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    Default MG Flynn (on intell mainly)

    CNAS, 4 Jan 09: Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan

    Mod's Note the title of this thread was changed in 2012 to MG Flynn, Fixing Intel so Relevant in Afghanistan & beyond and in January 2015 was charged to MG Flynn (on intell mainly) (ends).

    This paper, written by the senior intelligence officer in Afghanistan and by a company-grade officer and a senior executive with the Defense Intelligence Agency, critically examines the relevance of the U.S. intelligence community to the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. Based on discussions with hundreds of people inside and outside the intelligence community, it recommends sweeping changes to the way the intelligence community thinks about itself – from a focus on the enemy to a focus on the people of Afghanistan. The paper argues that because the United States has focused the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, our intelligence apparatus still finds itself unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which we operate and the people we are trying to protect and persuade.....
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-16-2016 at 03:10 PM. Reason: Mod's Note before thread title change

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    Jedburgh:

    I read this yesterday and, for the first time, said to myself, "Eureka!"

    Somebody was getting closer to the problems and solutions.

    Having served in that capacity on an ad hoc basis in Northern Iraq for a year, it was nice to see that somebody is finally getting it---the need to synthesize a reasonable and cohesive picture across all the bands and boundaries.

    On my first arrival in Iraq in December 2007, I started data gathering---only to find out how little anyone knew, or, if somebody did have a nugget, it all too often later proved to be of little value---especially the stuff I got from Baghdad and hauled up to Tikrit.

    Start with the most basic elements:

    I obtained three different provicial/district maps from US sources---on close analysis (which is what I do), I found that most of the boundaries and lines were different, and or inconsistent/irrational. Looked great printed on big official colorful maps, but, for example, How could the District boundaries of Bayji District in Salah ad Din not actually include the district capital, Bayji, which was shown as part of Tikrit District? How could parts of Taji, extending all the way into Baghdad, be part of Salah ad Din?

    So I started collecting population data---just basic stuff like how many people in each province and district. Everybody had data, but, if you put them side by side, they were all different, and some were so way-wrong as to be foolish. How could there be either 200,000, 300,000 or 450,000 people in the walled enclosure of Samarra? It had to be one number or another.

    Why did this kind of basic stuff matter?

    First, if you didn't know where the provincial and district boundaries were, how could you build civilian capacity, align US civ/mil activities to civilian government, know who was supposed to be (or become) in charge?

    Second, if you didn't know whether there were 200,000 or 450,000 people in Samarra, how could you plan and resource anything credible---civ or mil?

    It was in the Odyssey that followed---collecting the right information---that I learned so much of why we were stumbling around for so long. Especially when you returned to the states and saw so much of the contracted intel---tribal maps, etc...---that were, too often, not worth the paper they were printed on. Or worse, the windshield "Humint" stuff "collected" by some PhD staring out the grimy window of a gun truck...

    All too often, I found that folks in the field distrusted most of it, and for damned good reasons---but not having a clear picture left a lot to be desired, and precluded, in many instances, rapid and effective comprehensive strategies. (Iraq: Six years, one year at a time; A whole country, one battlespace at a time)

    When I was re-targeted to the UN DIBS Team in August 2008, we began a systemmatic assessment of the disputed internal boundaries, and all the very successful COIN strategies which Sadaam had employed for twenty-five years---mass resettlements, genocide, town destruction, tribal and factional cooptation, etc....

    Simply mapping and documenting that whole history was instructive---certainly, studying the ruthless and effective Sadaam Campaign, modelled directly on the "successful" British stuff, gives me a very uncomfortable perspective on many of the happy-talk COINISTA perspectives (it is about power). But it also laid bare most of the problems and potential solutions---not the windshield crap coming out of DC.

    Why were we stumbling around so long getting hit high and low from problems we didn't understand and enemies that were unforeseen? I don't know all the answers, but I saw the path to them....

