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Thread: Afghanistan ROE Change

  1. #121
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    In the video I saw we promised the local tribal leader if he quit growing poppies he would receive some financial/economic support. Four years later he has received nothing and his village is starving. That is a good way to drive the village over to the opposition side thus creating as many if not more guerrillas than any Air Strike. If we promise something to somebody we should deliver on it.That is what I would expect the US to do.
    Well that strikes to the heart of the POP-COIN approach. Essentially you turn into a Politician offering stuff that you might only be able to deliver. If I understand the "POP-COIN" approach it aims at creating popular support, via delivering protection. To erode that support all the bad guys have to do is prove you cannot do this, or show you do not deliver on some (not all) of your promises.
    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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  2. #122
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Well that strikes to the heart of the POP-COIN approach. Essentially you turn into a Politician offering stuff that you might only be able to deliver. If I understand the "POP-COIN" approach it aims at creating popular support, via delivering protection. To erode that support all the bad guys have to do is prove you cannot do this, or show you do not deliver on some (not all) of your promises.

    Yep! and this is also how gangs/criminals take over neighborhoods and recruit new members. And then the country's leadership will stand around an wonder how it happened.

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Just wanted to add 2 slides I use on the road occasionally pertinent to this discussion, the first is from FM 3-24, and the second are my caveats about it that aren't in FM 3-24. There's a lot of discussion of detail not in the slide (I use slides as visual aids, not the brief), but I think this crowd gets the idea.

    Niel

    EDIT: The slides display in reverse order. Oops.

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  4. #124
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Just wanted to add 2 slides I use on the road occasionally pertinent to this discussion, the first is from FM 3-24, and the second are my caveats about it that aren't in FM 3-24.
    You nailed it Niel! The Top slide is excellent. First class antidote to all the rubbish washing around. Warfare requires killing. If it doesn't then it isn't warfare.
    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

  5. #125
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Well, I can't speak for Nagle, Kilcullen and the rest of the CNAS gang that is pushing "population-centric" engagement; that is rooted in controlling the populace and building effective governance to resolve the insurgency;

    I can speak to my own version, that is "populace-centric" engagement that is rooted in understanding and supporting the populace, enabling the HN security and service providers to be more effective only in those focused areas that are of greatest concern to the populace as your main effort.

    Supporting effort remains action against the insurgent organization itself, ideally by-with and through HN security forces enabled by the FID force; but unilateral if necessary until such capacity can be built in the HN.

    Really just a shift of focus for your main effort from killing the populace to supporting the populace; and a shift of your supporting effort from going around doing random acts of governance to one of tailored engagement to provide security and defeat the insurgent.

    Personally I think the CNAS model, as I understand it, is too much about "fixing" the government and therefore requires massive time, cost and imported civil expertise and manpower. None of which we possess. Plus it is based on a flawed (IMO) understanding of insurgency that believes that insurgency is caused by inefficient and corrupt government; my study just doesn't bear that theory out. Most insurgencies are rooted in some respect-based perception of poor governance coupled with a perception that there is no legitimate means to resolve it, so the populace resorts to insurgency.

    Bottom line, I guess, is that you can neither kill nor bribe your way to success. Yet killing and provision of services are essential parts of the equation; they just typically have the wrong values associated to them and are used improperly due to a mixing state-based warfare principles into a populace-based conflict situation.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 06-28-2009 at 04:59 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "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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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    All the above gets to SBW (Slapout Based Warfare) which is Targeting is everything. Who you Kill or Bribe is far more important than how you do it.

    Contrary to what many people say about the people being the COG they are not! IMO. They are the Target! that means some organization/group/tribe is acting on them and you are going to have to do something to that gang before the final problem is solved.

    At the same time ineffective/corrupt government can and does create a situation where an insurgency can flourish and it is almost always the Rich Bastards stealing from the people at large that create this problem often under the disguise of a legitimate Government.

  7. #127
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Slap,

    While your theory is largely sound IMO, I would caution that getting the narrative right is incredibly important in such operations.

    "Target" is a word that is much over used and carries horrible baggage in terms of narrative. No one draws much comfort from learning that the 500 year-old church in the middle of their town is a "protected target." All they hear is "target."

    Similarly, if you come to my village and tell me that my people are the "target" of your campaign, you have put yourself in a credibility hole you may never dig your way out of.

