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Thread: Center of Gravity Construct

  1. #121
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Jed, what are your thoghts on this article? For that matter anybody else that would like to jump in here?

  2. #122
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Slap

    For starters, many--myself included--see the people as the objective not as a COG. We seek to secure and win over the population, undermining the insurgents' links with them. In such a case, the linkages between the insurgent and the population could be called a COG, especially linkages built on causes. But this article is built on a fundamental misinterpretation of the very ideas the author disputes. In any case, I see insurgency and counter insurgency to be entirely too complex to be a case of finding/identfying a COG, proclaiming a Guiness "Brilliant!", and winning the war.

    Best

    Tom

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    Default Deeply Flawed

    slapout if you do a search on this site you'll find numerous debates on the COG, and I for one think the concept applied to irregular warfare as the author described it is deeply flawed. Our officers would be better served at CGSC if they spent their intellectual energy on understanding the multiple dynamics of an insurgency, instead of trying to dumb the problem down to one COG each at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war.

    I think the only point I agree on with the author is that the people are not a COG; however, I do not think the "cause" is a COG either. The author falls under the school that there is only one COG at the strategic level, one at the operational level, and one at the tactical level (this is a school of thought that somehow has become perceived to be fact by many CGSC students, which makes me wonder if they're getting educated or indoctrinated).

    For argument's sake let's assume there is only one COG at each level.

    The author's claim that the cause is the COG at the strategic level only applies to revolutionary type insurgencies. There are several causes for each insurgent group in Iraq, and there are several different insurgent groups. Exactly what cause is the COG? And if the COG's are diametrically opposed, doesn't addressing one inflame the other? I think this concept is of little value in most modern insurgencies.

    If we use mirror analysis (assume the enemy is like us), you can almost make the COG theory work, but it doesn't account for Black Swans, which I owe some examples of later. The fact of the matter is that you can't dumb down complex problems to one COG. I also think it is a mistake to break down the levels of war to strategic, operational, and tactical in irregular warfare. The enemy is always fighting at the strategic level, they're not trying to win battles, but to win the war. I won't rant anymore, I think you know where I stand.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 07-04-2007 at 03:07 PM. Reason: grammar, and add a critical not after people

  4. #124
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default Rant Some More

    Bill,Tom, I have read Galula and unless my memory is that bad he stated that there were 4! primary factors.
    1-A cause
    2-Weak government.
    3-Terrain
    4-Outside help.
    That would indicate at least four COG's right from the start, but the author writes as if the other 3 do not exist. I thought that was rather mis-leading.
    I definitely agree that the enemy fights at the strategic level and he is damn good at it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Bill,Tom, I have read Galula and unless my memory is that bad he stated that there were 4! primary factors.
    1-A cause
    2-Weak government.
    3-Terrain
    4-Outside help.
    That would indicate at least four COG's right from the start, but the author writes as if the other 3 do not exist. I thought that was rather mis-leading.
    I definitely agree that the enemy fights at the strategic level and he is damn good at it.
    External help is nto really necessary, the rest of what you write just reminds us of how poorly the concept is applicable to the problem.
    Schwerpunkt/CoG was defined and developed for other applications and should not be raped into completely ill-suited areas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Slap

    For starters, many--myself included--see the people as the objective not as a COG. We seek to secure and win over the population, undermining the insurgents' links with them.
    My 2-cents:

    If asked the question, and forced to offer a simple, quip of an answer, I would have offered "legitimacy and relevance" as the primary CoG. However, your point of no simple answer is spot on. Many groups continue to struggle (though with diminished effectiveness) with only waning legitimacy.

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Bill,Tom, I have read Galula and unless my memory is that bad he stated that there were 4! primary factors.
    1-A cause
    2-Weak government.
    3-Terrain
    4-Outside help.
    That would indicate at least four COG's right from the start, but the author writes as if the other 3 do not exist. I thought that was rather mis-leading.
    I definitely agree that the enemy fights at the strategic level and he is damn good at it.
    Rather reminds me of the Leites/Wolf COIN model, circa 1970 (or so).
    Last edited by ilots; 07-04-2007 at 05:22 PM.

