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Thread: New Guidance on Counter-Insurgency

  1. #81
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Not a party line, Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I do tire of the party line that we don't do COIN, we do FID and the host nation does FID. Hopefully that is true in most in most situations, but it sure as hell doesn't apply to Afghanistan where a large part of the fighting is still being done by U.S. and coalition forces.
    Can't be 'cause I say it -- and I don't belong to any one party. Not the big war crowd, not the COIN crowd, not the SOF crowd or the GPF crowd -- I belong to all of 'em and none of 'em, been in all of 'em and they all have strong and weak points, good and bad doctrine -- and theories. I do try for pragmatic realism, don't like crowds and am suspicious of a lot of theory...
    As the Zen instructor frequently yells during mediation sessions, WAKE UP! We do COIN. We are confusing the desired state (the Afghans lead he COIN effort) with reality, and delusions in war are dangerous.
    Yep, I agree, delusions are dangerous, particularly in wars. However, we aren't doing COIN, we're using some (not all, not yet...) COIN techniques to assist the Government of Afghanistan. Admittedly while trying to nudge that Government to do what we'd like them to do. My perception is that we aren't being terribly successful at that...

    WE need to wake up and realize that because that fact -- and it is a fact, a harsh one and not a semantic quibble -- will color everything that happens in that country in the next few years. We are not in total or even near total control of our own destiny there. Among other things, the US diplomatic coup of getting NATO to become involved has certainly been a double ed -- one of these (LINK). The delusion that we are -- or were -- 'doing COIN' is big part of the reason we're where we are eight years after we arrived.
    Besides winning (still needs to be defined), we need to identify what's more important:

    - Is the most important thing to win, no matter what? If a win is more important than who wins it, then perhaps we can do more by focusing on winning instead of focusing on nation building.

    - On the other hand if it is more important that the Afghans win or lose this fight with the coalition in support, then that leads us to a different strategy (their strategy, not ours).

    Which one is it?
    It's 'C,' neither of the above. No body's going to win, there is no win in any insurgency; you can achieve most of your aims but you aren't going to win because lacking killing 'em all, the other guys aren't going away; they'll be back, one way or another and sooner or later. So winning isn't the issue. An acceptable outcome is the issue and that can be obtained without either of your alternatives.

    Initially, We were going to just leave. then we decided to stay and told the Afghans we' fix it. That morphed into setting up a strong central Government -- and I think we're finally realizing that's not going fly -- it never was. Now, it's likely to be a mix of more COIN support -- and yes, that means fighting -- and 'nation building' without going full bore on either and getting to the point where there is borderline stability in the area and it's better than it was when we got there.

    When we get to that point, we'll leave. Then we'll have four win-less wars in a row; I did the first two; these two are for you guys...

    Where we gonna intervene and do COIN stuff next?

  2. #82
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default

    I could add that saying "the government in question is our creation" is actually an understatement. It would be more accurate to say the government in question is our infant, still suckling at our collective breast. We can put as much effort as we want into announcing that we are just helping out, but I doubt we'll fool anyone, except possibly ourselves..

  3. #83
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I'm not sure that's true

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    True in a sense, but the government in question is our creation. We need to remember that, because nobody else in the picture is likely to forget it.
    In either sense -- as you very accurately said earlier:
    ..In my part of the world, and I suspect elsewhere, Americans in particular have a reputation for being very easy to manipulate.
    So did we create a government or participate in a massive con game. I suspect more the latter than the former. I also suspect most everyone in the neighborhood is aware of the fact we got shnookered a bit -- just as we did in Kosovo. We are so easy...

    Your later post:
    ...is actually an understatement...It would be more accurate to say the government in question is our infant, still suckling at our collective breast. We can put as much effort as we want into announcing that we are just helping out, but I doubt we'll fool anyone, except possibly ourselves.
    is, I think even further off on the 'understatement' part but is certainly correct on the suckling aspect.

    As for fooling anyone, my bet would be that a few of the more passionate Anti-American Americans and others will espouse your view but that most of the world will not (brilliant move by us bringing in NATO, that'll aid in spreading the blame... ) and thus that "it is our creature" idea will soon go by the wayside -- except for the usual few over wrought Americans who will complain that they wouldn't exist if it weren't for us, ya-da ya-da...

    Bottom line is we opened and held up the edge of the tent, the camel got his nose and then his body inside and now we don't know how to get him out -- and the rest of the world will, mostly, figure that out. Not least because we will very likely go to foolish lengths to be sure that government gets its own way on many things. Even to the point of self harm -- to the US...
    Last edited by Ken White; 08-31-2009 at 12:58 AM.

