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Thread: COIN & The Media (catch all)

  1. #61
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobKing View Post

    In that article, he writes about the Marines fighting in Fallujah, and how they were forced, by the actions of the media, to call a cease-fire resulting in "snatching defeat from victory."
    I think the threat of the entire Iraqi Governing Council to resign and the decision of AMB Bremer/LTG Sanchez all had a wee bit to do with it.

    Most of that was not because of our media - but the reaction generated by Arab media.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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  2. #62
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    Default John Nagl on COIN and Media

    Folks,

    Some may be interested in this Q&A with John Nagl I've just posted. The basic theme is whether counterinsurgency is even possible given:

    a) media-driven society
    b) counterinsurgencies take a long time
    c) counterinsurgencies are very messy

    Nagl says yes. URL is:

    http://bellum.stanfordreview.org/?p=370

    Here's a quote:

    The fact that a think-tank had to publish a statement on war aims seven years into a war is not a ringing endorsement of strategic communications policy to date, but it does not prove that the American people are unwilling to bear the burdens of counterinsurgency campaigns if they are explained as honestly and completely as possible.
    While I agree with him on strategic communication, I'm not sure we are willing to bear the burdens. Of course, this is just based on discussions with average Americans...i.e. my friends.

    Happy to discuss. I imagine this question has come up before.

    Tristan

  3. #63
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    Default Tristan, the "definitive" work

    on Ameirican willingness to bear the burden of war has been done by Peter Feaver of Duke. Although it was written pre-9/11 the Iraq war data seems to bear him out. Sorry, don't have the cite but you should be able to find it pretty easily.

    Cheers

    JohnT
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 02-25-2009 at 03:35 PM. Reason: Added link.

  4. #64
    Council Member politicsbyothermeans's Avatar
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    I wonder what's worse... an honest national dialogue concerning our strategic aims, to include counterinsurgency, or the national apathy we are currently experiencing.

    Oh wait, nevermind.
    In war there is no prize for the runner-up.

  5. #65
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It's not national apathy. It's typical American

    non-interference and allowing people to get on with their job only intruding if they see what looks like a potential screwup or something they don't like.

    The public reaction to these wars is not one bit different than it was to Korea or Viet Nam -- 1/3 supports (President's Party), 1/3 objects (opposition party) and 1/3 swings back and forth depending on how well or bad the war is going.

    Right now we're in a State of flux because for only the second time in our history, we've got a political party transition during a war. The Korean transition was different because there was only one theater and the transition President had campaigned specifically on ending that war. Today, the transition President has said he will end (sort of, not well defined) operations in one theater and ramp up operations (sort of, not well defined) in the other...

    It's going to be interesting to watch the Republicans and their supporters transition to anti-war types. I figure that will take about 18 months to two years. I'm also curious to see how the old 'anti-war' crowd that was adapts to the new regime.

    So Joe Six Pack is waiting to see what happens. It's not apathy.

  6. #66
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    Default Third transition

    from Ken
    Right now we're in a State of flux because for only the second time in our history, we've got a political party transition during a war. The Korean transition was different because there was only one theater and the transition President had campaigned specifically on ending that war.
    I can see why you'd want to forget Vietnam. Same deal as Korea - Nixon's secret plan to end the war, etc.

    Yes, it will be interesting to see if our crystal balls are accurate as to your first two sentences.

    from Ken
    It's going to be interesting to watch the Republicans and their supporters transition to anti-war types. I figure that will take about 18 months to two years. I'm also curious to see how the old 'anti-war' crowd that was adapts to the new regime.
    and, as to the last sentence, I have been watching that - some (majority ?) of the left anti-war crowd are now becoming a bit hawkish; some are feeling betrayed - and their sense of betrayal will grow.

    The old 'anti-war' crowd on the farther right (good daily press links), as they have from the time of Bosnia, will continue to deliver their message, which also often appears in the American Conservative.

    Here is a sample article on dove to hawk conversion.

  7. #67
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Wink Didn't forget. Viet Nam was an aberration in that respect.

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    I can see why you'd want to forget Vietnam. Same deal as Korea - Nixon's secret plan to end the war, etc.
    Viet Nam the war was effectively decided and over when Johnson announced he would not run for reelection.