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    Default Military Review: Center-of-Gravity Analysis Articles

    Military Review, Sep-Oct 07: Linking Doctrine to Action: A New COIN Center-of-Gravity Analysis
    Just as there is no one weapon that guarantees superiority in conventional warfare, there is no silver bullet when it comes to counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency, provides a firm doctrinal foundation, as corroborated in Battle Command Knowledge System chat rooms, training at the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center and the Taji Counterinsurgency Center for Excellence, and field experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even so, there is still a gap between doctrine and tactical results in COIN warfare. This article seeks to fill that gap by introducing what we believe is a useful planning tool: the COIN center of gravity (COG) analysis, integrated as the culminating step of COIN intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB). COIN COG analysis translates theory into practice from the bottom up, exposing insurgent lines of operation (LOOs) and suggesting possible counters to them. Rather than thrusting objectives from the top down that may or may not apply to a given situation, it balances counterinsurgent efforts and provides metrics. Links between COIN IPB and the root causes of a conflict, and between COIN COG analysis and tactical actions, are analyzed to figure out how to preempt insurgent activity instead of merely reacting to it. The process approaches COIN from the dual perspective of the nature of the population and the nature of the insurgent, not from the perspective of the counterinsurgent.....

  8. #128
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    Second COG Article, same issue of Military Review:

    A Logical Method for Center-of-Gravity Analysis
    Largely due to its enigmatic nature, the center of gravity (COG) determination process has always been considered more of an art than a science. But even art has rules and structures that can turn chaotic sounds into language and language into poetry. Currently, the COG determination process described in joint doctrine lacks the clear rules and structure that might rationalize, discipline, and therefore improve campaign planning. Joint doctrine only describes the COG construct and its utility to military planning. This is unfortunate because the value of this conceptual tool cannot be overstated. Joint Pub 5-0, Joint Operational Planning, clearly states the critical role of COG analysis: “One of the most important tasks confronting the JFC’s [joint force commander’s] staff in the operational design process is the identification of friendly and adversary COGs.” It is the “most important task” because “a faulty conclusion resulting from a poor or hasty analysis can have very serious consequences, such as [impairing] the ability to achieve strategic and operational objectives at an acceptable cost.”

    This paper explores using the strategic framework of ends, ways, and means; a validation test; and a clear COG terminology to provide a logical and disciplined method for COG determination. In military planning, determining the center of gravity is too important to leave to guesswork; therefore, any technique or method that improves COG determination is certainly worth exploring. My experience as an instructor at the School of Advanced Military Studies and the U.S. Army War College, combined with recent operational experience as a strategist with U.S. Central Command and Multi-national Forces-Iraq, has convinced me that there must be a better process for determining a center of gravity than the current guess-and-debate method....

  9. #129
    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Cog Discussion Crosses Boundaries

    A QUICK SEARCH OF THE THREADS SHOWS THE COG HAS CROSSED INTO ALMOST EVERY DISCUSSION LINE IN THE SWC. JUST AS THE DISCUSSION OF COG HAS PERMEATED US MILITARY SCHOOL HOUSES.

