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Thread: Ill-Defined Problem Sets: A Discussion

  1. #1
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Ill-Defined Problem Sets: A Discussion

    After re-reading and thinking through the practical application of the complex problems a commander must deal with on the ground, I chose four exercises for discussion. I have either dealt with directly or been involved with each type of problem set, and there is no immediate solution. Additionally, from what I've read in past literature, there is not much guidance towards these issues. The intent is for council members to explain how they would deal with each problem. If there is interest, I will explain my solutions down the road.

    Examples:

    1. Corrupt governance.
    2. Interdicting in denied areas, shadow govt's, or enemy safehavens.
    3. Coping with corrupt police or army counter-parts.
    4. Reconciling greivances on the tribal level.

    Further explained...

    1. Corrupt governance...As introduced by MarcT

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Let me take an example of this. Let's suppose that a critical "problem" in gaining support for an HN government centres around a local perception held by the populace that the governor of the area is "corrupt" (in quotes to indicate a level of corruption beyond the culturally accepted limit). Let us further suppose, for the sake of this example, that that condition is true. Gaining the support of the local populace for the HN "government" will be increasingly difficult as the depredations of the local governor go on unchecked. The local governor is, in effect, one of the greatest recruiting tools for the insurgents in the area. How are you going to define the problem in a manner that would allow a local (foreign) commander to "solve" it?
    2. Interdicting in denied areas, shadow govt's, or enemy safehavens.

    The majority of literature suggests that one should bypass or ignore these areas during the initial clearance phases. I used to agree; however, after my last tour working mostly in these types of areas, I found the secondary and tertiary effects to be overwhelming towards the greater goal of resurrecting governance and building support for the host nation. For example, if the enemy ventures on a coercion campaign of beheadings, they are likely to kill the key sheiks, religious leaders, and other spheres of influence. Furthermore, the educated middle class typically chooses to flee. What is left is a headless society. So what do you do? If you attack early on into an enemy's stronghold, then you will likely take high casualties. If you wait, then the society could be significantly traumatized and take years or generations to mend.

    3. Coping with corrupt police or army counter-parts.

    If you're counterparts are part of the problem (i.e. Shias seeking revenge towards Sunnis or vice-versa), then your actions are extremely limited and there may be a negative reaction for every action you take (one step foward and two steps back). What do you do?

    4. Reconciling greivances on the tribal level.

    So, you've successfully neutralized the local insurgency in your AO. Good work. Now, you're dealing with tribal issues dating back for centuries. The security you've facilitated is temporary and mostly based on the fact that you and your men are the baddest sheiks on the block. Now, what do you do?

    I hope these are helpful, and I look foward to y'alls discussion

    v/r

    Mike

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    Default Which roles should we play ?

    Mike,

    Great sequence of four questions, but which of the following four roles should we play:

    1. Political officer of the incumbant goverenment, focused on the Political Struggle.

    2. Military officer of the incumbant goverenment, focused on the Military Struggle.

    3. Political officer of the assisting goverenment, focused on the Political Struggle.

    4. Military officer of the assisting goverenment, focused on the Military Struggle.

    How one deals with a problem could differ significantly based on Where am I ? and What am I ?

    So, is this really a 16-sided exercise set ?

    Regards

    Mike

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    So, is this really a 16-sided exercise set ?
    Why limit it? What about the insurgent groups? What about civilian, sub-state groups such as a tribal lineage?

    I'm not trying to be difficult here, well, more than I usually am , but one of the dangers of dealing with simulations lies in the rules of the game / problem-set that define who may and may not be actors.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
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    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Disagreement over concept and plans for corrpution control/eradication

    Mike:

    In Afghanistan and Pakistan,where in years past I lived and served, the practice of "backshees" [my phonetic spelling???] is that all, everyone, gets pay offs and kick backs for and from whatever they do vocationally.

    This said, and it is true, how do you or we differentiate between everyday grassroots corruption and high level corruption, which corruption is true on all sides, the non-Taliban governance officials as well as the Taliban?