    Therefor, the election changed no attitudes and thus, in the sense of the political parties attitude toward our wars, Viet Nam was an aberration, By the time of the 1968 election the Democratic Party and its supporters were as opposed -- or perhaps more -- to the war as the Republican side had been.

    The major difference between Viet Nam and all our other wars with respect to the 1/3 rule was the worldwide late 60s 'counterculture revolt' of the Baby Boomers which totally skewed the norm. Their mostly anti-military (anti-draft, actually) 'protests' were far different from previous or later protests about various wars. They were admittedly manipulated by North Viet Nam and US leftists. They also got undue media attention so they impacted the norms of war support or opposition.

    They wanted to "change the system." They did, they became the system -- and they have almost totally screwed it up (check your daily news for details...). Maybe totally. The only thing they learned was 'don't knock the troops;' so in this war, we get "I support the troops but not the War" from a bunch of flakes that would go berserk if their son or daughter decided to be one one of those troops.

    Thank you for allowing my earlier suppressed and possibly over lengthy rant to emerge.

  8. #68
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    Default Vietnam was an aberration in many respects

    Some mild comments - since I pretty much agree with your rant - so, take these in the spirit of "refinements". All quotes are from you.

    Viet Nam the war was effectively decided and over when Johnson announced he would not run for reelection.
    Decided, yes (Johnson blinked hard); but, unfortunately, not over (you know the KIA and WIA totals better than I - and the 1968-1972 iterations of the war did much of the damage that plagued the military thereafter).

    By the time of the 1968 election the Democratic Party and its supporters were as opposed -- or perhaps more -- to the war as the Republican side had been.
    More complex than that. I had feet in both parties at that time; but discussion of the complexities would not be useful to this thread. After the election, most Republicans and some Democrats lined up with Vietnamization; while most Democrats and some Republicans opted for something akin to Get Out Now - so, the rather clearly defined lines in the 1972 election.

    The major difference between Viet Nam and all our other wars ... Baby Boomers .. anti-draft, actually... They wanted to "change the system." They did, they became the system ... so in this war, we get "I support the troops but not the War" from a bunch of flakes that would go berserk if their son or daughter decided to be one of those troops.
    Good rant - get it out of your system.

    There's a Bill Corson story, perhaps apocryphal, where he spoke before a large college audience. He asked all the guys to hold up their draft cards. The audience thought - "Oh goody, we'll have a draft card burning." Not quite, Corson said something along these lines: "Now, most all of your cards have 2-S (student deferment) on them. What I want you all to do is contact your local draft boards and have them changed to 1-A. Then, I want you all to request immediate induction. If you then feel as strongly against this war as all your speakers here have said, you should then refuse induction. You then will be prosecuted and probably serve time in prison. If you really believe what you say, that is how you will do your part to end this war." He got no takers and some booing.

  9. #69
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default We're getting way off thread here for no reason I can ascertain

    Your refinements are noted but they change nothing of consequence to what I said originally -- purposely omitting Viet Nam to avoid just such a diversion -- so what are we doing? Angels? Pin?

    You are BTW incorrect on the 1968-72 iterations caused later problems. That course had been set in 1965. Thank LBJ and RSM plus terribly flawed personnel policies. The 69-72 stuff was simply the sprouting of the 65-68 seeds. The 1975-85 Army was involved with removing the deadwood left.

    Unlike you, I had no feet in either party in 1968 -- or ever; both are totally venal, corrupt and more concerned with self than the nation so I support neither -- but this isn't a political blog so the jury will ignore that statement. I may have missed something here in the States in 1968, I was occupied elsewhere. I was here in 1967 and again in 1969. Our recollections apparently differ and that could be due to that lapse of presence on my part or to residing in different parts of the nation. Regardless, there is no reason for our views to be reconciled, we can differ because the difference is irrelevant to the point -- opponents from both parties...

    Perhaps we can now return to Tristan's thread which was:
    ...The basic theme is whether counterinsurgency is even possible given:

    a) media-driven society
    b) counterinsurgencies take a long time
    c) counterinsurgencies are very messy

    Nagl says yes. ..
    I think the more important question is should we engage in counterinsurgency operations given Tristan's parameters and I would answer no, we should not.

    However, to the question asked, I agree with Nagl, yes, it is possible.