    Social Contagion theory ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    Rob Thornton 12 Hours Ago
    by Tom OC 33 1,084 Social Sciences, Moral, and Religious
    Sticky: Tell Us About You #2... ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    SWCAdmin 13 Hours Ago
    by sgmgrumpy 285 8,047 Tell Us About You
    U.S. Africa Command? ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    Tom Odom 1 Day Ago
    by kwtusn 106 7,365 Africa
    In COIN how do we describe the relationship of the levels of war? ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    Rob Thornton 2 Days Ago
    by slapout9 76 1,376 Futurists & Theorists
    What would you do/say? ( 1 2 3)
    Strategic LT 3 Days Ago
    by redbullets 25 781 Media & Information Warriors
    Groups: Bin Laden plans video on 9/11 ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    Sarajevo071 3 Days Ago
    by Ken White 31 579 Adversary / Threat
    Army Officer Accuses Generals of 'Intellectual and Moral Failures' ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    SWJED 2 Weeks Ago
    by jonSlack 238 14,263 Military - Other
    Memetics in the battle of ideas? ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    JD 2 Weeks Ago
    by JD 38 862 Media & Information Warriors
    Good Anthropology, Bad History: The Cultural Turn in Studying War ( 1 2 3)
    Jedburgh 07-26-2007
    by marct 22 821 Social Sciences, Moral, and Religious
    Is time really on the side of Insurgents? ( 1 2)
    Brian Gellman 07-12-2007
    by Abu Buckwheat 16 487 Futurists & Theorists
    Who Will Sound The Call to Service? ( 1 2)
    SWJED 07-05-2007
    by 120mm 14 831 Politics In the Rear
    What is a Guerilla's Center of Gravity? ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    TROUFION 07-04-2007
    by ilots 38 1,133 Futurists & Theorists
    Do we require a victory or a Triumph? ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    Rob Thornton 06-28-2007
    by Ray 47 1,001 International Politics
    Iran: Open Thread Until H-Hour... ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    SWJED 06-24-2007
    by Tom Odom 92 5,056 Middle East
    Iraq - the Modern Equivalent of the Spanish Civil War ( 1 2)
    SWJED 06-20-2007
    by goesh 16 282 Brave New War Roundtable
    A Thin Blue Line in the Sand ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    SWJED 06-18-2007
    by Doug Ollivant 35 775 US Policy, Interest, and Endgame
    Ralph Peters on Dreams & Islam
    Rob Thornton 06-14-2007
    by Steve Blair 3 320 Global Issues & Threats
    Kinetic vs Empathetic Warfare ( 1 2)
    TROUFION 06-13-2007
    by TROUFION 18 769 Social Sciences, Moral, and Religious
    Googleing COIN in Iraq
    Rob Thornton 06-07-2007
    by goesh 5 347 The Information War
    Future Peer Competitor? ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)
    Granite_State 06-07-2007
    by goesh 48 1,194 Global Issues & Threats
    Strategic Directions in Iraq - and the idea of Cultural Identity as a CoG ( 1 2 3)
    Rob Thornton 06-07-2007
    by wm 21 568 US Policy, Interest, and Endgame
    Theoretical Constructs
    Martin 10-18-2006
    by Martin 7 3 Social Sciences, Moral, and Religious

  10. #130
    Council Member pvebber's Avatar
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    One of the biggest problems with COG related analysis at the deckplates level is the misunderstanding or COG and Critical vulnerability among a lot of planners. Even "decision makers". Several times I've heard Flad level commanders criticize plans for "not directly attacking the COG". Then he gets back a COA that attacks a CV, but has no discussion of the COG.

    COGs are leverged or exploited, CV's are attacked or defended. COGs increasingly exist in the moral and cognitive domains, CVs in the physical - where our prefered kinetic capabilities reside.

    Even when you find a true COG there is often a "so now what do I do with it" since the leveraging and exploiting of COGs tend to be in the strategic domain, vice tactical.

    This is an important educational issue - you can't get too much practice doing the planning analysis of COGs CV, etc, and a little bit can give you a false sense of expertise...
    "All models are wrong, but some are useful"

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  11. #131
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pvebber View Post
    COGs are leverged or exploited, CV's are attacked or defended. COGs increasingly exist in the moral and cognitive domains, CVs in the physical - where our prefered kinetic capabilities reside.

    Absolutely agree..Col. Warden defined them as the point of GREATEST leverage on the system.

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    Kind of thinking out loud here, so flame away as appropriate and required:

    1. What if there is no COG in a conflict? Seems to me that searching for a COG is somewhat of a silver bullet scenario where if eliminate, destroy or otherwise a neutralize a COG = success. With so many different groups of people in the fights in the Ghan and Iraq, I don't think a single COG is definable. The Shi'a are broken into many sub-groups, as are the Sunni, perhaps the Kurds. Add religious and tribal differences to the mix as well. The same applies to Afghanistan where Pashtun, Uzbek, Hazara, etc...

    So if there are numerous groups in play, there probably are multiple COG's as well. Identifying these are tough to say the least, and one while COG may very well prove to be the correct one for one group, it may be the antithesis to another.

    I think we may be in a scenario where an "umbrella COG" does not exist, and in fact we may have an almost endless series of "smaller" COG's that apply to whatever group of people we deem an enemy (how do we destroy/neutralize,flip them) neutrals (how do we get them to stay neutral, avoid them flipping to the enemy, flip them towards us) and the friendlies (how to we keep them friendly).

    2. COG's, I think, must transcend physical/kinetic operations. Almost a no-brainer.

    3. I think this also applies to OODA Loops/Decision cycles. One group can act so slowly while another spins so quickly that we do not see the trees for the forest. Requires superb SA, OPSEC and patience.

    4. The more diverse the group of people within the boundaries of a nation-state, the more potential COG's. Agree that many COG's enter the strategic/political level very quickly.

    5. Strategic and tactical levels must be integrated - been reading LTG Chiarelli's article this morning at great length, and agree 100% that the traditional "prepare two levels up and down" is obselete. Would also perhaps take this to the grand strategic level - people must fight for something that they believe in.