    A few months ago, I started a blog about Afghan national population counts. Between input from Entropy and others, we settled on numbers far below the published figures of 33.6 million---around 25 instead. Then the CIA Factbook---oracle that it is---made a major revision. Instructive to me was not the revision, but the explanation: The figures had been developed by a desk jockey in the Census Bureau from old 1970's Era data projected forward. Here we are in a big war, and the best we know about the place is from outdated data projected forward by a Census Bureau deskjockey.

    No wonder...

    Now, at least, an authoritative group on the inside has laid out some of the basics.

    A good start after a decade in this business.

    Steve

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    Default Fortune Telling

    The AFP story quotes MG Flynn:

    "Major General Michael Flynn, the top NATO and US military intelligence chief in Afghanistan, said US-led forces in Afghanistan were "so starved" of accurate intelligence "many say their jobs feel more like fortune telling.""

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...czFC7AtcHP8fnw

    This article, more than anything, pounds home the points:

    US intelligence officers and analysts can do little but shrug in response to high-level decision-makers seeking the knowledge, analysis and information they need to wage a successful counterinsurgency
    said Flynn's report, released by a Washington think-tank.

    A failure to understand who the local Afghan powerbrokers are and ignorance of local economics and landowners had contributed to "hazy" knowledge
    , said the report on the website of the Center for a New American Security."

    What Sadaam had, which made his operation work, was a huge network of intel and controlsinto every aspect of Iraqi life. Between the census data, and and formally adopted political governance structures, nothing got past central view.

    One of the key things I was working on was development of a civilian declassified GIS system for Iraqi civ use. In the process, I worked with their internal census data, made based on UN guidelines.Even in 1990s, they knew every bongo truck, camel, irrigation ditch, well and internet cafe in the Country. They had maps of every major business, infrastructure component, and more often than not, the owners and associated details about each. Their land and tax records accounted for everybody and everything.

    So, while we were stumbling blindly, it was all there.

    What we were trying, and largely succeeded at doing in 2008, was not just pop/pol mapping, but basic infrastructure, industry, value chains, and trade patterns. Answering stupid questions like how much asphalt and cement capacity exists in a regionial critical, too, in determining how much reconstruction (especially for roads and bridges) can occur within available supporting resources. Dumb stuff, but critical.

    I sat through a briefing earlier this year where a group had been trying to glean tribal/familial relationships in Iraq. I shook my head: They were trying to read tea leaves and fortunes while the Iraqi land records showed everybody by name, and every piece of property, and we had already digitized most of the cadestral/property records, so it would have just taken a push of a button to reconcile names/families/tribes to actual properties; from their, any kind of regionalized data analysis would have been easy.

    The only gap, then, would be to field reckon the changes between pre-and post-occupation (resettlements, refugees), which, of itself was a driving measure of instability... Lots of accurate, easy targeting to do.

    In Iraq, they didn't have computerization, so they put everything on maps and hand-written records. The Ottomans had started that, then the Brits refined it, and the UN in the 1990's taught the mastery of it---basic enterprise accounting and management by the numbers.

    Afghanistan does, in fact, have a history of UN training, and some systems, like the Afghan Census agency (and UNDP), that follow that field. But, I suspect that for most places, the "shadow" has it all in his head, and doesn't need our technological approaches---but we do, if we are to out-maneuver him.

    Fortune-telling will not work in defeating the Shadow.

    Steve
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-05-2010 at 09:27 PM. Reason: Add quote marks

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    Haven't read this entirely yet, but I have some problems with the introduction:

    The paper argues that because the United States has focused the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, our intelligence apparatus still finds itself unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which we operate and the people we are trying to protect and persuade.
    and:

    Having focused the overwhelming majority of its collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the vast intelligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade. Ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced, incurious about the cor-
    relations between various development projects and the levels of cooperation among villagers, and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers – whether aid workers or Afghan soldiers – U.S. intelligence officers and analysts can do little but shrug in response to high level decision-makers seeking the knowledge, analysis, and information they need to wage a successful counterinsurgency.
    Oh boy, where to begin, especially with that second part.

