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Thread: More killing. Less good deeds

  1. #41
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    If the problem is as you state it, then state the problem, not a simplistic war is war aphorism as Wilf calls it, tautolgy as he so often uses it.

    Wilf,

    When you actually go beyond the bumper sticker, you start to make sense as in:
    Well yes, I'm prone to the odd bumper sticker, but so are many. "The population is the terrain" and "You need a network to fight a network."
    I guess we are not much different from Politicians.

    While I appreciate the positive feedback, I am merely articulating what the last 140 years of irregular warfare has taught us.

    While I reject the idea that there are "Principles of War," I do believe that all forms of warfare are predicated on certain enduring fundamentals, without which, a successful out come is nearly always impossible.

    Here is an additional LINK to the speech concerned. May be useful
    Last edited by William F. Owen; 07-12-2009 at 09:38 AM. Reason: Added Link
    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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    Council Member kingo1rtr's Avatar
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    Default Gelb's View

    Leslie Gelb has a very good one-pager about Robert McNamara in this week's Time. It gives a sharp treatise on the difficulties of McNamara's approach. I highlight because the last paragraph is of contemporary relevance in linking Vietnam to Afghanistan:

    "As long as we're there and willing to fight and die, we won't lose. But in the end, we can't win either unless we realize that it must be their war-a war for the South Vietnamese to fight for their freedom and a war for Afghans to fight for theirs. We can help, but it must be theirs."

    Pertinent after the casualty toll this last week.

    Full article at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...909627,00.html

  3. #43
    Council Member kingo1rtr's Avatar
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    Default Talking to the Taliban

    At some point, if one accepts the premise that victory against the Taliban is unachievable, negotiation must be an option. This article by James Fergusson, now over a year old (15 Jun 08) is of interest:

    "The return of the British Army for the fourth time since the 1830s baffled the mullah, despite my protestations that the British wanted to help secure economic development.

    'You British are clever people,' he said. 't makes no sense.... A clever man does not get bitten by a snake from the same hole twice.' 'Of course,' said the mullah, if we had come unarmed, 'you would have been our guests, just as you are our guest now. If your engineers and agriculture experts had come to us and explained what they were trying to do, we would have protected them with our lives'

    ...... it is time, surely, to start talking seriously to the Taliban. In any case, a negotiated settlement is the likeliest outcome of the struggle, as senior Army officers know full well. 'The ultimate legacy will be a government in Afghanistan, in X years' time, with Taliban representation,' said Brigadier Ed Butler, one of Carleton-Smith's predecessors in Helmand, who announced his resignation a week ago. Historically, there are very few insurgencies that have not ended in negotiation; and even President Karzai who, let it be remembered, supported the Taliban in the regime's earliest days is in favour of reconciliation with the movement's more biddable elements.

    Negotiating with the Taliban is, of course, not something Western liberals would choose to do, but it is surely the lesser of two evils: a realpolitik solution rather than a totally impractical 'ethical' one. The Taliban will never be 'defeated' in the conventional sense. The alternative to dialogue is go on with the war, in which case many more young British soldiers will die, perhaps for nothing. Our strategy will have to change direction. The sooner it does so the better."


    IMO ativities in Anbar in Iraq proved (not conclusively) that bringing some insurgents into the tent must be a part of the process whether concurrently or sequentially. Arguably the same could be said of Northern Ireland. Critical issue is if you can get dialogue at the same time as upping the kinetic tempo - certainly In Basra in 06/07 it did seem to speed participants to the table; especially if done in tandem with a stiffening of host nation security forces' resolve.

  4. #44
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Mike,

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    Using the definitions of COIN found in JP 1-02 and FM 3-24, COIN is an action that a government takes to quell internal rebellion or strife. Along those lines, the only COIN that the US can accomplish is within our internal borders. When we intervene in another countries internal affairs, the matter is inherently difficult as we must pick a side. IMO, this distinction is important, and our failure to address the issue only muddies the waters.
    Yup. This is FID using COIN tactics. More on muddied waters in a minute...