  4. #84
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Appearances can be deceiving...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Bottom line is we opened and held up the edge of the tent, the camel got his nose and then his body inside and now we don't know how to get him out -- and the rest of the world will, mostly, figure that out. Not least because we will very likely go to foolish lengths to be sure that government gets its own way on many things. Even to the point of self harm -- to the US...
    ...we can be likened to that big goofy kid who you have to keep an eye on because the wheels are turning in there even though he hides it well sometimes...fortunately he's big enough and young enough to recover from those hard hits resulting from inexperience....

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Among other things, the US diplomatic coup of getting NATO to become involved has certainly been a double ed -- one of these (LINK).


    Things are changing fast, we have passed the cold war thaw and are moving into a new spring in which we are really going to start having to pay attention.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    No body's going to win, there is no win in any insurgency; you can achieve most of your aims but you aren't going to win because lacking killing 'em all, the other guys aren't going away; they'll be back, one way or another and sooner or later. So winning isn't the issue. An acceptable outcome is the issue and that can be obtained without either of your alternatives.
    Agreed

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Now, it's likely to be a mix of more COIN support -- and yes, that means fighting -- and 'nation building' without going full bore on either and getting to the point where there is borderline stability in the area and it's better than it was when we got there.

    When we get to that point, we'll leave. Then we'll have four win-less wars in a row; I did the first two; these two are for you guys...

    Where we gonna intervene and do COIN stuff next?
    Ouch.

    We are slowly extracting our head from our economic point of contact and it has been much less traumatic than it could have been...this gives me a bit of hope that perhaps, just perhaps, a willingness to try a hybrid/conventional/interagency/COIN/FID/hezbollah-kepi's blu fusion journey can get us where we need to go...no promises though (step 1 in all CA/CMO operations)
    Sapere Aude

  5. #85
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I do tire of the party line that we don't do COIN, we do FID and the host nation does FID. Hopefully that is true in most in most situations, but it sure as hell doesn't apply to Afghanistan where a large part of the fighting is still being done by U.S. and coalition forces. As the Zen instructor frequently yells during mediation sessions, WAKE UP! We do COIN. We are confusing the desired state (the Afghans lead he COIN effort) with reality, and delusions in war are dangerous.
    Bill, I'm confused by your post. According to FM 3-24 (p vi),

    COUNTERINSURGENCY DESCRIPTION
    Counterinsurgency is those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency (JP 1-02). It is an offensive approach involving all elements of national power; it can take place across the range of operations and spectrum of conflict. It supports and influences an HN’s IDAD program. It includes strategic and operational planning; intelligence development and analysis; training; materiel, technical, and organizational assistance; advice; infrastructure development; tactical-level operations; and many elements of PSYOP. Generally, the preferred methods of support are through assistance and development programs. Leaders must consider the roles of military, intelligence, diplomatic, law enforcement, information, finance, and economic elements (MIDLIFE) in counterinsurgency
    By definition, we can only conduct COIN within our own borders. Everything else is a partisan effort or intervention. In Afghanistan (currently) and Iraq (circa 2006-2007), we conducted an occupation using unilateral operations combined with COIN principles.

    v/r

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeF; 08-31-2009 at 02:45 AM.

  6. #86
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    Default Michael, all very doctrinal, but ...

    who is actually doing the "strategic and operational planning", and supplying the bulk of the assets for "tactical-level operations" ?

    If the answer is the US, then according to another JP (not writing from my home computer, so I can't cite chap and verse; but IIRC, it's the JP on FID), that situation goes beyond FID with combat support and enters the realm of "war". That might be Bill's point - that's for him to say. But, it is my legal point - we are essentially a co-belligerent in the Astan Govt vs Taliban armed conflict. Similar legal situation as in Vietnam (IMO).

  7. #87
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Here's your post on that topic and it is relative

    LINK. And we did do all this before...

    Who's doing the bulk of the work is not terribly material; who's at least in theory providing direction could be. You legal types can argue that; the practical matter is that if the Afghan govt complains about civilian casualties, we react...
    Last edited by Ken White; 08-31-2009 at 03:54 AM.

  8. #88
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    Default Dear Frustrated...

    MikeF, I share your frustration, thus the purpose of my post.