    More critique, disagreement, whatever on this topic could be helpful to one and all as the advertised effort to clean up corruption to me seems highly unlikely to be achievable due to these folks hundreds of years of precedent of instutitionalized corruption, corruption as defined by a Westerner, job security and old age pension set asides as defined by locals over there from bottom to top.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    After re-reading and thinking through the practical application of the complex problems a commander must deal with on the ground, I chose four exercises for discussion. I have either dealt with directly or been involved with each type of problem set, and there is no immediate solution. Additionally, from what I've read in past literature, there is not much guidance towards these issues. The intent is for council members to explain how they would deal with each problem. If there is interest, I will explain my solutions down the road.

    Examples:

    1. Corrupt governance.
    2. Interdicting in denied areas, shadow govt's, or enemy safehavens.
    3. Coping with corrupt police or army counter-parts.
    4. Reconciling greivances on the tribal level.

    Further explained...

    1. Corrupt governance...As introduced by MarcT



    2. Interdicting in denied areas, shadow govt's, or enemy safehavens.

    The majority of literature suggests that one should bypass or ignore these areas during the initial clearance phases. I used to agree; however, after my last tour working mostly in these types of areas, I found the secondary and tertiary effects to be overwhelming towards the greater goal of resurrecting governance and building support for the host nation. For example, if the enemy ventures on a coercion campaign of beheadings, they are likely to kill the key sheiks, religious leaders, and other spheres of influence. Furthermore, the educated middle class typically chooses to flee. What is left is a headless society. So what do you do? If you attack early on into an enemy's stronghold, then you will likely take high casualties. If you wait, then the society could be significantly traumatized and take years or generations to mend.

    3. Coping with corrupt police or army counter-parts.

    If you're counterparts are part of the problem (i.e. Shias seeking revenge towards Sunnis or vice-versa), then your actions are extremely limited and there may be a negative reaction for every action you take (one step foward and two steps back). What do you do?

    4. Reconciling greivances on the tribal level.

    So, you've successfully neutralized the local insurgency in your AO. Good work. Now, you're dealing with tribal issues dating back for centuries. The security you've facilitated is temporary and mostly based on the fact that you and your men are the baddest sheiks on the block. Now, what do you do?

    I hope these are helpful, and I look foward to y'alls discussion

    v/r

    Mike

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default 4. Reconciling greivances on the tribal level.

    Really good problem-sets, Mike.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    So, you've successfully neutralized the local insurgency in your AO. Good work. Now, you're dealing with tribal issues dating back for centuries. The security you've facilitated is temporary and mostly based on the fact that you and your men are the baddest sheiks on the block. Now, what do you do?
    Okay, very rough stab at the simplest one.

    First, assume that you cannot resolve / reconcile the grievances.

    Second, assume that there is some cultural recognized and accepted form of reconciliation and resolution.

    Third, ask what it is.

    Or, in other words, and to modify a core US Army meme - "Ask, don't tell" !

    Why is this simple?

    (NB: I didn't say "easy" )

    All cultures have some form of reconciliation mechanism which involves the use or threat of violence and some form of ritualized pattern of action / event to stop violence. Sometimes there are multiple ritualized event sequences fighting for cultural dominance.

    Because these conflict / grievance resolution forms vary significantly from culture to culture (and often within cultures), you need to find one or two that match with the vast majority of the current players, whether or not they match with your perception of how to do it. This latter point is the key - you cannot impose a solution on "them", they have to evolve one that meets your minimal requirements. This can lead to some pretty strange mechanisms (e.g. cricket games were used in the Trobriands as a substitute for raid / counter-raid, i.e. clan feud, events).

    Now comes the truly hard part: once you have worked with them to establish a local solution, you have to sell it on three fronts:

    1. MNF forces have to be convinced that it will "work";
    2. Local groups have to agree to enforce it; and
    3. The HN government has to at least officially tolerate it.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  6. #6
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Background

    Thanks for the initial responses. I'll provide a bit more of my train of thought on this thread. I've spent some time this summer travelling and talking to junior leaders with little or no combat experience. I was struck by the gap between what I've seen in combat and their perceptions of combat from training.