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    In effect, when we intervene, we are picking a side. In Iraq, we back the Shia-heavy government over the Sunnis. In Afghanistan, we back the Karzai-heavy government over the Taliban. Both governments were put in place through elections, and we are hoping that these governments will eventually stabalize internal strife AND share our collective national security interests.
    This is where I think semantics are crucial. In these instances, was it "picking" a side or "creating" a side? Both the Iraqi and Afghan governments were created by external force of arms and then "legitimated" through elections. I put "legitimated" in quotes, because the elections themselves did not allow the defeated governments to run (I doubt that SH would have won, but I'm not sure about the Taliban...), and the elections themselves were imposed.

    Under one set of interpretations, it could be argued that what is being supported are a series of puppet regimes that were created by the US. Now, I'm not arguing for that particular interpretation (although I will mumble it ), but it does have some pretty serious implications. For example, the SOFA agreement with Iraq that led to the drawdown in troop commitments and the pulling out from the urban areas indicates, to me at least, that the GOI is being treated as if it were an independant, legitimate gov't. Good move.

    Afghanistan, OTOH, is much more questionable. For example, the government of the Mayor of Kabul does not appear to have any control over the various foreign militaries, and many local, acting in his country (vide his repeated requests regarding the use of air strikes). Afghanistan is, IMO, the more interesting case, in part because the coalition is there acting under a UN mandate which includes rebuilding the government. It is less of an FID operation than a UN reconstruction operation (similar, at least in legal theory [yes, I'm waiting for JMM to jump in ] to the occupation of Germany and Japan after WW II, but without offical surrenders). So, is it FID? COIN? "War"? What?

    My suspicion is that the semantic confusion as to exactly what is going on is at the heart of many of the problems we are facing there.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
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    http://marctyrrell.com/

  5. #45
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    Default I have

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen;76727[*
    War is War. Read Clausewitz or Thucydides. Irregular Warfare against an insurgent, rebel, criminal, partisan or separatist relies on same basic dynamics of any war. In order to win, you have to break the enemies will to endure.[*]Breaking his will should be done by making him fear for his life or freedom.
    I have read Clauzewitz and Thucydides and a few others. Clausewitz talks about absolute wars, limited wars, and wars among the people and acknowledges that the dynamic of war changes with its level of intensity and killing/destruction of the enemy or his will cannot always be fully achieved in limited wars. Many would argue that the crux of an asymmetric war (see Mack's "Why Big Nations Lose Small Wars") is that they are fighting an unlimited war while we are fighting a limited one. In any case, as your ability to find, fix, and destroy the enemy is limited by internal and external restraints, the value of the political element rises. Even if we get much better at targeting insurgents, we won't be able to kill them completely out of business if we are making insurgents as quickly as we kill them due to ignoring the political element. I don't think this is an anti-Clausewitzian view. War is war in that the brutal nature of war and the elements that factor into it are unchanging. However, the way that war is used to attain one's political ends and the value of the various factors in that war change with the type of war being fought. I also like Delbruck's extension of Clausewitz's thoughts on limited versus absolute war being wars of exhaustion or annihilation. We cannot annihilate the Taliban in the same way that we could annihilate a conventional foe that came out to play.
    Last edited by pjmunson; 07-12-2009 at 01:13 PM. Reason: Edited formatting of quote

  6. #46
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pjmunson View Post
    Many would argue that the crux of an asymmetric war (see Mack's "Why Big Nations Lose Small Wars") is that they are fighting an unlimited war while we are fighting a limited one. In any case, as your ability to find, fix, and destroy the enemy is limited by internal and external restraints, the value of the political element rises. Even if we get much better at targeting insurgents, we won't be able to kill them completely out of business if we are making insurgents as quickly as we kill them due to ignoring the political element.
    ...but the vast majority of small wars have been won this way. That is inflicting so much pain on the enemy that he has given up military means. That is the limit of military power.

    Those who say "Ahh... but the bad guys won by negotiation." Wallah! As long as the military has forced him to seek a resolution by peaceful means, then that is good enough. Military did it's job.

    If what all this is really saying is that the US/NATO is not prepared to resource a military campaign properly and does not have the political will to support it, then by all means seek some other, less effective, form of resolution. Essentially the enemy has already broken our political will to endure, by making us under resource the war.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Chris jM's Avatar
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    Default I'll put my thoughts forward and see what everyone thinks of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    ...but the vast majority of small wars have been won this way. That is inflicting so much pain on the enemy that he has given up military means. That is the limit of military power.