    CENTCOM and ISAF/USFOR-A Commanders set guidance with respect intelligence through their PIR's (priority intelligence requirments). PIR's are what drive intelligence collection and analysis. They tell the intelligence function what information a Commander requires in order to conduct the operations he/she wants to conduct. Higher priority requirements naturally receive the majority of collection and intelligence support.

    PIR specifics obviously can't be discussed in an open forum, but let me suggest that one reason the intel community is "unable" to answer those questions is because it hasn't been directed to answer them. Anyone with SIPR or JWICS access can read the Commander's PIR's for themselves and what one will find is that the PIR's today are not substantially different from what they were five years ago.

    In many ways, however, I do agree with the criticisms in that we are institutionally ignorant of some of the fundamentals. I know that I've personally tried to educate myself to at least address my personal deficits, but without institutional guidance from Commanders and policymakers the system isn't going to respond.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-05-2010 at 09:34 PM. Reason: Fix spacing in quote

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    One more thing. We don't know about the economics, landowners and who the powerbrokers are at the local level because there is currently little capability to collect such information, even assuming there is a definitive answer (ie. who "owns" land is often in dispute). We haven't (and still don't) have the forces to spend time with locals to learn this information, we have a huge (and probably enduring) language deficit, and we continually run into the problem where Afghan expertise is, at best, biased and at worst, completely compromised. This is why much of our intelligence in this area is based on acadmic work, much of it historical. All the analysts in the world cannot overcome a collection deficit, nor the fact that Afghanistan, until recently, has played second fiddle to Iraq in terms of resources.

    I'm going to read this today - hopefully it addresses these issues in depth.

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    Entropy:

    I think we're of a similar mind on a lot of this, though I applaud that a CJ2 is taking interest in the process to this extent.

    I too, think commanders and prior S/G/J-2s are to be held accountable for not asking the right questions. PIRs were either nonsensical or simple-minded when I was in theater last year.

    Also, I do have some trouble with fielding hordes of "analysts" who are also collecting while there is a simultaneous collection effort by HCTs, HETs, HATs, and other agencies. Perhaps they will refine the roles of properly trained HUMINT collectors to continue focusing on targeting while these "analysts" focus on more readily available information. I hope that is the case, because we were constantly pulled in every direction.
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    Entropy:

    Right. It is the system, and it is tactically driven.

    The gap really underscores my on-going criticism of the Humint effort, too heavy on anthropology, and devoid of the basic background studies needed to understand the problems and solutions.

    Myself and a group of NGA staff in Baghdad last summer could have written the same report, about a critical background problem that has been in our faces for at least a few years now.

    Social sciences include basic geography, geology, economic, market and infrastructure information, demography and demographics (actually two materially different specialties), history, ... and anthropology.

    We do not have the basic suite of tools for Afghanistan that would be a bedrock for any routine public administration functions---including analysis and planning. Why? Who is responsible?

    Well, we can point to the stripping bare of US State and USAID in the 1960s-2000s as one answer, and to the fact that CIA, too, seems to be tactical, and not strategic. That defines the problem, but not the solution.

    The bottom line of Humint was, as I understood it, supposed to be that we understood that the US no longer that strategic, background framework which the DoD knew it would need in these new missions. So, where is the product? When is it going to be created? Can't Humint or NSC jump on this immediately? Can't ISAF staff, and or direct an immediate solution (as you have described)?

    In the field, and here, I find so many people reluctant to use US background data, and I agree. The stuff they get from the present system isn't worth the paper its printed on, let alone the millions spent for it.

    But, as this report notes, the problem is not fixed.

    I believe the recommendations are a good first step, but wisdom cannot be gained by scurrying from one place to another. Somebody has to take charge of and focus on establishing a background framework of what is needed, assign people with the appropriate training and wisdom to pursue and collect it, then compile it, and use it for immediate actionable results. The RC levels are the right place, linked both higher and lower.

