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Thread: British COIN (merged thread)

  1. #21
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    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.

  2. #22
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Zombie thread: learning the lessons

    Excellent find. A light reading over breakfast and maybe read again later - when printed. Interesting that this article by a British Army officer, studying in the USA and published in the USA. I wonder if it will be re-printed here, perhaps in British Army Review?

    I cannot think of an equivalent review of the British experience in counter-terrorism, where the police / law enforcement / intelligence agencies have primacy. An experience with several different strands: Northern Ireland, domestic or mainland (not exclusively Irish) and overseas (e.g. Greece).

    Perhaps others (Slap ?) know of a review of the American (inc. Canadian) CT experience?

    From my armchair and not being a soldier I cannot comment on whether the military will gain from this. Not that the lessons of Basra will influence readers.

    davidbfpo

    PS Not sure if Wagram still visits SWC, so will email him to look again.

  3. #23
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Good find.
    I am somewhat concerned with Norfolk's synopsis of premise 7. Rigden does not limit learning to the start of the campaign. He notes the need for continuous reassessment as the campaign continues. As Rigden, rightly, notes, learning is not a "done once and over" process.

    A corollary to premise 7, by the way, is that the fact that one does not make mistakes early on does not preclude the possibility of making mistakes as the campaign progesses.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

  4. #24
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Hi david, contrary to popular belief the Phoneix program was based primaraly on law enforcement. It is a good example of a LE how to do it approach.

    The other was COINTELPRO of the 1960's of domestic spying of the US govt. on US population, good example of what you should not do!!!


    more later busy at my day job.
    Last edited by slapout9; 06-17-2008 at 01:35 PM. Reason: add stuff, spilling stuff to

  5. #25
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default TWO Things

    a.) The British Army Review is an excellent publication. It is the sole bastion of real military thought in the UK.. but it's restricted, thus not on the internet. This is real spoiler for those of us who write for it, and a complete choker for everyone else as very few folks get to read it, and the print run in minute. I urge those of you who can write, to submit articles. PM me for the Editors contact details.

    b.) British COIN TTPs (unlike our very mediocre platoon tactics manual) are not generally written down, or stay the same for very long, and are very often forgotten, and have to be re-learnt. However, their main strength is that they change very rapidly to adapt to the conditions and threats and get disseminated in detailed pre-deployment training. Thus copying, or mimicking the British Army can lead to disaster unless, you have some deeper context.. and if you're smart then it's not a problem.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    Good find.
    I am somewhat concerned with Norfolk's synopsis of premise 7. Rigden does not limit learning to the start of the campaign. He notes the need for continuous reassessment as the campaign continues. As Rigden, rightly, notes, learning is not a "done once and over" process.

    A corollary to premise 7, by the way, is that the fact that one does not make mistakes early on does not preclude the possibility of making mistakes as the campaign progesses.
    Sorry wm, I did not intend to misrepresent Col. Rigden's 7th Premise; I simply cut-and-pasted the first few lines of each of the 16 Premises in order to save space while providing a rough-and-ready overview of said premises. My apologies.
    Last edited by Norfolk; 06-17-2008 at 10:41 PM.

  7. #27
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Hi david, contrary to popular belief the Phoenix program was based primarily on law enforcement. It is a good example of a LE how to do it approach.

    The other was COINTELPRO of the 1960's of domestic spying of the US govt. on US population, good example of what you should not do!!!


    more later busy at my day job.

    To continue The Phoenix Adviser handbook has been posted on here several times and on the front page it designates the SVN National Police as the ones primarily responsible and as I said it was primarily a LE project which was part of CORDS program. During the same time the evil opposite was the COINTELPRO program being run at nearly the same time, supposedly to stop subversion,espionage,etc. in our country.

    These two projects are the only ones that I personally know of and have read and or talked to people involved with these programs. One area that I did want to research was the now defunct School of the Americas. All top secret hush,hush so there is probably some good studies stored away somewhere.

    Our own John T. Fishel has written(I love all his stuff having been south of the border a couple of times) and been involved with this in the Central/South American AO so when he reads this I hope he may respond. Do a search on back issues of Military Review and his name will pop up with some really good articles.


    There used to be an International Police Academy run out of Washington,D.C. that did some good studies on LE in COIN type situations. Ken White will remember this one. Later Slap
    Last edited by slapout9; 06-17-2008 at 11:30 PM. Reason: fix stuff

  8. #28
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
    Sorry wm, I did not intend to misrepresent Col. Rigden's 7th Premise; I simply cut-and-pasted the first few lines of each of the 16 Premises in order to save space while providing a rough-and-ready overview of said premises. My apologies.
    "No harm, no foul," as we used to say on the basketball court.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

  9. #29
    Council Member MattC86's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Not that the lessons of Basra will influence readers.
    I sense there's a strong revisionist current in the US "COIN community" (for abject lack of a better term) claiming the British aren't so good at COIN after all - and pointing to Basra as the proof. Abu Muqawama was talking about that a few weeks ago. That's part of the whole "patting ourselves on the back" phenomenon I find so aggravating among many American commentators.