    Those who say "Ahh... but the bad guys won by negotiation." Wallah! As long as the military has forced him to seek a resolution by peaceful means, then that is good enough. Military did it's job.
    My perspective is (and I'll issue my standard disclaimer here - my experience is all in the trees so a view of the forest may be eluding me - hence my interest in SWJ and these forums) that the military serves a mission of greater scope than just the levying of military power. Like it or dislike it, mission creep is firmly entrenched in the NATO/ ABCA armies and we don't have to like it but we do have to work with it.

    Military power is not just about 'inflicting so much pain on the enemy that he has given up military means', it is about either inflicting or threatening to inflict pain so that we convince, force or guide him into a course of action that is in-keeping with what we want.

    In the current COIN environment the military is responsible for the sharp-end of persuasion, both in convincing the Afghan population that military opposition to us is too costly for them and futile, while simultaneously convincing them that 'our way' of security and governance brings greater benefit and prosperity than any alternative. Thus the 'limit' of military power cannot be neatly defined - we have to project power against the TB/ TB factions as you are saying, forcing him to either surrender or negotiative but simultaneously we have to present a viable alternative with the ANSF and development.

    As to saying the military mission's success/ failure ends when the enemy accepts negotiation? Again, I'll put forward an alternative view. Having followed a number of your posts I'm well aware your a passionate Clausewitzian (and yes, I did just invent that term ) so I'll offer the view that with military endeavours being an extension of politics, political undertakings also require ongoing military activities. The military 'job' may be the continuation or threat of future violence to keep the enemy at the negotiating table or to increase the position of strength from which a settlement may be reached. It may also be maintaining sufficient forces and capabilities as deterrance to ensure the gains won.

    Apologies if I am rambling - basically, I see the military mission as extending beyond merely forcing the enemy off the battlefield.

    To put forward my own views, hopefully extending the topic in question and not taking away from it:

    Yes, we do need 'killing' and violence in Afghanistan. Whether more or less I don't know.

    What I do believe is that the military role should be related to security, incorporating both violence and the threat of violence to shape the population and eny in the AO in accordance with the friendly force mission. The military should be able to draw upon sufficient redevelopment resources to facilitate this mission through both the 'clear' and 'hold' phases of COIN to create security, providing the ability to bribe, persuade or convince the holders of power and the general population that our way indeed is a better way than the TB offer. Come the 'build' phase, however, civilian agencies must take the helm and become the driving force. Without doubt a military presence must remain in some sense but the main effort should change.

    Simply put I think the military mission should be gaining consent amongst the population by the 'stick and carrot' application of military power, incorporating the ever-loved 'non-kinetic' effects to provide most of the 'carrot' that we can offer - reconstruction, prosperity, employment, etc. Nation building, reconstruction, capacity building - in my mind that is a civil/ state role that should be undertaken by civil players with the military in support.

    And so ends my rant. The military job isn't in merely getting the enemy to the negotiating table, it's about getting him there while having shaped the environment so any negotiated success can be sustained. If that means the military has to engage in non-military tasks such as reconstruction then so be it - I just believe (and this was my contribution to the discussion) that the military should engage in the clear/ hold, and other actors should drive the build phase.

    I trust I have grasped the essence and meaning of what you were saying William, and haven't debated away from the topic. I'm interested in this topic and accept my perspectives have been shaped more by personal preconceptions than by experience or wisdom, so I'm interested in your response.

    Cheers!
    '...the gods of war are capricious, and boldness often brings better results than reason would predict.'
    Donald Kagan

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    Council Member Chris jM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    If what all this is really saying is that the US/NATO is not prepared to resource a military campaign properly and does not have the political will to support it, then by all means seek some other, less effective, form of resolution. Essentially the enemy has already broken our political will to endure, by making us under resource the war.
    This I completely agree with. I haven't done any research on the forums or elsewhere, but the thought has stayed with me for the last few days about the presence of COIN operations within a larger conflict.

    I've never heard of any opinions saying that the Wermacht's success in Europe (I'm thinking of Yugoslavia and the occupied Soviet territories in particular) as being threatened by insurgency, but rather the resistance movements serving solely to tie down fighting troops.