  10. #70
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Agreed

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Perhaps we can now return to Tristan's thread which was:

    I think the more important question is should we engage in counterinsurgency operations given Tristan's parameters and I would answer no, we should not.

    However, to the question asked, I agree with Nagl, yes, it is possible.
    I wonder however what you think of the particular issues that I perceive support it.

    1- Probably most predictable reason we shouldn't do it is because in order to conduct a counterinsurgency other than at home you have to pick sides.
    (Historically we haven't been very adept at doing that, as you and others have often pointed out.)

    2- (This one is more touchy but seems just as relevant) Because in the end a lot of what your doing does have to do with learning how to "control" populations in one form or another, one might say that at some point it gets more notice at home than it should.

    By this I mean people expect SWAT teams to practice breaking down doors, they expect NGO's and Emergency organizations to practice doing what they do. This same population however may see military learning how to do all these things better in a relatively scewed light by the time it filters back through the layers of media, academia, and just personal networks.

    Regardless of the fact that in order to do what we're doing well we have to learn it this still may be a contributing factor to some of the "larger societal grumblings one deals with throughout international and local policy/Path discussions.

    Note: If this seems rather far fetched for Americans to be worried about than fine, instead consider many of the other governments currently involved and how some of their societies may view it in relation with their historical experiences.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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  11. #71
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Flip of the COIN...

    The world started changing in 1989. It's still changing and I suspect it'll be in flux for another 20 to 30 years. That's a lot of potential chaos and all we can do is be alert. We need to be able to do full spectrum and that includes FID and such -- BUT we should avoid it where at all possible for five reasons:

    First, it is expensive, tedious, dirty, hard on people and units all for generally little recompense; the payback has never been worth the effort for us or anyone else involved in third party COIN. That includes the British, French, and South Africans in addition to us and the USSR.

    Secondly, our governmental system does not lead to continuity of effort over an eight to ten year span. The FID effort does not need to last that long but the way we do them -- halfheartedly -- leads to long periods of time.

    Thirdly, that change in the world I cited means, among many other things impacting us, that door kicking a military specialty and default operating mode is passe. Or should be, mostly, anyway. Rough stuff is not encouraged by the World today and if the operation is long term due to the way we have elected (not been forced to; elected...) to do the job the potential for the "more notice at home than it should" (I'd add 'and abroad') and pressure builds. That pressure can act in unforeseen ways as when the 94th Congress cowardly pulled the plug on the logistic support we, the US Government, had promised South Viet Nam; no troops, just ammo and log support.

    Fourth, it's militarily unbalanced and thus creates too many opportunities for the opponent. It does not play to US strength; why should we offer up a glass jaw?

    Fifth, the American public -- an adequate majority anyway -- will support a reasonably sensible war. Given Iraq and the basis on which it was pitched as opposed to the true reason (which would have garnered more support but it would have taken longer and been more work to garner that support), I'd even say they'll support a war that doesn't seem sensible -- until it turns bad. A coin fight by its very nature is almost certain to do that regardless of how well trained your force is unless they are totally dedicated to that mission -- and we cannot afford to do that. The probability of it turning bad means that the operation will create more schisms and angst in the public than is necessary. I'm not that into worrying about John Q. Public but I see no sense in causing unnecessary anxiety and potential problems with voters. If it has to be done, do it -- if there's a better way, then don't do it.

    That said, we can do it, may have to and should certainly train for it and be prepared to execute on order but it would be better to better fund State and USAID, reinstitute the US Information Agency and give them all enough people and money to stop a lot of this stuff before it builds up and we react. I hate the word 'proactive' but we really, really need to get out of the reactive mode.

    There are better ways.

  12. #72
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    TristanAbbey started with a Q&A with John Nagl. The basic theme is whether counterinsurgency is even possible given:

    a) media-driven society
    b) counterinsurgencies take a long time
    c) counterinsurgencies are very messy

    Nagl says yes. URL is: http://bellum.stanfordreview.org/?p=370

    Tristam,

    Back to your question. Yes, a COIN campaign is possible.

    Historically not all insurgencies in countries where we - the West - have had a long term strategic interest have fitted the three themes, e.g. France in Chad, which led to a clash with Libya. Short, sharp, very few "boots" on the ground and almost no (English speaking) media coverage. Oman is another old campaign, sparse UK media coverage and more currently the Phillipines.

