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Thread: "On War #325: How the Taliban Take a Village (Lind/Sexton)"

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Default "On War #325: How the Taliban Take a Village (Lind/Sexton)"

    http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/...indsexton.html

    ...
    TALIBAN CAN CONTROL WITH FEW FIGHTERS

    The Taliban method requires relatively few of their own personnel. Its strength is in the local subversion of the most basic levels of village organization and life. It is also a decentralized approach.
    ...

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    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Default I like it

    This about sums it up:

    US and Afghan forces must also devise and utilize tactics to fight outside and inside the village. This requires true light infantry and real counterinsurgency tactics employed by troops on the ground, not read from a “new” COIN manual by leadership in a support base. The tactics must entail lightly equipped and fast- moving COIN forces that go into villages and know how to properly interact with locals and identify Taliban insurgents. They must have the ability to take their time and stay in areas they have identified at the local level as worth trying to take back. Being moved from place to place and using armored vehicles while hardly reengaging local leadership will not work. Targeting identified high value targets will only result in the “whack-a-mole” syndrome. It’s demoralizing for US and Afghan troops, the American public, and the Afghans who just want to live in peace. A light infantry force conducting specialized reconnaissance in villages, and using proven tactics like trained visual trackers to follow insurgents into and out of villages, proper ambush techniques on foot outside the village, and knowing the local village situation are the key. Infantry tactics should use also vertical envelopment of Taliban fighters by helicopter and parachute to cut off avenues of escape. Troops should foot patrol into villages at night, talk with and document compounds and inhabitants for later analysis, and have a secure patrol base locally from which to operate. Mega bases or FOBS are only for support and units and tactics should be decentralized.
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    This is basic UW a fast approaching forgotten art thanks to COIN Psycho-Syndrome. This is what we should have been doing, indeed we did do it on a grander scale in 2001.

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    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    This is basic UW a fast approaching forgotten art thanks to COIN Psycho-Syndrome. This is what we should have been doing, indeed we did do it on a grander scale in 2001.
    But, Slapout, if we did something like this recommends, soldiers might be in danger! They might get attacked, they might get their supplies cut off, they might have to use locally available food, weapons, and ammunition, and they might not have readily available access to Gatorade!

    Surely, all of those things are much more important than creating any viable long-term solutions to instability in rural areas of Afghanistan...
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

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    Quote Originally Posted by IntelTrooper View Post
    This about sums it up:
    That sounds a lot like Fire Force/Selous Scouts redux adjusted to suit the local AO to this part-timer...or not?

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yes -- as well as what US, Strine

    and Kiwis were doing in many units in Wiet Nam. Nothing new, just takes decent training and will...

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    Default As well, as patience and multi-year "tours" ...

    I don't think the Taliban have the concept of rotations.

    What I found interesting is how the Taliban adapted the three-sided village structure to their own purposes by subversion and infiltration. Use what is locally available before importing goods - so to speak.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flagg View Post
    That sounds a lot like Fire Force/Selous Scouts redux adjusted to suit the local AO to this part-timer...or not?
    Concur...

    The context sounds remarkably a lot like activity in the Tribal Trust Lands during that war as well.

    Food and blankets left outside living quarters or in guest quarters is akin to village women walking outside of the kraal with food and drink, headed to the terrs who holed up nearby as they made transit through the area.

    The techniques for impressing a village under the Taliban thumb are also very similar.

    Many similarities. Rhodesian security forces, like ISAF, could have won that conflict, had they resorted to unrestricted warfare. They didn't though, and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. Hmmm, I wonder what we can learn from that aspect.

    ETA: i think it is an excellent piece, and although I will need to compare the analysis against analysis from others, this is just the sort of framework that I need to add to training that I am setting up. Good find! I have a thousand more questions for Sexton, and I wish there was a readily available point of contact for him. Anyone have any ideas, besides sending snail mail to Lind?
    Last edited by jcustis; 12-08-2009 at 08:24 AM.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    I had sometime around 02-05 an idea. Well, one that's interesting in this context...