    Was this due to size? Scale? Ramifications of tactical/operational failure (if the Wermacht did lose one of their insurgencies, did it threaten Nazi Germany's success?). Does it come down to the old tree-falling-in-a-forest adage, if no-one back home is paying any attention to your involvement against an insurgency, is it COIN or merely low-level war?

    I think I may be over-thinking this and the WW2 example is far from intuitive. Still....
    '...the gods of war are capricious, and boldness often brings better results than reason would predict.'
    Donald Kagan

  9. #49
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris jM View Post
    Military power is not just about 'inflicting so much pain on the enemy that he has given up military means', it is about either inflicting or threatening to inflict pain so that we convince, force or guide him into a course of action that is in-keeping with what we want.
    I concur and this is within the bounds of what I am suggesting. We break his will to use military means. Generally, people will not believe in a level of pain, unless it is demonstrated. After that they can be suppressed or coerced into doing what you want.
    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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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris jM View Post
    I've never heard of any opinions saying that the Wermacht's success in Europe (I'm thinking of Yugoslavia and the occupied Soviet territories in particular) as being threatened by insurgency, but rather the resistance movements serving solely to tie down fighting troops.
    I'd skip the Wermacht as a reference point except to show that irregular and regular warfare can exist in the same conflict and that there are irregular conflicts which are nothing to do with insurgencies.

    Point being, no one should fix an understanding of irregular warfare based on Iraq and Afghanistan. There are many other conflicts, with critically different contexts.
    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

  11. #51
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Defeat, secure, then use civil affairs for "hearts & minds"

    The British in Malaya broke the back of the communist insurgency there not between 1952-1954 under the hearts and minds campaign of Templer, but with the use of brute military force combined with Briggs's resettlement program between 1949-1951. Once the insurgency's back was broken, Templer in charge was able to use persuasion of hearts and minds to further things along. This explanation is real and is truthful and has been put forward by a number of leading British scholars over the past few years, most recently in a special issue of the Journal of Strategic Studies that challenges the Malaya Coin Paradigm.
    I agree with logic you first beat and kill the enemy, then you deal in hearts and minds in a major way for the civil affairs follow up. But I do not agree you can expect to do both simultaneously, that just creates "scrambled eggs" which is what we have been doing and results in blowing up new schools, housing, roads, bridges, etc. when we have not first and foremost defeated the terrorists and established long term security control...which security needs to be provided more by national forces and less and less by NATO/allied forces.

    My two cents and I think all histories of warfare at all levels support my "view."

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    You have to do both at the same time. You can't defeat an insurgent force in a matter of months or even a year, so while you're chasing him around, you also have to be showing the populace that you/the government is going to make their life better. If, while you're chasing the insurgents around, people are living their life in ####, they aren't going to support you and they are going to be much more likely to buy into the insurgents' arguments.

    And one of the biggest issues in winning their "hearts and minds", is to show them that once you come through and rid their town of the insurgent, you're not going to go off chasing him miles away, only to have the insurgents quietly return to slash the throats of those who come out in support of the government/COIN force.

    Critically, the image of quickly thrown together schools with cheesy ribbon cutting ceremonies that then end up getting destroyed by a later wave of insurgency is not an example of doing both the right way, it is an example of doing both the wrong way. You kill the insurgent, you keep him away, and you focus on the sorts of stability things that really matter. Patrolling, building security forces, building trust in the security forces, getting people to open up because they believe you're not leaving tomorrow, and providing the basic services and infrastructure that people need to live until their government can begin providing the niceties.

    Raw sewage in the streets or no power = insurgent support. No jobs or no income = guys planting IEDs to feed their families. No mechanism for justice = lawlessness = criminal income and assistance for the insurgency. All of these things if left untreated make your kinetic job more difficult.

    So don't build the school if you have not done the kinetic things to drive the insurgents off in the first place, and still don't build it if you are not going to put forces in place to keep the populace safe. This comes into the resourcing problem mentioned earlier. You are chasing mercury if you do not have the forces to create persistent security.