    But a lot of this work, from experience, could be better done stateside as long as it is directed and closely linked to the field.

    If, like the DoS Civilian Reconstruction Corps, it becomes a bureaucracy in evolution that, at best, creates demonstration projects, the effort will be wasted. MG Flynn needs to target, resource, and direct it---now---or it will not happen.

    Steve

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    Default A Report Published by CNAS

    Why do three members of the DoD have to use a Think Tank for publishing their analysis. I seem to remember a huge furor within the last year (AUG 09 IIRC) when their boss made comments about a broken system/strategy for ops in that region in a poublic forum in the UK.
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    Default Help From Above

    The issue in my tactical brain is that we have again brought in "help" from on high, when in fact, we have enough brain power on the ground to conduct the "analysis" that the paper talks about. In the case before us, we have analysts who will visit the tactical level to do collection - interviews of the ground forces. However, in a country the size of texas, we have a large number of troops all of whom have key data to the solution. Asking these analysts to fly around Afghanistan and interview these folks will only place a dent in the collection problem while increasing the helicopter mission requirements, likely taking them away from supporting tactical forces.

    This issue is further compounded by the fact that all data in Afghanistan is contextual (like elsewhere, but maginified by the very specific and intensive tribal differences.) Sending an analyst to cover Helmand province one week and another the next may result in very skewed reporting. Like sending the Dallas reporter to cover the Philadelphia Eagles training camp and expecting unbiased reports.

    In addition, this will not solve the larger investigative questions like project data and other information that requires longer term collection efforts. I think the paper talks about how many telephone poles are in a given area - shows infratstructure improvement - but there is no way a visiting analyst will capture that. In turn, we would need to get boots out on the ground to conduct these surveys.

    Therefore, we need to get a real solution in place - one which allows us to capture information (whatever available information there is) right from the source - the warfighter. Feed these troops managed, real, and beneficial IRs from the commander, prioritized based on timeliness of the needs (rather than the 100 most important questions of the day). This information needs to be managed and stored and shared to these analysts as well as back down to the lowest echelons.

    And after 4 years of screaming this message, we are still trying to force help from above (and after 4 years, I know the warfighter wants less help and just better requirements to respond to. . . )
    "New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Port View Post
    The issue in my tactical brain is that we have again brought in "help" from on high, when in fact, we have enough brain power on the ground to conduct the "analysis" that the paper talks about.
    I think the problem is and has been that far too many tasks demand the attention of the troops, and without an infrastructure and reporting system, not to mention people to maintain the records, that vital information has repeatedly been collected, reported, and lost.

    In multiple meetings with government officials, village elders, etc., I was chastized as I ran down my list of questions -- "Every time a new one of you shows up, you ask us these same questions. Why don't you record this information somewhere, or why don't the people before you tell you about this?" It was incredibly embarassing to get schooled by rural Afghans, who have little understanding of the complexities of our ridiculous bureaucracy, and still understood that we were lacking this minor capacity.

    Asking these analysts to fly around Afghanistan and interview these folks will only place a dent in the collection problem while increasing the helicopter mission requirements, likely taking them away from supporting tactical forces.
    I think the helicopter thing was a selling point for higher-ups, not neccessarily a realistic scenario. What I took away that instead of being static as part of the battalion or brigade headquarters, that these analysts could spend time in their assigned area of expertise. I hope that's the case.

    Sending an analyst to cover Helmand province one week and another the next may result in very skewed reporting. Like sending the Dallas reporter to cover the Philadelphia Eagles training camp and expecting unbiased reports.
    My understanding was that analysts would be tasked geographically, so someone working on Helmand would only work on Helmand.