    I wondered whether any army would be daring and flexible enough to quarter its troops not in forts. Foreign forces could have attempted to exploit hospitality by quartering (correct term) its troops in civilian houses (households without daughters/women at age 10-25) on a volunetary basis.

    This hospitality would have required the hosts to contribute to security and their advantage would have been construction efforts (dam, road) and services (school, doctor incl. basic veterinarian function, immunization) for the settlement as well as fertilizer gifts for hosts (more than they need) and the like.
    (Sooner or later, the soldiers would have lived in pairs in family house extensions.)


    That was of course a VERY daring idea because we employ barely adult 18-20 year olds instead of exclusively men in our armies. This produces troubles even in garrison back at home...


    Oh, and before I forget; imagine Western armies not outlawing relationships (marriage) with indigenous people. Unthinkable...soldiers actually creating reliable bonds in the region...unsuitable for a modern army in a foreign country...at the same time an ace for the TB!
    (I bet that many macho soldiers would love the role behaviour of Afghan wives...kinda Russian mail order brides.)

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Oh, and before I forget; imagine Western armies not outlawing relationships (marriage) with indigenous people. Unthinkable...soldiers actually creating reliable bonds in the region...unsuitable for a modern army in a foreign country...at the same time an ace for the TB!
    (I bet that many macho soldiers would love the role behaviour of Afghan wives...kinda Russian mail order brides.)
    Hmmm ... in what world do you think American soldiers and Marines would be interested in marrying Afghan women?

    As for allowing sexual relations, I think this would be an excellent idea if we wanted to be thrown out of Afghanistan in the quickest and most embarassing way possible.

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Hmmm ... in what world do you think American soldiers and Marines would be interested in marrying Afghan women?

    As for allowing sexual relations, I think this would be an excellent idea if we wanted to be thrown out of Afghanistan in the quickest and most embarassing way possible.
    Wasn't the Third Amendment to the Constitution written because we didn't like the English quartering Soldiers in our houses? Why would we do something to another country which we made unconstitutional in the USA?

    Agree with Tequila. We could do that the day after opening a whiskey bar in Waziristan.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    and Kiwis were doing in many units in Wiet Nam. Nothing new, just takes decent training and will...
    Ken, it is not exactly the same but it seem close to the old Mike Force concept to protect the Strategic Hamlets.....yes,no,maybe?

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Forced quartering isn't the same as quartering and thereby making the village rich (which after all isn't expensive).
    Keep in mind that AQ intermingled with Pashtuns like that; the Arabs weren't much less foreign to them than us.

    'Sexual relationships' isn't exactly the same as marriages.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that AQ intermingled with Pashtuns like that; the Arabs weren't much less foreign to them than us.
    AQ did not quarter themselves on villages - they mostly stayed up in their own camps or were invited guests of specific warlords, i.e. Jalaluddin Haqqani. Marriage alliances were contracted, but only after years of interaction.

    Also, AQ are all Muslim. ISAF is mostly not. That makes a huge difference.

    'Sexual relationships' isn't exactly the same as marriages.
    Both would be verboten in Afghanistan. First, Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslim men in most conservative Muslim societies, which Afghanistan definitely is. Secondly, Afghan women, especially in the rural Pashtun belts, generally do not make sexual decisions independent of family considerations. I don't see Afghan elders pushing family alliances on American soldiers. Even if they were, I don't see the average American soldier or Marine welcoming such advances. Your average 20-year-old grunt wants unencumbered sex from hot American chicks he can put on his camera phone and show the squad, not marriage to rural Pashtun women in burqas.

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Fuchs,

    I think there'd be more merit to the idea should the US intend on maintaining a sustained presence in the country. But the American narrative is about building a democratic and sovereign government, which would seem to preclude the establishment of the kinds of social relationships you are advocating.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    I tend to regard the status quo as malleable, and my experiences as well as history have shown me many examples of people turning upside down despite all previous assurances of their steadfastness. (Keep in mind the keywords "money" and "drug prohibition" in the Afghanistan context.)