    The populace is "the source of all strength and power" in any state; and as such they are prize that is being competed for, and they are the strategic COG of any insurgency. He who gains the support of the populace wins in this grand game of tug of war.
    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)

  8. #128
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Talking What's this "we" stuff...

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    In the video I saw we promised the local tribal leader if he quit growing poppies he would receive some financial/economic support. Four years later he has received nothing and his village is starving. That is a good way to drive the village over to the opposition side thus creating as many if not more guerrillas than any Air Strike. If we promise something to somebody we should deliver on it.That is what I would expect the US to do.
    I hear what you're saying -- but I think there are a few problems with your rationale ,

    Consider:

    'Promised' that? First, realize that to most in the ME and Afghanistan, if you are from a different tribe and you say something will occur, you are deemed to have given an oath -- made a promise -- that something will occur. Totally different standard of morality ( ). Conversely, if you're an American and you know the 'policy' is to provide aid to reduce the Poppy production, you're highly likely to say, in an offhand way, "Quit growing Poppies and we'll provide assistance" (with no knowledge of what that might entail and with knowledge it might not happen on your tour). You made a comment, he heard a promise. Two different cultures not meshing.

    Second, who's the 'we?' Anyone from the American Ambassador to PFC Phugabosky could've said that and even said it in all innocence expecting it to occur. Regardless, all the Afghan knows is that 'the Americans said...' A person who possibly should not have committed the US to a course of action said something or one who could have did and the system did not follow through. All sorts of things could've occurred and we don't know what went down. Given 50K or so Americans wandering around in a nation almost as big as Texas, a State Department totally screwed up by Congressional meddling and not prepared for the job they got body slammed into, it's amazing we've done as well as we have.

    No one knew all those cultural nuances early on; first responders did what they though was right and they did it in the absence of training in what and how to do things. We got smart real quick and told the troops "Never tell them you'll do something." A lot of 'promises' that were not really promises snuck in before we got that word out -- and even today, you and I know there's always the 10%, no doubt in my mind SSG Heebly or CPT Cholmondley are inadvertently making the occasional 'promise.'

    I don't think you can totally fix that...

    Lastly, define the 'US.' Yeah, I expect them to do that also -- deliver on a promise; keep their word. However, having been in that part of the world, I know there are several difficulties with that. A casual comment is not a promise -- and they know that but one will always be used as a 'promise' to get what can be gotten out of it. Haggling is a national sport...

    It is not possible to make all Americans behave in the national interest -- look at your crooks and the politicians (but I repeat myself... ). The US government is a big, huge, diffuse bureaucracy. The left hand often doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Even within the Army -- heck, within a Battalion -- sometime folks don't know what other folks are doing and it takes a lot of effort to get things pulling together. A LOT of effort...

    We have a lot of well intentioned laws to guard tax dollars that aren't helpful to getting projects started or completed, the reviews and checks are significant and a lot of intended things fall afoul of one law or another -- or simply get killed by higher Hq -- due to a law or rule or just the perception that "The Boss doesn't like that stuff..." can pave the road to hell with good intentions that don't happen.

    We didn't promise anything; some guy said.

    Nor can we do it -- the politicians won't let us...

    In short, I totally agree with you philosophically but in reality on the ground, it ain't anywhere near that simple.

  9. #129
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Way to go Bob!

    Two very accurate items that bear repeating:
    ...I think the CNAS model, as I understand it, is too much about "fixing" the government and therefore requires massive time, cost and imported civil expertise and manpower. None of which we possess. Plus it is based on a flawed (IMO) understanding of insurgency that believes that insurgency is caused by inefficient and corrupt government...
    They are on a course to create more problems than we have. Never a good plan.It's a very western-centric and outmoded set of ideas based on misreading or very selective reading of history and ignoring common sense due to excessive academic rigor mortis...
    "Target" is a word that is much over used and carries horrible baggage in terms of narrative. No one draws much comfort from learning that the 500 year-old church in the middle of their town is a "protected target." All they hear is "target."
    Yes!!!

    Thank you.

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    Default Executive summary - 2009 Farah report

    The executive summary of CENTCOM's report on the bombing incident in May, linked by Carl above and whose full .pdf is here, is a good report and well mapped for understanding.

