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Thread: Ill-Defined Problem Sets: A Discussion

  1. #61
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A few points

    A counterinsurgency strategy must address populace control (it is the only means to isolate the populace from the enemy), which is always tailored to each individual situation. It rarely means employing the methods utilized in Malaysia or Algeria, which are the most frequently cited case studies because they were so extreme (but also effective).
    I'm no expert on Malaysia or Algeria, but the populace control was not of the general population. In Malaysia it was the Chinese minority, mainly in the countryside and a large minority, the Malays were "on side" throughout.

    Malaysia became independent in 1957 (excluding Borneo & Singapore) and the 'Malayan Emergency' lasted from 1948-1960. The UK had indicated way before 1957 that independence was coming and that helped undermine the insurgency. Note an amnesty played a big part in the COIN campaign. Some help from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malayan_Emergency

    In Algeria there was a large European minority, the Pied Noir, 10% of the population (1m) and for many complicated reasons lage numbers of Algerians served in the regular (170K) and irregular units (236K, often called Harkis). The film 'Battle of Algiers' portrays only a small part of the war and 2m were forced into camps. The real war was in the countryside, although one can argue the 'Battle' lost the war for the French.

    With help for the war: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerian_War and the Pied Noir: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pied-noir

    From my armchair in such conflicts an important metric is how many locals loyally serve in state service alongside the intervenors? Or serve the state, e.g. black Africans in Rhodesia.

    So, if we cannot have minority populace control, what are the options? SWC have often written on these options, good governance, good works, undermining the narrative etc.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-19-2009 at 12:24 PM. Reason: slowly constructed

  2. #62
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Population control is an illusion…

    Governments remain in power by providing effective security, economic, and governance services through good times and bad. By doing this they can only influence the population, over the long-term governmental population control is just a dream. Taking a western centric view we could consider the French Revolution, the American Revolution, and the breakup of the Soviet Union just to name a few instances of the illusion of population control.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    This highlights one of the key problems in our current interventions: our exit strategy depends on an evolutionary process that we do not control. That process may be far more complex and difficult than we initially assume it to be: in Iraq in particular, our intervention was supported by some quite naive underestimations of the challenges of developing a government that would be functional and acceptable to all of the major groups. Something to consider before intervening, certainly: realistic assessment of challenges is a useful thing.
    Steve (Dayuhan/the Foreigner?), in my western mind at least, you have identified some of the key components of the problem set we face in Afghanistan and Iraq: US staying power in the field is limited; only local populations can truly define the acceptability of local governments; only local populations are placed (they are the true owners of the AO) to deal with long term changes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    All of this of course is on a wider scale and is of little use to those facing local problems such as those discussed in the OP. In these cases I'd only add that one obstacle to seeing a solution to an ill-defined problem set is our tendency to define problem sets in our own terms and according to our own framework, which may mean we're trying to solve the wrong problem.
    Truly wise words.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Population and Resource Control is focused on separating the populace from the insurgents, and the majority of this effort should be focused on providing security to the populace so they cannot be coerced by the insurgents. (If they support the insurgent's ideology, then we're on the losing side and shouldn't be there to begin with unless we're practicing UW). This includes check points, intelligence operations, combat outposts, patrols, information operations, etc. However, when you mention Population Control everyone has visions of the moving people away from their villages and confining them in a camp like the Brits did in Malaysia or we did to the American Japanese in the U.S. during WWII. From my optic that is not the intent, we do this as gently as possible, but we do implement the necessary measures based on the situation.
    I would suggest that these are short-term measures and that local police forces, ranging over a spectrum of beat cop to gendarme, need to be an integral part of this tactical security centric solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Second counterpoint: You suggested supporting over controlling, and that would be ideal in a real FID scenario, but in Iraq and Afghanistan we are/were an occupying power and that changes the dynamic from where we support to where we must do, until we can evolve the situation to a point where we can really transition to a supporting role. This why I think severe punitive raids may be a better option in some cases instead of occupying a country and trying to transform their society at great cost to "all" concerned. In my opinion we over emphasize what we can accomplish with soft power.
    An advisory role focused upon security, economic, and governance services may be the most sustainable model out there. From my civil affairs centric viewpoint, I believe that it is much more cost effective to influence the influencers. There will always be more locals present in country than coalition personnel.

    A hybrid vehicle: Predictive models (Can Game Theory Predict When Iran Will Get the Bomb?), OGA, SOF, Robust PRT’s, Trade Policy, Diplomacy, and GP Military Force as a last option?

    We need to get back to a long term focus, which includes a balanced combination of these and other components, which serves to minimize costs and meet our national goals.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 08-19-2009 at 01:20 PM. Reason: clarity...
    Sapere Aude

  3. #63
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    Steve (Dayuhan/the Foreigner?)
    Alam mo pala eh... ganyan talaga ako, kahit saan. 'Di bale, sanay na.

    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    An advisory role focused upon security, economic, and governance services may be the most sustainable model out there. From my civil affairs centric viewpoint, I believe that it is much more cost effective to influence the influencers. There will always be more locals present in country than coalition personnel.
    An advisory role is what we're looking for. In Iraq and Afghanistan, though, we're advising governments that we effectively created, and while we may see ourselves as advisors to "their" government, many of "them" may see us propping up a government that is more ours than theirs. Changing this perception is a major challenge. There is no single step that can do it, needs time, gradual evolution, and a delicate balancing act: external forces are needed to give the government room to grow to a point where it can be independent, but at the same time the presence of those forces is seen as compromising independence.

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