    I enjoyed reading The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa: With E. D. Swinton's "The Defence of Duffer's Drift" (Paperback). IMO, it can serve as a good primer for a leader preparing for deployment, however, it is simply a book about the different ways to do a raid. It does not cover the more difficult, "wicked" problems that many face on the ground.

    So, I thought I'd try this out and see if it is helpful. If so, then I may consolidate it into an essay for SWJ. I would like council members to respond from their vantage point- this is not a simulation . If you're an academic (cough, cough Marc ) tell us what you would recommend to a ground commander as a SME advisor. If you are military, tell us how you handled these scenarios in the past.

    Obviously, there are no right answers. The initial post from Marc and George Singleton reflect that. In the end, a commander will use his intuition and METT-TC, but I'm hoping that some of the answers here may help a young commander on the ground sorting through the business.

    During my time at NPS, one of the best exercises I joined in had a small group of military and academic professionals. The military included SF, Seals, Navy EOD, and Regular Army with combat experience in Iraq, Afghan, Phillipines, Colombia, and Central America. The Academics ranged from various fields in social sciences plus a couple computer and Operations Research dudes. Sometimes our individual experiences blinded us towards finding an appropriate solution, and sometimes our unique experiences allowed us to provide the best solution, but overall, the discussions led to better insight for everyone involved.

    So with that, I'll be quiet and let y'all speak.

    v/r

    Mike

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    Default Hey marct ...

    Being a descendant of simple thinking CFM types, I thought 16 sides were enough - that using up the fingers and most of the toes.

    I admit to thinking about Vietnam, where a mirror image could have been built up - if one accepts that NLF was autonomous from GNV (not I), you would have had NLF (as host) and GNV (as assisting) - not an insurgency in their eyes, but unconventional warfare (NLF as guerrilla force in occupied area) in a Resistence War (their term).

    And, there, you could throw in the paramilitary Saigon gangsters; and the two paramilitary religious groups; and the Buddists and Generals for a bit of extra political flavor. So, yeh, reality is very complicated, but let's do the basic drills first.

    So, now I have to pick a role (note there are no lawyers in my four roles) - and see if I have anything intelligent to say.

    Remember the Windmill, where we kept it simple; as opposed to the Plaines where we made it complicated for ourselves.

  8. #8
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Corruption and governance

    Quote Originally Posted by George L. Singleton View Post
    Mike:

    In Afghanistan and Pakistan,where in years past I lived and served, the practice of "backshees" [my phonetic spelling???] is that all, everyone, gets pay offs and kick backs for and from whatever they do vocationally.

    This said, and it is true, how do you or we differentiate between everyday grassroots corruption and high level corruption, which corruption is true on all sides, the non-Taliban governance officials as well as the Taliban?

    More critique, disagreement, whatever on this topic could be helpful to one and all as the advertised effort to clean up corruption to me seems highly unlikely to be achievable due to these folks hundreds of years of precedent of instutitionalized corruption, corruption as defined by a Westerner, job security and old age pension set asides as defined by locals over there from bottom to top.
    George,

    It took four tours to the Middle East to absorb what you are saying and comprehend the true limits of my own abilities as a ground force commander. My initial questions were intentionally weighted to encourage response and debate amoung other members of the council. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one that has been in such a dilemma.

    With that said, on the ground level, when one is supposed to "control" their environment while working within the constraints of indigenous culture, to include bribery, pay-offs, kick-backs, and simple corruption, I would suspect that a commander must determine an appropriate acceptable level.

    When the local government surpasses the norm, actions must be taken. For example, in Diyala, Iraq (circa 2006-2007) Iraqi Army and local police units were being used by the elected government to cleanse the Sunni populace. Simultaneously, the Sunnis sided with al Qaeda as to check the government. Both sides were wrong- they were embattled in a civil war.

    We were simply trying to maintain the peace.

    I suppose that is what makes these examples interesting- Americans intervening in internal affairs trying to provide a least-bad solution.

    I'm not sure if this applies to Afghanistan, but my intuition tells me that many of the issues in Afghan are Mullah Omar v/s Harmad Karzai.

    With that, I'll wait for y'alls response.

    v/r

    Mike

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Boss, what do you want me to do now?