    To me the key is, as always, proper context. The Northern Ireland policing/stability ops did not prepare the British Army as well for Basra or Helmand as they thought. But one needn't look very hard to see the influence of Robert Thompson types in US doctrine, nor even British influence in how we've handled sectarian relations in Iraq. . .

    Definitely an interesting read, Norfolk. Thanks.

    Regards,

    Matt
    "Give a good leader very little and he will succeed. Give a mediocrity a great deal and he will fail." - General George C. Marshall

  10. #30
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattC86 View Post
    To me the key is, as always, proper context. The Northern Ireland policing/stability ops did not prepare the British Army as well for Basra or Helmand as they thought. But one needn't look very hard to see the influence of Robert Thompson types in US doctrine, nor even British influence in how we've handled sectarian relations in Iraq. . .
    You are so right. The first 3-5 years of Northern where chaotic and counter productive. It was only 30 years of hard knocks, that made us any good, and the colonial experience was mostly irrelevant. Basra ran less than 5 years.

    - but some Northern Ireland stuff has been very successfully applied in Helmand.

    ...if you know anything that Thompson said that was either original, insightful and useful, please point me at it.
    Last edited by William F. Owen; 06-18-2008 at 05:56 PM. Reason: I forget
    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

  11. #31
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Wilf,I think Kitson had a lot more to do with Ireland than Thompson. They also had the great advantage of speaking English.

  12. #32
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Wilf,I think Kitson had a lot more to do with Ireland than Thompson. They also had the great advantage of speaking English.

    Kitson is useful and from my Regiment. Regardless of the theatre, I never understand why Thompson is deemed such an expert.
    Last edited by William F. Owen; 06-18-2008 at 07:21 PM. Reason: can't spell "from"
    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. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Kitson is useful and from my Regiment. Regardless of the theatre, I never understand why Thompson is deemed such an expert.
    I suspect that you are being rhetorical, but for what its worth:

    1. his performance as a practioner in Malaysia;
    2. his observations from SVN; and
    3. Defeating Communist Insurgency(you may argue that there is 'nothing new or original' in it, that does not detract from the usefulness of the text as a succint analysis and description of an insurgency phenomena).

    Cheers

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 06-19-2008 at 01:48 AM. Reason: spelling

  14. #34
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    I suspect that you are being rhetorical, but for what its worth:

    1. his performance as a practioner in Malaysia;
    2. his observations from SVN; and
    3. Defeating Communist Insurgency(you may argue that there is 'nothing new or original' in it, that does not detract from the usefulness of the text as a succint analysis and description of an insurgency phenomena).
    Not rhetorical in any way. I am well aware of Thompson's reputation, and his written work, some of which I have read. I see both Julian Paget and Frank Kitson as being better writers, practioners and more useful, but based on your advice I may give him another look.
    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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    Thank you davidbfpo for having warned me...BAR is such a good read it's a shame it's so hard to find.

  16. #36
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default CATOM and Templer

    I have just acquired an original 1958 copy of the "Conduct of Anti-terrorist Operations in Malaya."

    It's brilliantly written and complete antidote to the sort of FM3-24 stuff we see today.

    What is more, stuffed in the back of the manual was 4 pages of a typed interview with FM Gerald Templer, hand corrected by someone unknown. I have no idea of how authentic it is, but it is extremely interesting and concerns his view pertaining to the US in Vietnam. It may well be un-published.

    I think the interview date is about 1966/7, and it rather stresses the differences, rather than the similarities between Malaya and Vietnam.

    He also refers to "hearts and Minds" as a "nauseating phrase"
    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

  17. #37
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default Developments

    The CATOM manual bears the name of "Lt Col P.G. Fleming, MA Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry"

    Doing some "Googling" I found this,

    http://koyli.com/remembrance/ltcolfleming.htm

    This seems to be the man, who owned the manual. He only died recently.
    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

  18. #38
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    Great find, Wilf! Beyond the inherent value of the content itself and the added value of the enclosed interview, the provenance of previous ownership is very interesting.

  19. #39
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Wasn't the insurgency in Malaya a very unique case with little to tell about other small wars?

    The population situation, the de-colonialization context, the ideological dimension - it looks to me as if that war is only good for good anecdotes (like that the CVR/T) family was allegedly designed to be not too wide to pass the natural rubber plantation's trees in Malaya - those trees were planted orderly in a specific spacing).

  20. #40
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Wasn't the insurgency in Malaya a very unique case with little to tell about other small wars?

    The population situation, the de-colonialization context, the ideological dimension - it looks to me as if that war is only good for good anecdotes (like that the CVR/T) family was allegedly designed to be not too wide to pass the natural rubber plantation's trees in Malaya - those trees were planted orderly in a specific spacing).
    I think the CT Ops in Malaya laid the ground work for UK "best practice" for COIN, and that held up under scrutiny until Northern Ireland.

    CVR/T copied it's dimensions from the FV-600 series which was used extensively in COIN Ops. In 1951, the FV-600 could withstand a 9kg land mine under any wheel station!!
    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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