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  1. #9
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    Oct 2007


    Zombie Thread...Arise!

    The British Approach to Counter-Insurgency: Myths, Realities, and Strategic Challenges, by I.A. Rigden (USAWC Strategy Research Project, 15 March, 2008):

    Modern British doctrine is founded on both myth and historical collective and regimental experience. Considered in the broader context of the total imperial experience a more comprehensive appreciation of counter-insurgency emerges. The realities of the British experience therefore become the premises for a counterinsurgency theory. What the study of the literature and experience suggest is a more general and inclusive list of realties that better define the basis for a comprehensive approach for the twenty-first century. It reveals at least 16 overarching premises that validate the current British principles and highlight areas not currently addressed in the AFM. Taken together these 16 premises constitute a British theory of counterinsurgency.
    Most of what this paper has to offer is not news to many students, let alone practioners, of COIN. But it is a good read, clear and concise, and we speed readers can digest it in about half an hour without missing anything. If one does not have to time or inclination to read Galula, Trinquiere, et al., this paper might be a worthwhile semi-substitute.

    Colonel Rigden's 16 Premises for COIN (abbreviated extracts):

    1. The first premise is that insurgency is war. War is a political act that requires an active decision to initiate it and a clear declaration of intent.

    2. The second premise is that every campaign is unique and the nature of the conflict must be understood. It takes time to fully understand the nature of the problem faced and to develop the lines of operation to deal with it.

    3. The third first premise is envisioning the long-term post-conflict end-state. As Sir Basil Liddell Hart wrote: “The object of the counter-insurgency war is to attain a better peace – even if only from your point of view. Hence it is essential to conduct war with constant regard to the peace you desire.”

    4. The fourth premise is that geography matters. World geography and the geography of a particular region is one of the most important factors when trying to understand the nature of the conflict and how to conduct a counter-insurgency. Geography does affect the mindset of the insurgent and the population.

    5. The fifth premise is do not fight a war or campaign that you cannot win. There is a potential decision point in the planning or conduct of every war or campaign in which the astute leader may conclude that the costs of success or risks of failure far outweighs the benefits of any success.

    6. The sixth premise is the requirement for a clear plan. This is one of Sir Robert Thompson’s five principles and is based on his experience in helping to formulate the Briggs Plan.41 It is an essential factor for success. The plan must, however, be tailored to the peculiar and unique circumstances of the insurgency.

    7. The seventh premise is that there is always a learning stage at the beginning of each campaign and that it is vitally important to learn from mistakes quickly. It takes time to understand the nature of each campaign and, in the process of doing so, it is inevitable that some mistakes will be made. [Note: I would not agree with the invocation of Boyd's OODA Loop here].

    8. The eighth premise is that politics is the focal point. Politics and war are social phenomena. One key to countering insurgency is therefore to understand the context and nature of the social environment. It is essential to understand what the people’s issues are and what can make them better.

    9. The ninth premise is that hearts follow minds in counter-insurgency. In Hanoi in 1956, paraphrasing Mao Tse Tung, Ho Chi Minh stated that “The people are like the fish in the sea, they swim with the current.”
    Making the people swim in the right direction, the legitimate authority’s current, is the key to winning in counter-insurgency. It is essential to alter their minds to reject the insurgents and accept the justness and legitimacy of the counter-insurgent’s cause and to concurrently win their hearts.

    10. The tenth premise is that the requirement for a coordinated multi-agency government approach is paramount to success. This is true for governments externally intervening and for existing internal governments. The overall strategy and ensuing plans must be collaborative and involve multi-agencies and actors using all of the elements of national power of both the supported and supporting governments. In doing this the activities have to be coordinated and synchronized so that they work together and not against one another.

    11. The eleventh premise is that it is essential to work within the rule of law. Rule of law is the visible symbol of moral justification. The aim must be to restore the civilian authority and police primacy if it does not already exist. Where it does not exist, the military must shoulder the burden until such time as the relevant civilian and police capabilities can be trained to fulfil their role.

    12. The twelfth premise is that counter-insurgents must only use the appropriate force necessary for the situation faced. The appropriate use of force is the minimum amount of force required to achieve a particular legitimate objective. This can range from full scale warfighting against an insurgent base deep in the jungle to the single arrest of an insurgent in an urban area. The British military has relied heavily on flexible Rules of Engagement (ROE) to ensure that only the minimum force necessary is used for each situation. Force must be proportionate and justified and the intent to use force clearly understood.

    13. The thirteenth premise is that campaigns must be appropriately resourced to be truly effective. Like all conflicts where fighting is likely, counter-insurgency campaigns are expensive in term of “blood and treasure.” It is, however, the “treasure” element of this equation that is often the most lacking in counter-insurgency campaigns. Such campaigns are often the most expensive to conduct and they generally take longer than conventional warfighting campaigns to conclude.

    14. The fourteenth premise is that accurate and timely information and intelligence are essential to success. Insurgency and counter-insurgency both work in the same strategic environment and the currency is intelligence that can be used to act.

    15. The fifteenth premise is that the use of indigenous forces is essential to building a an enduring peace for the country concerned. In all British campaigns local indigenous forces have played an important role. They have acted as the backbone of intelligence gathering, police forces and the local military.

    16. The sixteenth premise is that every new campaign will face increasing constraints and less freedom in the conduct of operations. The world of the twenty-first century is very different from fifty years ago. The Malayan campaign and Kenya were fought largely out of the glare of the media whereas Iraq and Afghanistan have twenty-four hour news coverage. Conflicts in the nineteenth century were reported weeks later. If history is our guide, this will only become worse and is a significant factor when considering undertaking a counter-insurgency or conducting a counter-insurgency campaign.
    Last edited by Norfolk; 06-16-2008 at 10:25 PM. Reason: For format.

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