    I've struggled during the past two years to accurately describe our small portion during the "Surge." I'm finally starting to tell the story....This is the beginning of my entrance into the realm of wicked, irregular, or undefined problems..... Telling this tale has been extremely difficult for me.

    I hope others will continue to share their experiences and answer the first set of questions so that we can all learn a bit...

    v/r

    Mike

    Boss, what do you want me to do now?

    Late May 2007, Zaganiyah, Diyala River Valley, Iraq

    We watched the video over and over again. Today should have been a day of relief. After sixty days of siege, fighting through twelve attacks a day, sorting through hundreds of deep-buried improved explosive devices (DBIEDs), houses rigged to blow (HBIEDs), and suicide bombers, our persistance paid off. Last night, we killed the primary bomb-maker in the Diyala River Valley.

    Intuitively, we knew violence would go down. The enemy's ability to disrupt or block the roads would be severly hampered by this kill. Soon, I could reopen the only ground line of commucation (LOC) leading back to the outside world. We would no longer have to rely solely on air assets for mobility and resupply. I would continue to put the squeeze on Ali Latif al Zuharie, the regional al Qaeda leader of this end of the Diyala River Valley. Killing his sole bomb-maker is the equivilent of taking out his star quarterback.

    The siege was working. Continued pressure on the remaining insurgents would result in their destruction, surrender, or eggressing into safer areas. My area of operations was quickly becoming a non-safe area for those that continued to rebel or revolt violently from the elected government. The Islamic State of Iraq would soon dissolve from this area. Reading off the COIN playbook, I would begin restoring local indigenious security, essential services, governance, resettling displaced families, and arbitrating tribal, clan, and family reconciliation.

    Today should have been a good day, but my boss and I sat transfixed at the images playing out on the computer screen. Frame by frame, I pointed out terrain features verifying the location. LTC Poppas, my squadron commander, would take a copy back to show the Brigade and Division Commanders. They would offer assets, support, and guidance, but at the end of the day, I would be responsible for determine the appropriate course of action and execution.

    I thought that I had seen it all, but for some reason, during this deployment, every time you solved one problem, two more popped up. The situation became messier, more confusing, and more wicked every time I pulled back a layer of the onion. During the Thunder Runs, I sped through the Republican Guards last stand brilliantly firing tank rounds and machine gun fire to dissolve any resistance. This time, we fought through the trenches in Turki Village throwing grenades back and forth to neutralize an al Qaeda training camp. We fought through villages abadoned from al Qaeda's ethnic cleansing. We dealt with regular war, irregular war, and everything in between. I thought that I had seen it all, but it all hit home when we watched this video.

    Maybe I observed too many deaths. Maybe I lost too many of my own men. Maybe not.

    During this time in Iraq, everyone became numb to death. I remember back in 2003 when we first saw the beheadings of Daniel Pearl. I felt sick, but now, the beheading videos seemed normal. This time was different.

    After we killed the bomb-maker, during the sensitive site exploitation, we uncovered numerous videos of his accomplishments. First, we found the pornography. Pornography may seem a paradox to your purist beliefs of al Qaeda, but he was no Islamist. Honestly, in my four tours, I've only met three true Muslims. This man was a former Ba'athest explosive expert under Saddam currently working for the highest bidder. We watched hours of him and his wife on tape trying to emulate the sexual exploits of Pamela Anderson's epic ventures. So much for the purity of the Jihad. Next, we found the attacks overrunning the Zaganiyah security forces from 10 November 2006- ten days to the day when Alpha troop left Zag. Finally, we watch the video. This video was different.

    It started with the capture of one of our local Iraqi Army brothers. He was a Shia from Kharnabhat, an adjacent town trapped in a zero-sum perpetual feud with the Sunnis from Zaganiyah. The soldier was beaten and drug into the town's square: the cemetary 100 meters from my current patrol base. The entire town of Zaganiyah crowded the area to watch the spectacle. Protected by a black mask covering his face, Ali Latif al Zuharie served as the prosecutor, judge, and jury.

    "For crimes against humanity, for disobeying Allah and supporting the infidel backed government, this man is sentenced to death." demanded Ali Latif.