    Before looking at that summary, I should mention Cavguy's course - Counterinsurgency 101 is the first .ppt - which I downloaded (adding his articles - all in their own little folder "Niel Smith COIN") and went through at home in my armchair. I expect his articles supply some of what the actual brief is - and RTFMs cited - adds up to a "Clear, Hold, Build for Dummies" story. Well worthwhile DLing, if you haven't done so. In the process of trying to find the direct url, I managed to wipe out the first version of this post.

    Now, back to the executive summary.

    The basic factual situation was that Astan forces, contrary to Marine advice, executed an un-planned rush up the road into the arms of what amounted to a L-ambush by 3 Taliban "companies" (roughly 100 men each). The Marines had to go to the rescue. In the course of the firefight and medivacs, 4 F-18 strikes hit the long leg of the ambush; and later, 3 B-1 strikes hit its angle near or in the village. The last two strikes were problematic.

    Since the .pdf does not allow cut & paste (at least for me), I've clipped .jpgs of its key points.

    Its Overview concludes that there were no LOAC violations (a conclusion totally supported by the longer rendition of facts); but that the last two B-1 strikes, made in the absence of evidence as to the presence and locations of civilians, were contrary to specific guidance and Commander's intent. In a strict sense, the two strikes were not contrary to ROE (engagement was with a hostile force).

    Whether there was a strict violation of RUF would depend on the tenor of the specific RUF (not given) - was it termed a "must do" or "should do" (a distinction beween the two flag officers' statements, quoted here and here - pointed out to me by PM from Blackjack).

    The F-18 strikes were given a clean bill, but no civilian casualties resulted from them.

    The Assessment states that all of the strikes (including the last 2 B-1 strikes) were justified in their "lawful military nature". But, that the absence of evidence re: civilians (precluding a complete pre-strike assessment of possible collateral damage) was contrary to the policy objective of the "US Government".

    This choice of wording may evince an important point, that the source of the guidance and intent came from the Diplomacy, Policy & Political Ring of the ROE Triad - which I've explained elsewhere - and not from the Operational Requirements & Law Rings.

    The Conclusion - if you take its language literally - would have far reaching consequences for application of proportionality to any situation. Of course, we have no idea of how much of that concept is included in the elephant we haven't yet seen.

    I'll take up the 2008 UN report (linked by Blackjack) later tonite if I have the time.
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  11. #131
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    While we agonize over "was it legal or illegal" based on our laws; the populace is probably more concerned about was it "right or wrong based on their perspective.

    Legal and wrong may keep you out of jail, but it won't help you quell an insurgency.

    The old "we had to destroy the village in order to safe it" line sounds rediculous on its face because it is, regardless of if it was all done within the guidlines provided by the ROE and rule of law.

    One more reason why attacks against the insurgent himself, when not done in clear defense of the force and the populace, must be a supporting effort in the larger COIN effort and not the main effort. When one remains focused on gaining and sustaining the support of the populace as ones main effort it helps commanders to make the right decision.

    Sometimes you just don't take the shot because the potential downside to your main effort far exceeds your potential upside on your supporting effort.

    Or, said another way, never risk strategic failure for a tactical victory unless you have to to protect the populace or your men.
    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 Hey, Bob, haven't talked for a while ....

    I'm not sure where you want to go with the six aphorisms stated. Wherever it is, lay it all out because I'd like to travel along with you on the trip (with or without the dinosaur ).

    Let's just take the first one - which really has two parts:

    [1] While we agonize over "was it legal or illegal" based on our laws; [2] the populace is probably more concerned about was it "right or wrong based on their perspective.
    Point 1: Agonization over "legal or illegal" (add "moral and ethical" ?).

    In the actual case under discussion (Farah), no agonization over "legal or illegal" was necessary. Given its facts, legal under LOAC was a no-brainer.

    I'd suggest that consideration of "legal or illegal" is a starting point in developing any course of action, military or civilian. Normally, most courses of action are no-brainers (go or no go). Some, however, are real brain breakers, which tend to involve morals and ethics as well as legal or illegal.

    Here's a cookie for you and everyone else here.

    Friday, August 17, 2007
    Killed by the rules

    Now that Marcus Luttrell's book "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10" is a national bestseller, maybe Americans are ready to start discussing the core issue his story brings to light: the inverted morality, even insanity, of the American military's rules of engagement (ROE). .....
    [JMM: obviously there are polemics in this article. I suggest looking more to the facts and questioning how would I resolve the legal, moral and ethical issues in my head if that situation came up in my life - not what you would do, because no one can say that for certain.]