    By definition, we can only conduct COIN within our own borders. Everything else is a partisan effort or intervention. In Afghanistan (currently) and Iraq (circa 2006-2007), we conducted an occupation using unilateral operations combined with COIN principles.
    O.K. Mike I'll bite, because this is the argument that others have presented, but if we're doing the bulk of information activities, the bulk of the PSYOP, the bulk of the fighting, the bulk of the economic development, who is really the assisted party? The Afghan government or the U.S. government?

    I'm sure jmm99 can help us on the legal front, but if you over throw a government and occupy a country in effect you are now within your borders. We conducted COIN in post WWII Germany (or COIN like tactics). You are legally bound to provide basic services to include security to the populace until your status changes. When does that status change? After you stood up a government, or after you stood up an effective government?

    We're doing FID in Columbia and the Philippines, but we were doing something else in Iraq and Afghanistan that was COIN like, but not COIN if Ken's and your argument is correct.

    Ken wrote,

    However, we aren't doing COIN, we're using some (not all, not yet...) COIN techniques to assist the Government of Afghanistan.
    Are we conducting Stability Operations? Seems to be a little closer to definitional truth. Does it really change anything?

    WILF wrote something a while back roughly stating we're too eager to put something into a doctrinal box, instead of accurately framing the problem and addressing it effectively. Like Ken, I'm extremely leary of all the theories, especially those not grounded in history.

  9. #89
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Bill, this whole thread is an example of why I became a Wardenfile as Bob's World would say. War is a system...understand it as that and you might figure out how to win, don't and you will get into all kinds of mentaly ill war concepts and stuff that just confuses the issue

    How you been doin? haven't seen you here in a while. Slap

  10. #90
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Is this the policy? I hope not, because if it is, we're toast. A more reasonable goal would be a government that is not going to attack anyone or host those who do. Personally, I don't care if they are pro-US or anti-US. As long as they don't resort to violence in pursuit of that orientation, or give sanctuary to those who do, how they feel about the US is not for us to decide.
    I submit that after all the time and effort, -especially in Iraq- having a Government which is not Pro-US, to the extent that it may be a de-facto enemy, and even consistently votes against the US in the UN, then you have achieved very little.
    Wilf, are you assuming here that the policy-makers have sorted this stuff out before you come into the picture? If so, your faith in the policy-makers exceeds mine by several orders of magnitude.
    Well I have to have a policy to set forth. No policy, no action.
    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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    Default Posted by Ken

    Posted by Ken,

    LINK. And we did do all this before...

    Who's doing the bulk of the work is not terribly material; who's at least in theory providing direction could be. You legal types can argue that; the practical matter is that if the Afghan govt complains about civilian casualties, we react...
    It concerns me when a senior citizen has a better memory than I do . I remain envious of your vast knowledge and mental acumen, but

    I don't still don't agree with your opinion on this topic, because IMO the bottom line is if we are killing insurgents, we're doing counterinsurgency. I'm not sure that doctrine is sufficiently clear to determine the difference between when we're doing COIN and doing FID.

    True we react when the Afghan government complains about civilian casualties, but let's me honest, these complaints have been going on for years, and our reaction was mostly a public apology, not a change in policy. That seems to have changed with GEN McCrystal's new guidance.

    It doesn't matter to Joe on the ground doing God's work whether it is COIN or FID, but it does matter from a strategy perspective, because it determines how we're framing the problem and if we're framing the problem incorrectly we won't get the desired results.

    Got ya on winning, not a good term, but my definition of winning is an acceptable outcome. WWII was an acceptable outcome, even if we did have to give the USSR much of Germany and Eastern Europe. Conflict never ends, it just changes form.

    I do think the COIN/FID debate should be addressed in more detail in another forum; probably in irregular warfare debate. It is being proposed that IW consists of COIN, FID, UW, SO, and CT, meaning these are the activities that "we perform", so if that is true, that sort of rains on the parade of those who say we don't do COIN. With that low blow, I depart the debate for the evening.

  12. #92
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    From this vantage point, we can act as arbitrators, referees, or peace-keepers. This is where I will probably diverge from Wilf's world.
    No you don't. De-escalation is good, as long as the enemy or potential enemy is complying with your will, and not you with his. If your ability to use violence is suppressing his, then we are making progress.
    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