    "Allah Achbar, Allah Achbar (God is Great, God is Great)," the crowd cheered.

    Ali Latif presented his sword and beheaded the soldier, and the crowd succombed in ecstacy declaring how great god was as the soldier's head flopped to the ground.

    I stopped the video. I could no longer take watching my neighbors engage in such tragedy. I knew these people. I spent time with them. I drank tea and smoked cigarettes with them. I cried and laughed with them. I thought I knew them. I no longer knew anything.

    "Boss, what do you want me to do now" I asked my squadron commander.

    "Mike, I don't know." he replied.

    It was the first time that I ever found LTC Andrew Poppas indecisive.

  10. #10
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post You sure don't give the easy questions do you

    A,B,C,Z

    Honestly the truth is you may find few aside from the august (said old guys) who feel even marginally up to the task of giving you the type of directions which you would go in the given areas. It's rather difficult to truly face the tasks we (the American people) have asked you guys to undertake although perhaps that's the point. If we're not ready to accept and give greater consideration to the facts as they may well be on the ground before you are sent in then there will likely be quite a few important questions which have to be answered on the ground at a much higher price than might have been otherwise.

    So for now I like others will wait to absorb the wisdom of others in helping to direct you down the path and hopefully learn quite a bit in the process.

    ps: in reference to your last post

    Did you confront any of those you recognized from the video and when(if) they answered was there a notable shame or was it more like someone talking about a dream they had?
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  11. #11
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Thoughts...

    Thanks for taking the time to read the thread Ron.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    ps: in reference to your last post

    Did you confront any of those you recognized from the video and when(if) they answered was there a notable shame or was it more like someone talking about a dream they had?
    Eventually, I'll tell the whole story. My initial reaction was that everyone in that town was simply evil and needed to die. After I let the anger pass, I tried a tactic that would typically be frowned upon in a cultural awareness class on Iraq- I used shame.

    I brought every leader from that town into our patrol base, and I forced them to watch the video. I hovered over them as they cried and swore "Wallah, Wallah (I swear, I swear)." After the video ended, I told them that I was disgusted to be around them, they were not true Muslims, and they would probably burn in hell.

    Then, I told them that they had no right to be around me or my men, and I kicked them out...

    I suppose that is probably a politically incorrect answer, but it worked. I was able to gain more wasta (power) over them in subsequent talks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    A,B,C,Z

    Honestly the truth is you may find few aside from the august (said old guys) who feel even marginally up to the task of giving you the type of directions which you would go in the given areas. It's rather difficult to truly face the tasks we (the American people) have asked you guys to undertake although perhaps that's the point. If we're not ready to accept and give greater consideration to the facts as they may well be on the ground before you are sent in then there will likely be quite a few important questions which have to be answered on the ground at a much higher price than might have been otherwise.

    So for now I like others will wait to absorb the wisdom of others in helping to direct you down the path and hopefully learn quite a bit in the process.
    That is the point. It is important to remember that my company was only a small player during the "Surge" working as a supporting effort in denied areas. This thread is not supposed to be about our deeds; I was simply able to start telling the story. Some commanders have told their story (Neil Smith pops to the top of my head), and I'm hoping that others will share their experiences so that we can all learn.

    I'm sure that my brothers in Afghanistan are currently facing similar situations or worse, and the least I can do from my armchair is discuss how I worked through my issues.

    SWJ is one forum where we can discuss relevant issues in a non-partisan manner. The only issue surfaces when some try to replace theory with practice. Every think tank wannabe has an opinion until you talk facts. I hope to avoid that.

    v/r

    Mike

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Bravo Mike F

    Mike F,

    Thanks for those posts on the dilemmas and one way to move ahead.

    Similar, less violent dilemma in Afghanistan the other day: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/08...ce-afghan-mob/

    Faced by rioters, curiously with the ANP giving support, 82nd Airborne exit a village instead of conducting searches. One wonders what the patrol commander did when he got back to the FOB - with the eight ANP.

    davidbfpo

  13. #13
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for sharing that story. As to your solution being politically incorrect, it probably is but, you know what? I would have done the same thing. Not to have done something on that order would have been taken as a sign of both weakness and lack of, hmmm, "constancy in service" (or to a goal) is probably the best phrase. There is a concept of what almost might be called "Fate" that runs through much of the region - as in one if fated to do X, Y and Z. This tends to move those so touched to act outside of the everyday cultural expectations and touch the "sacred". BTW, it's also what a lot of the AQ crowd have been drawing on. You tagged into that cultural narrative.