    Finally, while it would be nice if the military could focus on "purely military" things while others took care of the CA stuff, a reminder that the U.S. military has more bandsmen than the State Department has diplomats should tell us how the budget pie is, and will continue to be cut up. Until we are willing to give up some bandsmen (metaphorically speaking, and the we here is really Congress and the Executive branch budgeteers) then the military is going to have to be willing to do more than purely military tasks.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up That's okay, George, you don't have to bribe me...

    Quote Originally Posted by George L. Singleton View Post
    My two cents and I think all histories of warfare at all levels support my "view."
    Even without your two cents, my history of warfare totally corroborates your views.

    Good Post.

    The pat American solution of throwing money at a problem has led us astray in Foreign Policy and in the COIN arena. I have watched a tremendous amount of waste as our gifts and aid are misused for things not intended, unused due to being totally inappropriate, trashed as not understood or just destroyed because the bad guys could do so. Total security is not required before embarking on projects -- but you better be above 50% surety before you pass out more than food, health and comfort aid.

    We also need to be really careful to whom we give even that...

    Clear and cool couple of hundred miles south of you...

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default How bad processes replicate...

    Quote Originally Posted by pjmunson View Post
    You have to do both at the same time... they aren't going to support you and they are going to be much more likely to buy into the insurgents' arguments.
    But -- as you say below, you have to do both in at least a semi-intelligent manner. Also, the populace isn't buying anything. They are being pulled in two directions and fear always trumps goodies.
    And one of the biggest issues in winning their "hearts and minds", is to show them that once you come through and rid their town of the insurgent, you're not going to go off chasing him miles away, only to have the insurgents quietly return to slash the throats of those who come out in support of the government/COIN force.
    Partly correct. You'll win his grudging tolerance and polite responses. You aren't getting his heart or his mind and will get very little respect. And you're still a foreigner...
    Raw sewage in the streets or no power = insurgent support. No jobs or no income = guys planting IEDs to feed their families. No mechanism for justice = lawlessness = criminal income and assistance for the insurgency. All of these things if left untreated make your kinetic job more difficult.
    True but the three things you named are all civil functions. Military knowledge and capability in all three efforts is in extremely short supply. I do not see that changing. Ergo you're looking at Contractors or civil service folks -- who need a modicum of security before they appear. If you start too soon (see Iraq) you'll have three to five times as much effort and expense due to destruction of your premature efforts (see Iraq).

    All that can be fixed at a cost in time and effort if there is adequate security; if not, you're just sticking fingers in dikes.
    So don't build the school if you have not done the kinetic things to drive the insurgents off in the first place, and still don't build it if you are not going to put forces in place to keep the populace safe. This comes into the resourcing problem mentioned earlier. You are chasing mercury if you do not have the forces to create persistent security.
    That repeats what you said above, I still agree.

    The issue is how do you do that if you do not have enough troops?

    The obvious if unlikely to happen answer is get more troops. An alternative is to pre-empt these things before they get to the cluster stuck damage control level. We may or may not do that. Bad processes replicate because we lazily let them. We didn't learn a thing in Viet Nam because everybody cued on the wrong lessons; what really needed to be done was known but was put in the 'too hard' box by some seriously flawed Flag Officers who allowed that to happen. We appear likely to repeat that error if in a different direction if some have their way.
    Finally, while it would be nice if the military could focus on "purely military" things while others took care of the CA stuff, a reminder that the U.S. military has more bandsmen than the State Department has diplomats should tell us how the budget pie is, and will continue to be cut up. Until we are willing to give up some bandsmen (metaphorically speaking, and the we here is really Congress and the Executive branch budgeteers) then the military is going to have to be willing to do more than purely military tasks.
    Again true. Add to that the fact that such a realignment entails the breaking of Rice Bowls, will be resisted by Congress and many in DoD and it is possible that little change will occur. Yetl, there are some good moves afoot and some of them will appear in Afghanistan over the next few months, others will take longer. After all, we used to ride to work on Elephants, it took a while but we finally parked 'em...

    A past problem was that most reacted with "We can do this, we'll make it work somehow. We'll just do it right next time." I've heard that bit too many times. As one of my pet Generals said "We 'can-do' ourselves to death." His Aide, a bright young Major, was fond of occasionally asking "What flavor of kool-Aid is popular in DC today?"

    Fortunately, this time more people are more connected and more questions are being asked, many are beginning to say the conventional wisdom didn't work; we gotta change things. That is a good thing.