    Again, just some random musings and thoughts off the top of the skull.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

  13. #133
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ski View Post
    Kind of thinking out loud here, so flame away as appropriate and required:

    1. What if there is no COG in a conflict? Seems to me that searching for a COG is somewhat of a silver bullet scenario where if eliminate, destroy or otherwise a neutralize a COG = success. With so many different groups of people in the fights in the Ghan and Iraq, I don't think a single COG is definable. The Shi'a are broken into many sub-groups, as are the Sunni, perhaps the Kurds. Add religious and tribal differences to the mix as well. The same applies to Afghanistan where Pashtun, Uzbek, Hazara, etc...

    So if there are numerous groups in play, there probably are multiple COG's as well. Identifying these are tough to say the least, and one while COG may very well prove to be the correct one for one group, it may be the antithesis to another.

    I think we may be in a scenario where an "umbrella COG" does not exist, and in fact we may have an almost endless series of "smaller" COG's that apply to whatever group of people we deem an enemy (how do we destroy/neutralize,flip them) neutrals (how do we get them to stay neutral, avoid them flipping to the enemy, flip them towards us) and the friendlies (how to we keep them friendly).


    Again, just some random musings and thoughts off the top of the skull.

    Outstanding!!! This is exactly why I believe EBO is more applicable to COIN warfare than most people give it credit for.
    1- if no COG exists create one!!!!and this may be the greatest opportunity that their is to defeat an insurgency.

    2-In a basic 5 rings analysis of COG's there is usually a minimum of 25 to 75 targets you will need to effect in order to change the system.


    Have to leave now and go conduct EBO on my lawn mower.

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    Well, I don't know a great deal about EBO, but I would say that any kind of "effects based operations" seems to me to be a stretch when dealing with people.

    You are basically dealing with human psychology, culture, mores, ethics, traditions and the like. Trying to change any of them by force, coercion or any other method will alienate some percentage of them because they simply won't change. And trying to force them to change seems to be some what dictatorial in my mind.

    It becomes even more difficult when you have a different set of culture, mores, ethics, traditions and the like from the society you are working in. You become seen as an intruder at best.

    This is why I thought the whole line of "bringing democracy" to Iraq was going to fail. Change has to come from within the different societies that have lived and existed in the area for generations.

    Now - we can try and change them slowly, and with very subtle nuances, but having 160,000 troops in the country makes the job that much more difficult. But in the end run, it doesn't really matter if "effects based operations" or any other method of warfare is conducted - the people themselves must want to change.




    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Outstanding!!! This is exactly why I believe EBO is more applicable to COIN warfare than most people give it credit for.
    1- if no COG exists create one!!!!and this may be the greatest opportunity that their is to defeat an insurgency.

    2-In a basic 5 rings analysis of COG's there is usually a minimum of 25 to 75 targets you will need to effect in order to change the system.


    Have to leave now and go conduct EBO on my lawn mower.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

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  15. #135
    Council Member pvebber's Avatar
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    1- if no COG exists create one!!!!and this may be the greatest opportunity that their is to defeat an insurgency.
    Can you create a COG in an enemy system? Or is this a case of you recognising and exploiting the enemy COG when he may not have done his homework to figure out how to leverage it himself?...

    (aside: Something I fear we suffer from far more than our adversaries...Where do we articulate our COGs and promote an understanding of them publically? Does it make sense for an open society to keep them secret? Particularly if they tend to relate to the openness of our society?)

    ...Or is this represenative of that desire to "directly attack the COG?"

    2-In a basic 5 rings analysis of COG's there is usually a minimum of 25 to 75 targets you will need to effect in order to change the system.
    Not to be too pedantic (but likely anyway ...) The targets are not the COG, but nodes that make up a CV, the attack of which can change a system which affects the adversary's ability to exploit his COG. I'm not sure a "System can be a COG" - I have to think about that...

    Also, Only when you are dealing with a "complicated" but fundamentally "Simple" physical domain systems.

    (Aside: As opposed to a complex system in the adative, emergent behavior sense - simple systems can be extremely complicated systems of physical componants - even with some "comples" subsystem behaviors concealed in "black boxes", but don't exhibit adaptive emergent behaviors at the macro scale - like power grids - they have a "black box" of repair capbility that is somewhat emergent and adaptive, but the overall power grid is a physically grounded, very complicated "simple system".)