    In addition, this will not solve the larger investigative questions like project data and other information that requires longer term collection efforts. I think the paper talks about how many telephone poles are in a given area - shows infratstructure improvement - but there is no way a visiting analyst will capture that. In turn, we would need to get boots out on the ground to conduct these surveys.
    I agree that using these analysts as collectors is not a good solution and that the troops need to be collecting the information. Again, I'm hoping that the real difference here will be having someone assigned and responsible to track and maintain these types of records for an extended period, rather than just getting assignments to collect information on a whim of the PRT S-2 or battalion S-3, which they eventually forget and all the collected information disappears into the ether.
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    Default Good points Jason

    I couldn't agree more that at the tactical level... it is more about arming a patrol with the right/managable IRs/questions than it is getting some data dump from on high... and to be honest from on valley to the next the questions may very well differ...

    However, because of that nature... how do you/can you aggregate those data points into a coherent larger picture? and does it even make sense to do so??? Of course that begs the question and obsession with metrics of success because that is how "policy/strategy" has been quantified... ugh its enough to make the head hurt...

    However I will say this... even though a series of local optimized solutions doesn't always add up to a perfect "big picture" outcome, its not a bad start... and all those PLT-sized local solutions are within the means of a company commander to integrate, and CO-sized for a BN to integrate, yada yada yada...

    Am I wrong, but I've been under the impression that much of the junior officer and mid to junior grade NCO ranks have largely added this ability to their personal kit bag? I have far more faith in the ability of CO-level leaders and operations to get their piece of Aghanistan straight, than I do some top down effort... I'd think we (the Coalition) could live with that outcome...

    now that i've spun myself into the ground I will end

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    Default MG Flynn on the State of the Insurgency

    Hat tip to KOW for picking this up, a ppt by Major General Flynn, entitled 'State of the Insurgency Trends, Intentions and Objectives' (Unclassified) and the link is:http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2010/01/fly...+(Kings+of+War)

    KOW has a summary and I cannot improve on it.

    Then he drops what might be the biggest bomb in the entire deck: 'The Afghan insurgency can sustain itself indefinitely' at least in terms of arms and ammunition, funding, and recruits. Now, that is a pretty grim portrait. Of course, the Taliban are not supermen, they have weaknesses and, according to Flynn, they are not yet a popular movement throughout the country. (moving on)

    But he does make it clear what he is thinking: 'Taliban strength is the perception that its victory is inevitable; reversing momentum requires protecting the population and changing perceptions'.

    Seems sound to me. The rub, of course, is trying to turn that good advice into action and then reality.
    I am surprised SWC did not pick this up earlier, although the ppt is dated late December 2009. One of the four comments raises issues that have appeared in many threads: end state sought, objectives etc.
    davidbfpo

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    Default An Irish man adds

    The former UN Afghan intermediary, expelled in 2007, was interviewed AM today on BBC Radio 4; link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00q3fr2

    Zenpundit cites Semple, alas without the link or reference, but IMHO accords with his radio interview:
    Michael Semple —with two decades experience working in Afghanistan and Pakistan... that the Taliban and its allies cannot win. The balance of power....has shifted toward the Taliban’s natural enemies, and the Taliban hides this reality by dressing their civil war in the clothes of an insurgency being fought against Western powers. If this assessment is right, there may yet be hope for U.S. and allied efforts in Afghanistan.
    Link to Zenpundit: http://zenpundit.com/

    Ho, hum - a MG -v- an Irishman. Nothing like the un-expected.
    davidbfpo

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    Default depressing thoughts

    It seems to me that it is entirely possible that neither side can win: that the international community cannot defeat the insurgency or build a stable, functional, Afghan government that can assure security and exercise effective control over large parts of the country, while the Taliban cannot (given both their ethnic and sectarian opponents, as well as rivals within the Pashtun community) capture Kabul as they did in September 1996.

    I think I've made this point before, the real risk—from an Afghan perspective---is that this become the prolonged reality. The international community slowly disengages from a COIN fight is can't win, but throws enough money and guns at the ANA/ANP, the ex-Northern Alliance, southern warlords, and others (including Iranian support to Hazara militias) to stalemate the Taliban. The Taliban, on the other hand, consolidate practical control over parts of the country, while fighting a continued civil war.