    Back to your earlier question of what advice I'd give, really my previous post contained it. I can't really give more specific advice without actually being there and seeing the situation .

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  14. #14
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default A couple of notes

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    As to your solution being politically incorrect, it probably is but, you know what? I would have done the same thing. Not to have done something on that order would have been taken as a sign of both weakness and lack of, hmmm, "constancy in service" (or to a goal) is probably the best phrase. There is a concept of what almost might be called "Fate" that runs through much of the region - as in one if fated to do X, Y and Z. This tends to move those so touched to act outside of the everyday cultural expectations and touch the "sacred". BTW, it's also what a lot of the AQ crowd have been drawing on. You tagged into that cultural narrative.
    1. From the feedback that I've received from various junior leaders across the board, it seems that many are confusing being nice for being respectful. The damn phrase of "winning the hearts and minds" is being translated into never upset anyone. That is simply wrong, and I've seen too many soldiers get killed from those mistakes.

    2. Never say never. We soldiers, not anthropologist. We use our understanding of cultural awareness to accomplish our mission not write an extensive ethonography on that nation's culture. Many times I learned through blunt trauma, but I did learn that you should never rule out any tools in your kitbag.

    3. Relationship building. We operated in and around Zaganiyah for nearly nine months before this incident. I developed extensive relationships with both the Sunni and Shia tribes. I never took sides. Right before we entered Zaganiyah, I had the local IA commander arrested b/c he was commiting his own autrocities and feuling the local civil war (he was a shia from Kharnabhat, an adjacent town). I tried my best to stay neutral and only take action when necessary. Plus, I rarely raised my voice. So, when the appropriate time came to do so and show anger and disgust, it was respected.

    4. In reality, at least in Diyala Province, yelling is the first part of any negotiation. It usually works like this...

    1/3- Offended parties yell at each other in heated, exaggerated shows of emotion.
    1/3- Arbitrator (Typically sheik or imam) calms everyone down and the discuss a reasonable solution
    1/3 - Hugs, Man kisses, chai, and cigarettes. Everyone celebrates.

    It is an odd way to do business, but it works for them.

    v/r

    Mike

  15. #15
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default

    Hi Mike,

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    1. From the feedback that I've received from various junior leaders across the board, it seems that many are confusing being nice for being respectful. The damn phrase of "winning the hearts and minds" is being translated into never upset anyone. That is simply wrong, and I've seen too many soldiers get killed from those mistakes.
    I've seen grad students sent to mental institutions trying to "never upset anyone" and worrying about the "inherent power imbalance between the ethnographer and the informant" .

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    2. Never say never. We soldiers, not anthropologist. We use our understanding of cultural awareness to accomplish our mission not write an extensive ethonography on that nation's culture. Many times I learned through blunt trauma, but I did learn that you should never rule out any tools in your kitbag.
    Agreed and, BTW, that holds for doing good ethnographies as well. Even though our (Anthropologists) mission is to write ethnographies, never say never is a damn good motto for us, too, and too few use it .

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    3. Relationship building. We operated in and around Zaganiyah for nearly nine months before this incident. I developed extensive relationships with both the Sunni and Shia tribes. I never took sides. Right before we entered Zaganiyah, I had the local IA commander arrested b/c he was commiting his own autrocities and feuling the local civil war (he was a shia from Kharnabhat, an adjacent town). I tried my best to stay neutral and only take action when necessary. Plus, I rarely raised my voice. So, when the appropriate time came to do so and show anger and disgust, it was respected.
    Yup. I've seen wanna-be ethnographers (some with tenure) go into areas and tell the locals what they "should" be doing. Thankfully, I've never had to work under any of these twits, but they are there. Most cultures recognize everything that we would call a "relationship" (there actually aren't that many different forms), even though they rate them differently. Sounds like you tagged into one that they recognized pretty well.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    4. In reality, at least in Diyala Province, yelling is the first part of any negotiation. It usually works like this...