  13. #93
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default There are all sorts of doctrinal boxes. There are also reality boxes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    ... but if we're doing the bulk of information activities, the bulk of the PSYOP, the bulk of the fighting, the bulk of the economic development, who is really the assisted party? The Afghan government or the U.S. government?
    Wrong question -- who's country is it?
    I'm sure jmm99 can help us on the legal front, but if you over throw a government and occupy a country in effect you are now within your borders. We conducted COIN in post WWII Germany (or COIN like tactics). You are legally bound to provide basic services to include security to the populace until your status changes. When does that status change? After you stood up a government, or after you stood up an effective government?
    The former. Germany was occupied and governed from 1945 until 1949 by the Allied powers. The Occupation continued after the BRD Government stood up in 1949 for another six years, until 1955 and Germany was truly able to stand on its own. Ten years total. We've been in Afghanistan for eight and they've had a government for the last four. Like it or not, it's been recognized by everyone and NATO is there to help -- and that help is contingent on there being an Afghan government. They were not willing to help the US with what they saw as a US problem...
    We're doing FID in Columbia and the Philippines, but we were doing something else in Iraq and Afghanistan that was COIN like, but not COIN if Ken's and your argument is correct.
    Since both those latter were and are several things aside from an insurgency, I think you could safely say we're fighting wars in both places -- no doubt in my mind that's accurate and should satisfy any purist.
    Are we conducting Stability Operations? Seems to be a little closer to definitional truth. Does it really change anything?
    Works for me. As for change, not for you or me or the troops there but it probably changes something for both NATO and the Afghans and our relations with most of the rest of the world...
    WILF wrote something a while back roughly stating we're too eager to put something into a doctrinal box, instead of accurately framing the problem and addressing it effectively. Like Ken, I'm extremely leary of all the theories, especially those not grounded in history.
    I agree that the problem should be accurately framed, as for addressing it effectively, jury's still out.

    The history says that if you try to run a campaign as if it is your campaign and the 'host nation,' no matter how bad they are, no matter how little they may be contributing, doesn't buy into what you're doing, you'll probably lose. Trust me on that one.

  14. #94
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Not a fair criteria!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    ...and even consistently votes against the US in the UN, then you have achieved very little.
    Who doesn't?

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    Default Warden makes my head hurt



    Bill, this whole thread is an example of why I became a Wardenfile as Bob's World would say. War is a system...understand it as that and you might figure out how to win, don't and you will get into all kinds of mentaly ill war concepts and stuff that just confuses the issue

    How you been doin? haven't seen you here in a while. Slap
    Slap, as always good to hear from you, and when I can I follow your posts on the other threads, always interesting, and the utube video links are always good for a laugh.

    I think Bob's World identified an appropriate label for you .

    You have seen my posts countering "some" of Warden's arguments in other threads. I'm not vehemently anti-Warden, but I think he has a very narrow focus and is more of an advocate for his service than an advocate for developing the "right" strategy for our nation. Of course it can be argued that Army planners didn't do much better in Iraq or Afghanistan. As you may recall I am a fan of punitive raids, and of course we can do those most effectively with Air Power, but to demonstrate national resolve you still need to put some boots on the ground to show you're prepared to accept risk to pursue policy. As for leaving boots on the ground and trying to transform another culture that is another debate. In most cases I'm opposed.

    Also I'm not convinced war is a system, it is conflict at the highest level, but are attempt to define things as systems have led us astray too many times. Look forward to more debates on this topic. Bill

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    The history says that if you try to run a campaign as if it is your campaign and the 'host nation,' no matter how bad they are, no matter how little they may be contributing, doesn't buy into what you're doing, you'll probably lose. Trust me on that one.
    I do

    Also agree we're fighting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, that cuts to the chase.

  17. #97
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Drink more bourbon, does wonders for slow brain cells...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    It concerns me when a senior citizen has a better memory than I do .
    Also makes you dashingly handsome to the fairer sex...
    I don't still don't agree with your opinion on this topic, because IMO the bottom line is if we are killing insurgents, we're doing counterinsurgency. I'm not sure that doctrine is sufficiently clear to determine the difference between when we're doing COIN and doing FID.
    In one sense, I'm not sure it makes a great deal of difference to you, me or the troops -- war is war. OTOH, it does make a legal difference and, more importantly, a perceptual difference on the part of many. Including the Troops...