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    Council Member kingo1rtr's Avatar
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    Default Make security not war

    One of the early contentions in this thread was the premise that war is war. I wonder if we ought to be making security in Afghanistan, not war. Why?

    Armies can make war in the classic sense - but what about making security? What role should we play in crisis management, building police, judiciary, prisons, a sense of security - not for ourselves in FOBs but for locals in village and mud hut. IMO these must be done in tandem with the kinetic action - no point in capturing Taliban if there is no system by which to arrest, try and imprison and vitally rehabilitate him - there isn't a day when the war ends and this process starts.

    Yet security is deeply embedded in the 'minds' aspect of COIN - for both the local population [Reassure] and the insurgent [Deter to Prevent]. Death cannot be the only outcome of military intervention. Yet prisons, police and judiciary are the domain of the civilian component, key pillars of societal security. Making security must be a coherent and concurrent strategy alongside kinetic activity.

    To illustrate this I've got an 'arty farty' quote from the play "A Man For All Seasons":

    'William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!'


    My point being if we kick every door down to get at the Taliban (and most of those doors belong to locals), and do get our man, what use is it if we turn round and there is nothing to hand him to, if we have failed to create the security, in doing so failing to win the 'minds' of the local, are we not ultimately failing, simply creating a tactical gain but underpinning operational failure and ultimately strategic stalemate?

    Apologies again for brief amateur foray into high literature - I'm going to lie down now....

  16. #56
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Muddied waters...

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    So, is it FID? COIN? "War"? What?

    My suspicion is that the semantic confusion as to exactly what is going on is at the heart of many of the problems we are facing there.
    Hi Marc,

    I agree with many of your thoughts, and I suppose that on the strategic level (my weakness), our analysis is akin to trying to play historian to present day actions. No doubt, our interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq will redefine modern warfare- call it hybrid, irregular or whatever. In some ways, we'll simply see how it plays out.

    Paradoxically, I honestly believe that there is nothing new under the sun. War is war, and our continued efforts to redefine FID into SFA, COIN into IW, and differentiate between big and small wars, regular and irregular wars, only continues to muddy the waters; however, this distinction or semantics maybe a result of the continued evolution of our economies and modern nation-state system/governance. I suppose it is a chicken and an egg type debate.

    I wish I had an answer. I do not.

    Regardless, on the tactical level (my perceived expertise), the answer is simple. If and when you intervene, you must bring the "hate" to control the populace. These actions may require more than simple population centric "soft" approaches. In many areas, it requires killing the enemy. FM 3-24 refers to it as "stopping the bleeding" or an analogy to a gunshot victim in an emergency room.

    After you have achieved control, then you can bring the "love" of nation-building. I would assert that this is more of a psychological action- a psychologist attempting to mend, adjust, or simply treat a victim of trauma after the incident.

    Again, we'll see how it plays out. I'm cautious to accept that we can re-invent or redefine societies (particularly in a limited time frame). One of the greatest lessons that I've learned in studying small wars, emerging nations, failed and failing states, is the importance of time and patience- not a particular forte of the United States.

    One needs only look at modern day Malaysia, Burma, Vietnam, Guatemala, and the Phillipines.

    With that said, how does this intertwine with the observations/analysis of an anthropologist?

    v/r

    Mike

  17. #57
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingo1rtr View Post
    One of the early contentions in this thread was the premise that war is war. I wonder if we ought to be making security in Afghanistan, not war. Why?
    . . .
    My point being if we kick every door down to get at the Taliban (and most of those doors belong to locals), and do get our man, what use is it if we turn round and there is nothing to hand him to, if we have failed to create the security, in doing so failing to win the 'minds' of the local, are we not ultimately failing, simply creating a tactical gain but underpinning operational failure and ultimately strategic stalemate?
    You have just cited a superb and I think accurate rationale for why these types of operations are best avoided. That means identifying future problems early on, increasing the Corps Diplomatique locally, sending in a few SAS / SF and some Police Assisters on a low key basis and putting USAid or DFID to work BEFORE one needs to send the Army in. Thus hopefully to preclude having to do so.