    1/3- Offended parties yell at each other in heated, exaggerated shows of emotion.
    1/3- Arbitrator (Typically sheik or imam) calms everyone down and the discuss a reasonable solution
    1/3 - Hugs, Man kisses, chai, and cigarettes. Everyone celebrates.
    Sounds like my wife's version of conflict resolution ! So, the key, then, lies in the arbitrator position. It sounds like you put yourself in the place of the arbitrator in a way they weren't expecting.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  16. #16
    Council Member Greyhawk's Avatar
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    Default Intel gathering

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Mike F,

    Thanks for those posts on the dilemmas and one way to move ahead.

    Similar, less violent dilemma in Afghanistan the other day: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/08...ce-afghan-mob/

    Faced by rioters, curiously with the ANP giving support, 82nd Airborne exit a village instead of conducting searches. One wonders what the patrol commander did when he got back to the FOB - with the eight ANP.

    davidbfpo
    I submit the 'on the bright side' explanation that "As ugly as it was, we were able to confirm there is anti-coalition sentiment in Tokchi'' as one of the great military quotes of all time.

    Less off-topic, MikeF, you are going to ultimately write a book, right?

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    Council Member Kiwigrunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greyhawk View Post
    ...MikeF, you are going to ultimately write a book, right?
    I'd buy it.
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

  18. #18
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greyhawk View Post
    Less off-topic, MikeF, you are going to ultimately write a book, right?
    Eventually, I'd like to write a book, but it'll probably take several years. I'm going to allow some more time and space to allow me to get it right. For now, I'll publish an occasional paper on SWJ and comment on threads to try and provide some assistance to the younger guys out actually doing the fighting.

    Additionally, I send most of my writings to my former O's and NCO's. We were very close (Band of Brothers like), and they fact check my work to make sure I get the details and sequence of events correct. Plus, they keep reminded me of how awesome they were and want their story told. In fact, that will probably be the best part of the story- the people involved to include our final IA Company.

    I'd buy it.
    Thanks KiwiGrunt.

    Back to this thread, I'm still hoping some of the other military guys will comment on how they have tackled these problems in the past.

    v/r

    Mike

  19. #19
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default On Anthropologists and things

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    I've seen grad students sent to mental institutions trying to "never upset anyone" and worrying about the "inherent power imbalance between the ethnographer and the informant" .

    Agreed and, BTW, that holds for doing good ethnographies as well. Even though our (Anthropologists) mission is to write ethnographies, never say never is a damn good motto for us, too, and too few use it

    Yup. I've seen wanna-be ethnographers (some with tenure) go into areas and tell the locals what they "should" be doing. Thankfully, I've never had to work under any of these twits, but they are there. Most cultures recognize everything that we would call a "relationship" (there actually aren't that many different forms), even though they rate them differently. Sounds like you tagged into one that they recognized pretty well.
    Hi Marc,

    In grad school, I was fascinated by the subject of anthropology, but I always thought it a bit presumptious that one could believe that they could penetrate a society without making waves.

    It reminds me of all the times that we had embedded reporters within our unit. Guys would put on all their tricked out "kits" around the photographers and pose hoping to get the "GI Joe" photo-shot. I imagine that it is the same for villagers when an anthropologist comes to town. Some will posture, others will exaggerate....In the end, the visitor becomes a bit of amusement outside their normal day to day life.


    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Sounds like my wife's version of conflict resolution ! So, the key, then, lies in the arbitrator position. It sounds like you put yourself in the place of the arbitrator in a way they weren't expecting.
    Good analogy. I only wish that dealing with wives was as simple as dealing with tribal sheiks. At least the locals are from earth. Women are from Venus

    Best,

    Mike

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post

    Good analogy. I only wish that dealing with wives was as simple as dealing with tribal sheiks. At least the locals are from earth. Women are from Venus

    Best,

    Mike
    Good thing they are too
    If we could figure them out then we have to go back to arguing with neighbors to keep from getting bored.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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