    If you say the US is doing COIN in Afghanistan in the eyes of some, you're saying those folks are in an insurgency against the US. That doesn't compute to Joe, who also doesn't understand why he needs to care what the Afghans want since we're paying the freight...
    True we react when the Afghan government complains about civilian casualties, but let's me honest, these complaints have been going on for years, and our reaction was mostly a public apology, not a change in policy.
    I think you just sort of made my case; "The delusion that we are -- or were -- 'doing COIN' is big part of the reason we're where we are eight years after we arrived."(emphasis added / kw)
    That seems to have changed with GEN McCrystal's new guidance.
    True, thus, as I said, we'll see; "...as for addressing it effectively, jury's still out..."
    It doesn't matter to Joe on the ground doing God's work whether it is COIN or FID, but it does matter from a strategy perspective, because it determines how we're framing the problem and if we're framing the problem incorrectly we won't get the desired results.
    Absolutely -- that's been my point. Like it or not, it is their country and we cannot go charging around as if it were ours. We did that once and it didn't work out at all well.
    I do think the COIN/FID debate should be addressed in more detail in another forum; probably in irregular warfare debate. It is being proposed that IW consists of COIN, FID, UW, SO, and CT, meaning these are the activities that "we perform", so if that is true, that sort of rains on the parade of those who say we don't do COIN. With that low blow, I depart the debate for the evening.
    I'd agree that COIN is IW -- but that doesn't define who's doing what to who. That's what's important, the definition inside the IW continuum.

    Not a low blow, just another example of our 'doctrine' problem -- too many cooks, all want their part of the pie included in everything and selection of terms is part of that. I don't particularly care about the terminology -- I do know that the "We are the US and we're here to help you, please stand back" mindset is not a good thing.

    Saying we're doing COIN leads to that, the troops get frustrated because they can't understand why the host nation has a say in anything, the host nation gets their feelings hurt and won't cooperate and 'allies' who would help said host nation aren't all that happy to be seen helping the US. It's all politics and perceptions so the Joint pub folks better be smart in final their word selections and definitions.

  18. #98
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Dear Abbie,

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    MikeF, I share your frustration, thus the purpose of my post.

    O.K. Mike I'll bite, because this is the argument that others have presented, but if we're doing the bulk of information activities, the bulk of the PSYOP, the bulk of the fighting, the bulk of the economic development, who is really the assisted party? The Afghan government or the U.S. government?

    I'm sure jmm99 can help us on the legal front, but if you over throw a government and occupy a country in effect you are now within your borders. We conducted COIN in post WWII Germany (or COIN like tactics). You are legally bound to provide basic services to include security to the populace until your status changes. When does that status change? After you stood up a government, or after you stood up an effective government?

    We're doing FID in Columbia and the Philippines, but we were doing something else in Iraq and Afghanistan that was COIN like, but not COIN if Ken's and your argument is correct.

    Are we conducting Stability Operations? Seems to be a little closer to definitional truth. Does it really change anything?

    WILF wrote something a while back roughly stating we're too eager to put something into a doctrinal box, instead of accurately framing the problem and addressing it effectively. Like Ken, I'm extremely leary of all the theories, especially those not grounded in history.
    Hi Bill,

    I'm not trying to get anyone to bite. I'm simply trying to reframe the problem set as it is not as some would wish it to be. I used current doctrine as a beginning. As far as boxes are concerned, I'm don't fit into any of them...I disagree with everyone. If I must be labeled, then I'm closer to Ken White than anyone else. I suppose that is the perpetual pragmatic optimist in me- searching for solutions to unsolvable problems...

    If we need to use force, then I side with Wilf and I'll be the most brutal of them all.

    If we need to influence, then I tend towards Bob's World.

    If we need to reconsider ourselves, then I'm more adept to study Washington's final speech regarding the need to stay out of others affairs.

    Regardless of the approach, I'm just trying to attempt to reframe the problem set into something that I can comprehend. Honestly, I don't know if our current mission is counter-terrorism, nation-building, or (God forbid ((it's sunday, so i can say that))) the war on terror.

    v/r

    Mike

  19. #99
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    No you don't. De-escalation is good, as long as the enemy or potential enemy is complying with your will, and not you with his. If your ability to use violence is suppressing his, then we are making progress.
    that was an assumption of mine...you apply the force needed to be the "biggest tribe"...

  20. #100
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    who is actually doing the "strategic and operational planning", and supplying the bulk of the assets for "tactical-level operations" ?

    If the answer is the US, then according to another JP (not writing from my home computer, so I can't cite chap and verse; but IIRC, it's the JP on FID), that situation goes beyond FID with combat support and enters the realm of "war". That might be Bill's point - that's for him to say. But, it is my legal point - we are essentially a co-belligerent in the Astan Govt vs Taliban armed conflict. Similar legal situation as in Vietnam (IMO).
    Fair enough (and I never thought that I'd be contradicted by a lawyer when I cited doctrine and rules).

    My point is that what we've been doing since 9/11 surpasses doctrine and law. It moves into the realm of occupation.

    v/r

    Mike

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    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 01-25-2007, 01:47 PM

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