    The 5 -rings model applies to hierarchical "nation-state" type adversaries with predominantly physical CVs organized in "simple" system domains (the rings). Targets in the sense you use are the result of a functional analysis or a particular rings CVs into discrete people, places, or things - a physical domain focused view of the problem.

    Are AQ-like entities amenable to "5-rings analysis"? - I would argue not in the strict sense, but may have a different "N-rings analysis" we may not have synthsized yet. Though likely not as phyiscial-domain centric as we would like.

    An interesting related papaper: "Five Rings or a Loop in 4GW"
    Last edited by Steve Blair; 09-13-2007 at 04:42 PM. Reason: fixed link
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  16. #136
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Ski, Ring #4 Population groups deals with just the subject you are talking about, how to effect groups with non-lethal means. Largely through what we are calling IO operations. Also Col. Warden was on TV when we were just talking invading Iraq when he made the suggestion that we use "Madison Avenue" to conduct IO operations because they would probably be better at it as far as figuring out an Islamic response.


    [B]pvebber,[/B
    1- I would offer that an insurgency is a prime example of creating a COG within a system. From their viewpoint the countries government would be an enemy system and they are creating an insurgency or COG within that system.


    2-I agree with you about the terminology which is becoming more confusing than ever, targets are also persons,places,or things and so are COG's. When the new Joint Publication on an Effects Based approach came out they it made it more complicated by calling targets "Nodes" both have the same definition.



    Also I just heard on the news that AQI has killed the main Sheik that was helping us in An bar province. That is a ring #1 Leadership target. Not a good day for our side.

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    I don't think IO amounts to a hill of beans for the most part. Trying to change other's people cultures is a Sysphian task and wars have been fought over much less.

    I read some of the Checkmate stuff for a Master's degree paper I wrote a few weeks ago. I think the most successful part of that particular "EBO" was the fact that it played right to the USAF's founding myth - that it is a strategic bombing force. IIRC, the #5 ring was the enemy troop concentrations...so we ignored TACAIR, in the hope that the Iraqi people would get pissed off and rise against Saddam. Obviously, it didn't, and history would have shown that the strategic bombing campaigns almost always result in the people being bombed having more anger and resolve than the if they were left alone. Outside of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, and maybe Kosovo (there were other factors at play there), strategic bombing has never brought a country to submission, regime change, etc...

    I remain skeptical of EBO in the physical realm of warfare, and I think (again, I realize my limitations with little in depth study of EBO) it would very hazardous to one's health if we tried to use it to change human behavior.


    [QUOTE=slapout9;25815]Ski, Ring #4 Population groups deals with just the subject you are talking about, how to effect groups with non-lethal means. Largely through what we are calling IO operations. Also Col. Warden was on TV when we were just talking invading Iraq when he made the suggestion that we use "Madison Avenue" to conduct IO operations because they would probably be better at it as far as figuring out an Islamic response.

    QUOTE]
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  18. #138
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Ski I would agree with you about how IO operations are currently being conducted, but that doesn't mean we should not be learning how to use them. Are enemies are very good at it, and I think we could be if we work on it. This doesn't mean changing a culture but it dose mean changing the IO environment to allow us to achieve our objective.

    EBO has nothing to do with bombing (I agree that the Air Force thinks that it does) EBO as it was first conceived was a process used to develop a strategy to win, this is the part that is forgotten and has been poorly applied in many ways especially as you point out when used by people with a bomber mentality.

    I was part of how this process was used in Law Enforcement and although I can not talk about most of it(it was repeated in several cities across the US) I think it shows how flexible and adaptable the process is when it is used how it was meant to be used and not just as some type of bombing theory.


    I am trying to get permission to post some things about the early Warden models of EBO which would help show the differance and how it has little to do with Startegic Bombing as it is most often associated.

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    COGs always exist. Issue is defining them correctly. Haven't digested the new Military Review referenced on SWJ homepage, but it contains at least two articles on identifying COGs. I've heard Mark Ullrich's pitch before and it bears close examination.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    COGs always exist. Issue is defining them correctly. Haven't digested the new Military Review referenced on SWJ homepage, but it contains at least two articles on identifying COGs. I've heard Mark Ullrich's pitch before and it bears close examination.
    Mark's piece isn't on COG in the traditional sense, although it is similar. We're really describing it as a new way of doing COIN IPB. I'll see if I can get Mark on to discuss his article.
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