    This is an on-its-face simple Point A to Point B problem, but with the shepherd boy in the middle. That complicates things.

    If you had Yale Kamisar for Crim Law & Proc I, you would have spent 6 weeks on the Case of the Speluncean Explorers, and all the degrees and issues surrounding homicide, justified or not. Now, this case is a make up, but there have been actual cases similar to it - e.g., should we kill and eat the cabin boy ?

    Now all of this is more Philosophy than Law - and Practical Layman's Philosophy at that. Here's the course and materials (all in one).

    If you want to know what issues I think about, take the course. It should take a hour to read the materials and the rest of your life to resolve the issues - hint: they are resolved when you die.

    So, we should look at legalities, morals and ethics before getting involved in situations - and, where they are brain busters we should agonize before acting. If you are talking about agonizing after the fact, my position is that is closing the door after the horse has escaped. At best, that is a lesson learned.

    Point 2: The Village's Perception

    I'd posit that all the civilians in the Farah village saw the column advancing up the road as "wrong" (unless they were insane). What civilian wants to be involved in a firefight ? As Cavguy pointed out "Another way to think about it - should the cops level your house because criminals take refuge in it?"

    So, where does that perception take us ? Don't take the column up the road. Which may be a part of the new policy that may be developing, but how do a group of blind men view an elephant ?

    Or:"Never, never, leave the f**king boat." But wait, there was a tiger in the jungle. Was it a man-eater ? Don't know; but it charged us. Should we go back to find out ? Will the tiger kill someone else ? What is our obligation ? "Naw, never leave the f**king boat".

    More than a little philosophy tied up in that scene as they went upriver to visit the crazy SF COL

    OK, enough of a complete devil's advocate. Heck, I'm a civilian; and like talking to animals (it's kind of spiritual), not killing them. I'm about the least physically kinetic person you will ever meet.

    So, for most of your populace-centric mumbo jumbo, I'm on board. But, when I work as a lawyer, I'm one very doctrine-based SOB - and I want to see the practical implementations spelled out.

    And, there are man-eating tigers in this world - and they have to dealt with - to keep them from killing the innocents.

    This took too long - just to answer one sentence.

  13. #133
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Slap,

    While your theory is largely sound IMO, I would caution that getting the narrative right is incredibly important in such operations.

    "Target" is a word that is much over used and carries horrible baggage in terms of narrative. No one draws much comfort from learning that the 500 year-old church in the middle of their town is a "protected target." All they hear is "target."

    Similarly, if you come to my village and tell me that my people are the "target" of your campaign, you have put yourself in a credibility hole you may never dig your way out of.

    The populace is "the source of all strength and power" in any state; and as such they are prize that is being competed for, and they are the strategic COG of any insurgency. He who gains the support of the populace wins in this grand game of tug of war.

    If I come to your village I want talk about targeting anything but the food


    As for the COG I still believe it is the Insurgent Infrastructure as long as that is there the Insurgency can come back and often does as some of your posts have pointed out. This is also why the Strategy of nation building/modernizing/globalization/pop centric may have a Fatal Flaw in it.

    You may be doing nothing more then modernizing the Insurgents Capabilities while he does nothing but remain dormant and reemerge at a better time with better capabilities. I have seen gang ops run out of broken down houses and state of the art convenience stores, the difference one had better capabilities than the other. the similarities the same criminal infrastructure still existed.

    Your Populace based vs Population Centric would deal with this (I think) and is a better way to go IMO. Incidentally I have seen something similar used in LE with remarkably results but I didn't have the propaganda machine to promote it. Plus it was really invented by a 50 year old grandmother with about a 10th grade education so none of the egg heads were interested in something like that. After all COIN and Crime Prevention are the PHd Levels, the fact that it is waged and won by kinder gardeners escapes them

  14. #134
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    In short, I totally agree with you philosophically but in reality on the ground, it ain't anywhere near that simple.

    Well.......you need to fix that sheet,man

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yeah, right...

    If you can figure out how to get rid of Wilsons and FDRs bureaucracy, let us know how to do that and it'll get fixed -- cause that and its aftermath are a big part of the problem.

    'Bout as soon as you get the crime rate in Alabama to zero....