    The depressing model here is Lebanon, 1975-90. Everyone (Israel, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the PLO, Iran, etc.) simply threw resources at local clients in such a way to prevent their opponents from 'winning."
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    David:

    The quote from Sempel is from the CNP conference in November.

    Rex:

    We are back to the same issue. If the Afghan government does not step up and become effective in at least 80% of the country, and, at the least, reasonably acceptable to a majority 60%+ in each, then we are chasing our tale.

    Today, NATO has appointed the British Ambassador as it's Supernumary. No clue how that might relate/conflict with the current civilian effort, but the hope is that during tomorrow's one day conference in London, all things left unresolved for the last decade will miraculously resolve themselves since the newly-elected Karhzai government is on board (unlike the old one that wasn't very well thought of.

    Morning is security and international cooperation. After lunch is sub-national governance. Take heart. It will be a completely new day on Friday.

    The conference streams world wide so you can watch the miracles live and in color (with the usual internet stutters and delays).

    Steve

    PS- Sure wish I wasn;t on the same page with MG Flynn--a tough row to hoe.

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    I linked to this presentation in the thread on MG Flynn's report a couple of weeks ago.

    Rex,
    It seems to me that it is entirely possible that neither side can win: that the international community cannot defeat the insurgency or build a stable, functional, Afghan government that can assure security and exercise effective control over large parts of the country, while the Taliban cannot (given both their ethnic and sectarian opponents, as well as rivals within the Pashtun community) capture Kabul as they did in September 1996.
    That's pretty much where I've been for a couple of years now. Personally, I think Afghanistan is ungovernable in its present state. It's frankly depressing.

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    Default A matter of perspective...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    It seems to me that it is entirely possible that neither side can win: that the international community cannot defeat the insurgency or build a stable, functional, Afghan government that can assure security and exercise effective control over large parts of the country, while the Taliban cannot (given both their ethnic and sectarian opponents, as well as rivals within the Pashtun community) capture Kabul as they did in September 1996.

    I think I've made this point before, the real risk—from an Afghan perspective---is that this become the prolonged reality. The international community slowly disengages from a COIN fight is can't win, but throws enough money and guns at the ANA/ANP, the ex-Northern Alliance, southern warlords, and others (including Iranian support to Hazara militias) to stalemate the Taliban. The Taliban, on the other hand, consolidate practical control over parts of the country, while fighting a continued civil war.

    The depressing model here is Lebanon, 1975-90. Everyone (Israel, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the PLO, Iran, etc.) simply threw resources at local clients in such a way to prevent their opponents from 'winning."
    And perspectives drive priorities, which in turn shape the nature of engagement.

    When one defines 'victory' what perspective, exactly, are they assessing that from? Even in politics we describe these things in terms of one particular candidate or party "winning" and the other "losing." What of the populace? How did the populace fare? Did the people win or lose or really have no change in their lives from the perceived victory or loss?

    This goes to what I have described as "Government-Centric engagement" (where one commits themselves or their country to the preservation of a particular government or even form of government over some other); or "Threat-Centric engagement" (where one commits themselves or their country to the defeat of some particular threat) with little regard to the impact on the very populace that is either governed by that government you seek to sustain (or take down, for that matter); or from which the threat one is hard-set to defeat emanates from.

    I believe we see a bit of both of this in Afghanistan. We can say we are conducting "Population-Centric COIN", but that is really describing TACTICs, not the strategic/operational focus. At the strategic/operational level we simply cannot seem to wean ourselves from making our priority the preservation of some form or particular man in government; or from the defeat of some particular threat.