    That seems to be the core of the opinion differences here.

    - - - - -

    Let's focus on the original story again and ditch my crazy idea for a while. It's quite rare that such a story goes public afaik.

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    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    What frightens me is that so many credible voices with on-the-ground experience are advocating this type of approach, yet it seems that RC-East commanders are hell-bent on ignoring it. Where are the indications that we are adapting our approach with enough urgency to create an acceptable outcome? What gives?
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

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    As a part-timer, with only one trip under my belt in a far more cruisy AO from an operational perspective, I wonder if 1950's Malaya(from what I have read) offers a possible solution(albeit a rather difficult one from the individual's perspective and something that may have already been covered in this forum).

    I recall reading about individual UK Field Intelligence pers in the Malaya conflict being strongly integrated into indigenous village day to day activity long-term, up to 3 or so years if I recall correctly and going native....I apologize if I got this wrong on UK Field Int, it's been years since I read that bit.

    I'm guessing it's safe to say that finding 50-100 qualified SNCOs or equivalent with the required skillset and the lack of homefront personal commitments that would allow such a very long deployment would be challenging, as well as possibly detrimental career progression issues, and many other potential problems I haven't even considered such as possible big army issues with being "gray" or "gray-ish" long-term.

    But I would think that modern transport logistics would allow pers to return home for periodic leave to reduce the significant hardship such a deployment would have.

    I am also assuming that the better continuity of indigenous contact/liason and the longer term personal relationships developed would result in the same benefits that "beat cop" law enforcement doctrine has in attempting to improve crime ridden neighbourhoods or at least more accurately filtering local indigenous agendas/objectives.

    I am assuming this would dramatically reduce the possible perception of a perpetual revolving door faceless contact indigenous folks may have and replace it with the same friendly, helpful, reliable, and consistant face year after year after year that has the ability to instantly bring down the hammer of god from the local Fire Force and tracker team operating in direct support of the shaggy Field Int guys.

    I'm ASSuming the idea of far longer deployments for a few key pers combined with light/fast Fire Force like pipehitters hasn't been covered here before, if it has, my apologies.

    Some questions I have are:

    How important is the continuity of key personal relationships at the village coalface between the village headman/men and the coalition liason in winning the local grid square war?

    IF it is a critical component in improving tangible long term rapport in winning the war in that grid square and IF it hasn't already been done, why isn't it being done now?

    IF the bad guys have time/patience in their arsenal, shouldn't the good guys respond by negating that real advantage at the local grid square level with a better display of longevity and continuity even if it's just 1-2 very long-serving pers surrounded by revolving faceless comrades?

    I just got back two months ago from a hunting trip with some ex-Rhodie and ex-Saffie COIN types...so I've got a bit of Fire Force and Selous Scouts doctrine front of mind at the moment after hearing a few stories over the braii.

    Long-time reader....new poster....here to learn...hopefully I haven't stepped too far out of my lane.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    IF the bad guys have time/patience in their arsenal, shouldn't the good guys respond by negating that real advantage at the local grid square level with a better display of longevity and continuity even if it's just 1-2 very long-serving pers surrounded by revolving faceless comrades?
    I agree wholeheartedly, and would take you up on this proposition, because I know it could mean good things. There would have to be some light treading though, as the unintended consequence could be a cycle of worse tactics, planning, and execution that does not change/shift as it does with current transitions of authority.

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    Thumbs up

    Various blogs and forums have started to reexamine the Rhodesian bush war and the tactics they used in hunting down insurgents. Someone rightly pointed out however that it was felled by the rules of warefare, although the selous scouts pushed every limit they could but even then there was fallout.

    I am doing a blog series on americans who served honorably in the rhodesian conflict. There are only a handful whom information can be gleaned . If anyone has anything to post or add on it, or stories or primary source material, Id love to add it. A select few americans were able to help in rhodesia with their experiences in vietnam for COIN. Although, with the SAS influences in malaysia, they were very innovative quite well on their own.
    www.theeagleswillgather.blogspot.com
    Regards !

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