    Note Afghanistan was not of strategic interest to the USA / West after the Soviet departure and further back in the Cold War almost out of sight. The use made by AQ led to some interest, with war by remote means i.e. cruise missile attacks, but only became of strategic interest with 9/11. Pakistan has a different history regarding levels of interest and rightly to the fore now.

    How to wage a COIN campaign abroad today? A point covered in many different threads, for example http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=6755 (see Bill Moore's comment there) and Ten Commandments on COIN: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=6543

    Keypoints:

    1) clear national / alliance strategic interest (even if denial of use of space)
    2) use professional staff only (military and non-military)
    3) do not commit conventional, bulky military forces (GPF in US terms)
    4) support local efforts to prevail - here to help, not win for you
    5) admit local "rules" are not your own, declare torture is bad, bad
    6) allow local restrictions on press reporting (no satellite phones)
    7) avoid English speaking countries (so buy up "terps")
    8) never use the word War, Emergency even Troubles far better

    From my armchair.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-26-2009 at 01:07 PM. Reason: Add links

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    The world started changing in 1989. It's still changing and I suspect it'll be in flux for another 20 to 30 years. That's a lot of potential chaos and all we can do is be alert. We need to be able to do full spectrum and that includes FID and such -- BUT we should avoid it where at all possible for five reasons:
    Great comment Ken, I agree! One might suggest the defining characteristic of the next 20-30 years is uncertainty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    TristanAbbey started with a Q&A with John Nagl.

    Keypoints:

    1) clear national / alliance strategic interest (even if denial of use of space)
    2) use professional staff only (military and non-military)
    3) do not commit conventional, bulky military forces (GPF in US terms)
    4) support local efforts to prevail - here to help, not win for you
    5) admit local "rules" are not your own, declare torture is bad, bad
    6) allow local restrictions on press reporting (no satellite phones)
    7) avoid English speaking countries (so buy up "terps")
    8) never use the word War, Emergency even Troubles far better
    Thanks, David -- want to push you a bit on conventional forces. Having armor helps in force protection -- airbases, barracks, and what not, no?

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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    on Ameirican willingness to bear the burden of war has been done by Peter Feaver of Duke. Although it was written pre-9/11 the Iraq war data seems to bear him out. Sorry, don't have the cite but you should be able to find it pretty easily.

    Cheers

    JohnT
    Remember reading about Feaver in the context of the Bush administration's focus on the word "victory" to describe the Iraq strategy. Wikipedia says he worked for both Clinton and Bush admins, but I'm not sure if that's as rare as it appears.

  16. #76
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default If the conclusion is pr appears valid and the research is

    well documented, what difference does it make who a researcher 'worked for?'

    That's like saying a news report on Fox or MSNBC is invalid based on one's ideological viewpoint. I've never understood that logic.

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    Default Never said it was invalid

    In fact, I think his research is probably spot on. If anything, bringing up his bipartisanship is a point in his favor and shows he's interested in applying his academic research to the real world -- and in this case, in support of the war effort.

  18. #78
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default You didn't, nor did I say you did.

    You did make the observation that he may have worked for two administrations (and that is quite common as you alluded) and there are those who do discount reports of all types based on sourcing. My comment was triggered by your noting his perhaps sponsors for no apparent reason and that triggered my non-directional comment that I did not understand those who didn't look at the material rather than the sourcing.

    I still don't

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    Default Alrighty!

    Very rarely will my comments have an ulterior motive. Sometimes things I find interesting and worth mentioning will be common knowledge to others...

  20. #80
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    Default Less armour / GPF: a layman's opinion

    Quote Originally Posted by TristanAbbey View Post
    Thanks, David -- want to push you a bit on conventional forces. Having armor helps in force protection -- airbases, barracks, and what not, no?
    Tristam,

    A mixture of logistics available, imagery of foriegn tanks on patrol for example, preference for engineering - those hexagonal bags are better and cheaper methinks. Once in place GPF appear difficult to remove. Smaller "boots on the ground" is better, I concede not without risks. Not being a military professional very much opinions on impact and politics.

    davidbfpo

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