    Once you send in the Armies, the potential for escalation is significant, that for war almost assured. Armies break things. If they do that well (and they are worthless if they do not), they'll almost certainly do the foreign internal development thing poorly for a number of practical reasons.

    Armies need to be trained to and able to do that mission, no question -- and the US was quite remiss in not being so prepared eight years ago and that has cost us -- but to expect more than a marginal performance and problem free execution from any decent Armies in such missions is deluded.

    So you're spot on.

    Now to get the Politicians aligned...

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    Quote Originally Posted by IntelTrooper View Post
    In my experience, the intel provided by concerned citizens was rarely of much use. And even then, we never charmed them into giving up their insurgent neighbors. I had a lot of lieutenants and squad leaders looking at me all puzzled because I refused to try to recruit sources when we were out having key leader engagements and such. We had more effective means of collection, and I didn't want the locals to associate my face with an American trying to pump them for information all the time, like some kind of armed Jehovah's Witness showing up every week to harass them.
    Intel, I would suggest that you change tactics. If what you're doing isn't working, adjust. Charming or not, I would suggest (without knowing enough of the situation) that the phrase "when we were out having key leader engagements" is the key to your dilemma.

    If you live amoungst the populace (IW, COIN, FID, etc...), employ appropriate measures, then the populace will come to you. In the current environment, we sometimes confuse metrics and words with truth. Moreover, I rarely considered if the citizens were concerned or not. It is simply another muddled term...

    Remember, on the ground level, in the most simplest form, these conflicts have nothing to do with us. You should never have to sell your job. At times, you may have to force it on others, but you should never try to charm. If you have an AO, then the people should determine you to be the key leader, not vice-versa.

    I never went door to door trying to sell anything. My clients came to me. And yes, I'm fully aware of our other means of collection, but living on a FOB or airfield hanger waiting for the silver bullet is not the answer.

    v/r

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeF; 07-13-2009 at 04:37 AM.

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    Sorry to be reductionist again, but I can't help feeling that the argument is best described as follows,

    • Route A: Kill-capture/Focus on the enemy in order to win "hearts and minds"
    • Route B: Win hearts and minds in order to "defeat the insurgency."


    Now I suspect the right path is 60% A with 40% B, but let's not quibble. That is going to be dependant on context. ...but the problem here is What is hearts and minds?

    We keep referring to it like it is a specific definable set of actions. It is not. That is the problem. It's actually a huge raft of some quite good and some very bad ideas, that is waved around as if it is the solution to the problem. Clearly it is not, and never has been.

    I am not against providing humanitarian aid. In fact I consider it essential. Restoring and maintaining electricity and sanitation is also something that needs to be done. Beyond that, I think context and specifics becomes extremely critical.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Sorry to be reductionist again, but I can't help feeling that the argument is best described as follows,

    • Route A: Kill-capture/Focus on the enemy in order to win "hearts and minds"
    • Route B: Win hearts and minds in order to "defeat the insurgency."


    Now I suspect the right path is 60% A with 40% B, but let's not quibble. That is going to be dependant on context. ...but the problem here is What is hearts and minds?

    We keep referring to it like it is a specific definable set of actions. It is not. That is the problem. It's actually a huge raft of some quite good and some very bad ideas, that is waved around as if it is the solution to the problem. Clearly it is not, and never has been.

    I am not against providing humanitarian aid. In fact I consider it essential. Restoring and maintaining electricity and sanitation is also something that needs to be done. Beyond that, I think context and specifics becomes extremely critical.
    Wilf, I'm working my way through this post as I continue to try to understand what the hell Templar was suggesting....

    Considering at times that I cannot even control or win my own heart and mind, I would question...

    Consider the US at this point...Has Obama won the hearts and minds of every US citizen? Nope. Did GW Bush, Clinton, or Bush Sr.? Nope. But, by and large, US citizens do not revolt in political grievances.

    So, let's not quibble.

    I wish that I had some an answers, but I don't.

    At times, I just follow orders

    I'll add one point...A classmate of mine from USMA that now has a best-selling book suggesting that if we would only support good governance in Afghanistan then we could have success....My response is, "Duh, if they had good governance, we would never have been there in the first place."

    I wish it were that simple.

    v/r

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeF; 07-13-2009 at 05:37 AM.

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