    This is the phenomenon that I attempted to address in the two papers that I published regarding what I termed "Populace-centric engagement." (Thread and links on SWJ). Suggesting that in the emerging information age with vastly empowered populaces and corresponding evolving perspectives on "sovereignty" that now, more than ever, it might be far more effective to worry less about preserving or defeating governments; or defeating "threats" in the pursuit of national interests; but to instead focus on designing engagement that builds relationships with the very populaces of the world as well.

    In reality this in simplest terms is a shift of priority. We state that the Defeat of the Taliban is NOT our priority in Afghanistan. We state that the preservation of the Karzai Government is NOT our priority in Afghanistan. We state instead, that enabling stability, good governance, and a positive relationship with the PEOPLE of Afghanistan is our priority.

    This puts Mr. Karzai on notice that we are not here to protect, preserve or even support HIM. He is expendable. He must lead, follow, or get out of the way.

    This prevents us from painting ourselves into an "exit strategy-less" corner that makes "defeat" of some particular threat the measure of success, when in fact, that threat may well hold a portion of the answer.

    This prevents us from designing a scheme of engagement that may appear to make headway in preserving governmental stability in a country, or in quelling threats to that government, but does so on the backs of the very populace that government is supposed to support. I believe far too much of our Cold War and post-Cold War engagement in the Middle East in particular falls into this category. And I believe it is this very form of engagement that forms the existential threat to the U.S.; not the governments or threats that draw so much of our attention currently.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 01-27-2010 at 05:30 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    In reality this in simplest terms is a shift of priority. We state that the Defeat of the Taliban is NOT our priority in Afghanistan. We state that the preservation of the Karzai Government is NOT our priority in Afghanistan. We state instead, that enabling stability, good governance, and a positive relationship with the PEOPLE of Afghanistan is our priority.

    This puts Mr. Karzai on notice that we are not here to protect, preserve or even support HIM. He is expendable. He must lead, follow, or get out of the way.

    Just a few questions.

    How do you operationalize such a shift in priority? How do you get the people to trust you, the foreign occupier, over Karzai, the Taliban or the local warlord? Karzai cannot be easily separated from his constituents and base of support. Once he is kicked to the curb, how do you prevent him and his allies from throwing a wrench into your efforts to bring governance and stability to the Afghan people (which is something that's happened at the provincial level on at least a couple of occasions)? Similarly, If defeat of the Taliban is not a priority, then what will prevent them from promoting instability? What do you plan to do about local leadership & powerbrokers, who are the gatekeepers to the loyalty local populations, to say nothing of the major players? Does the US and NATO have the resources and resilience build governance over the long haul provided Karzai doesn't play ball? In short, good governance is your goal, so how do you get there in the mess that is Afghanistan?

  19. #19
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    We can say we are conducting "Population-Centric COIN", but that is really describing TACTICs, not the strategic/operational focus.
    It's not even a tactic, and operations are designed to enable tactics. I see no connection with Strategy, except to ensure tactics are delivered at the right time and place.

    POP-COIN is rubbish. It's a bad idea born of bad thinking. Why do the POP-COINs are basically dragging the population into the fight. Best way bar none to protect the population is to focus on breaking the will of the enemy.

    It works. It's proven to work. What the POP-COINers keep referencing is irrelevant tactical action that has folk believe you are "winning battles" but "loosing the war." This is only true when tactics and operations are done very badly. Winning a battle should inextricably and immediately lead to next engagement. - Which is why the core functions are Find, Fix, Strike, and Exploit!
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    - 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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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    In reality this in simplest terms is a shift of priority. We state that the Defeat of the Taliban is NOT our priority in Afghanistan. We state that the preservation of the Karzai Government is NOT our priority in Afghanistan. We state instead, that enabling stability, good governance, and a positive relationship with the PEOPLE of Afghanistan is our priority.

    This puts Mr. Karzai on notice that we are not here to protect, preserve or even support HIM. He is expendable. He must lead, follow, or get out of the way.
    What if he can't lead and won't follow, which on the basis of form to date seems likely? How do you propose to get him out of the way?

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