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    Default A Presidential decision,

    as reported by McClatchy:

    Posted on Wednesday, July 1, 2009
    Troops told to stop Taliban pursuit if civilians are at risk
    By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

    KABUL, Afghanistan Beginning Thursday, American soldiers in Afghanistan will be under orders to back down when they're chasing Taliban fighters whenever they think that civilians might be at risk.
    ....
    The order is consistent with what National Security Adviser James L. Jones told McClatchy in Washington Wednesday was President Barack Obama's concern about civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

    "General McChrystal has been given instructions when he left here that, in all military operations, that we redouble our efforts to make sure that innocent loss of life is minimized, with zero being the goal," Jones said, noting that, "In one mishap you can create thousands more terrorists than you had before the mishap."

    The new order, however, is likely to draw criticism from some U.S. troops, many of whom feel the rules that govern how they fight the war already are too restrictive.

    Many soldiers here say they depend on air power and heavy weaponry because there aren't enough ground troops to chase Taliban forces on foot. Jones said no additional ground troops will be sent this year, even though some ground commanders want them.

    "Everybody had their day in court, so to speak, before the president made his decision," he said. "We signed off on the strategy, and now we're in the implementation phase."
    The video clip at the article's top, described as follows:

    This video shows an Apache helicopter opening fire on a column of Taliban fighters. It was released by the Pentagon June 24 to show how air strikes should be handled. Conversation about possible collateral damage sometimes referred to as "collat" begins 39 seconds into the video; there is no sound before that.
    was on FOX last week.

  17. #137
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default COG for what? Defeat of the insurgent, or the insurgency?

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    If I come to your village I want talk about targeting anything but the food


    As for the COG I still believe it is the Insurgent Infrastructure as long as that is there the Insurgency can come back and often does as some of your posts have pointed out. This is also why the Strategy of nation building/modernizing/globalization/pop centric may have a Fatal Flaw in it.

    You may be doing nothing more then modernizing the Insurgents Capabilities while he does nothing but remain dormant and reemerge at a better time with better capabilities. I have seen gang ops run out of broken down houses and state of the art convenience stores, the difference one had better capabilities than the other. the similarities the same criminal infrastructure still existed.

    Your Populace based vs Population Centric would deal with this (I think) and is a better way to go IMO. Incidentally I have seen something similar used in LE with remarkably results but I didn't have the propaganda machine to promote it. Plus it was really invented by a 50 year old grandmother with about a 10th grade education so none of the egg heads were interested in something like that. After all COIN and Crime Prevention are the PHd Levels, the fact that it is waged and won by kinder gardeners escapes them
    I have felt and made the case for several years that the COG for AQ, and other like networked organizations is their network. Disrupt the network, disrupt the organization. ID the nodes that are critical to operations by area, and focus on them. Similarly, to pick your HVIs, pick the ones critical to making those nodes function, not just the ones the intel guys say are senior in the chain of command.

    To defeat the insurgency however, is another matter. Here the COG is the populace, and their support is essential to the greater victory. Both must be addressed concurrently, but dealing with the insurgent is a supporting effort while addressing the populace the main. That does not mean that one must not at times address the supporting effort first in order to create conditions that allow addressing the populace, but it is still the supporting effort.
    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)

  18. #138
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    To defeat the insurgency however, is another matter. Here the COG is the populace, and their support is essential to the greater victory. Both must be addressed concurrently, but dealing with the insurgent is a supporting effort while addressing the populace the main. That does not mean that one must not at times address the supporting effort first in order to create conditions that allow addressing the populace, but it is still the supporting effort.
    I am tracking now.

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    New ROE seem to be working.


    Quote Originally Posted by CNN
    Meanwhile, a U.S. military official told CNN that its forces are involved in a standoff with insurgents in the south of the country near the Helmand River.

    He said U.S. Marines began taking fire from insurgents in the town of Khan Neshin, before they ran into a multi-roomed compound.

    Unsure of whether civilians were inside the compound, they had an interpreter talk to the insurgents, the official said. After some time, a number of women and children left the compound.

    When asked, the insurgents denied any more civilians were inside, the official said, but the U.S. soldiers held their fire anyway. At about 7:30 a.m. ET, in the midst of the standoff, another group of women and children emerged from the compound, the official said.

    As of 8 a.m. ET, the Marines were holding all fire and waiting out the insurgents, the official said.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

  20. #140
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    In all seriousness, I wonder if there will be a Lysistrata effect?
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

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