the USA), one must win in all three thirds of the field (defense, midfield, offense) to be victorious in a match.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Exactly, so why do we keep getting the subtext that "Oooh! A'Stan is so complex! Complex insurgency!" When was it in history that all war was not unutterably complex. War is complex. Wow.... who saw that coming
    It's an apology for not being able to "sound bite" a solution to the problem, unlike the following:
    WWII--Stop Nazi/Japanese aggression
    Korea--Stop Commie aggression
    Urgent Futry/Grenada--Save the med students
    DS/DS--Stop Iraqi aggression (or Keep the oil flowing)
    OIF 1--The madman has nukes.

    Tougher to justify:
    Viet Nam--maybe "Save Vietnam or lose Australia" (Doesn't quite roll off the tongue now does it?)
    Just Cause--That Noriega's not playing by our rules
    OEF 1--Nobody flies planes into our buildings and gets away with it. (Again it doesn't quite roll off the tongue)
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
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