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Old 05-23-2007   #41
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Old 05-24-2007   #42
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Default COIN ideas

First, I'd like to mention that I doubt very much that it's a good decision to become engaged in a COIN campaign outside of your own nation.
It's usually a hint that you have your troops where they don't belong, probably as unjustified invaders now occupying a foreign country.
A puppet regime asking for your presence and protection is no excuse to me, even not if it's 'democratic'. It lacks sovereignty as long as you're there with your troops.


Anyway, I have some - let's say out-of-the-box - ideas for COIN that try to address common problems in COIN.

A)
Raising indigenous security forces - competent, quick. And to have a credible exit timetable.
My idea for this is to have recruits as 'shadows' of your own enlisted soldiers. For each soldiers there'll be an indigenous recruit who just passed a three-month basic training. He'll learn on the job.
The NCO's observe which shadows are promising enough for NCO jobs and take them as their shadows, recruits from basic training filling the gaps.
After about two years the first indigenous NCOs will be sent to an officer course and become shadows of lieutenants. Senior officers need to be produced somehow else. This would take about three to four years until line companies would have competent shadows. In the fourth year the shadows become the primary units and act independently, the occupying company only as backup. After four years, the occupying company leaves and the shadow company becomes fully operational.
The recruits should (if the country is divided by ethics and/or religion) be at most to one third of local origin, the rest being from different regions - to avoid some problems that are common in inhomogenous country's armies.

If anybody believes that four years isn't enough - compare it to the force buildup of the U.S. in 1941-1945. Three years is already enough if we refrain from over-ambitious requirements.

The language problem could be solved within a year - it's simple for evena dult people to learn about 2000 words of a foreign language in a year and communication by gesture helps a lot. The buddy relationship between soldier and shadow and direct responsibility for the competence of your shadow should encourage quick learning.

The shadow concept has in my opinion several advantages
- clear timeframe
- competence can be observed very well
- atrocities are less likely
- understanding of the civilian society is enhanced
- It's almost impossible that in such a relationship new forces supposedly loyal to the central government are in fact local militias not loyal to the government.



B)
Driving around. How to avoid IED's and other ambushes?
Think about it; what does the IED operator depend on the most? Identification. If he cannot tell which one of the 500 trucks per hour that pass his IED is an enemy, he becomes useless.

My idea is to use trucks acquired locally. A repair show repairs the dynamic components (without changing outer appearance or sound) and includes some more equipment. A driver in uniform but mostly looking like the local truck drivers steers the vehicle, sometimes but not always with another soldier looking the same next to him (let's say his shadow;-) ).
This truck leaves the base with a squad or half squad for patrol or whatever.
After leaving the base, the need to stop some times and set up ambushes to intercept possibly shadowing enemy forces.
If on patrol, they can easily live off these trucks for days before they return to the base, buying additional foot and drinking water from locals (surprisingly and therefore not poisoned).
If they run into a situation that requries reinforcements, they can wait till those reinforcements arrive and remain undetected.
In the famous "A Stryker approaches a compound unheard other than a tracked vehicle and the raid preserves the element of surprise." example, this truck would easily beat any million-$ vehicle. It could even have some armor plating to protect against rifle fire.



C)
Bases...

It's common practice to build a kind of defended fort in an occupied country and to tie up lots of troops with the services and defence of the camp.
At the same time, theorists claim that troops need to be in close contact with the local population and to cooperate, win hearts and minds and so on.
I have a different suggestion that eliminates a lot of the logistical footprint, alienation and other problems ... if it works.

My suggestion is to exploit the hospitality which is usually a very strong cultural element in rural areas - especially un less developed countries. Hospitality is often a matter of family honor.
My scenario is that when a company needs to be based in a small town the captain meets the town's elders together with his translator. He makes promises as well as asks whether they want his protection for the next four years. He wouldn't meddle with local politics but just care about the security situation and assist the local police in fighting common crime.
If they agree, he can ask for their hospitality and whether troops can sleep at night in the houses of the locals. The company could pay the community for this service.
This seems risky, of course. But think about it; hospitality forces the house owner to care for his guest. Any treason would ruin the family's honor in many regions. Treasoning a full company with a hundred dead would invariably lead to the utter destruction of the town, that needs to be clarified through informal channels.
The benefits of such an arrangement would be that community and company are closely tied together - it would be hard if not impossibly for non-local insurgent groups to turn this community into their base. The community would benefit commercially from the occupiers by the direct payment that finances communal personnel and investments and the purchasing power of the soldiers (food, drinks and other goods).

The single most serious problem that I see is the posibility that cultural incompatibility leads to conflits. This includes fraternisation with house owner's daughters. But a problem is just a challenge and without thinking and disciplined soldiers it would be hard to succeed in COIN anyway.



D)
First rule: You're at home when you do COIN. If you're U.S. American and patrol on a street, the children next to you are U.S.Americans of arab or whatever background. Treat them and all other local population as you would treat your own people. If you don't, you may be sent to prison just like you might if you did what you did at home.
You don't bump into the car in front of you with a Hummer to speed up your travel by forcing him to change the lane. You don't stop vehicles at checkpoints with machinegun fire. If you want to search a house, get your permission on paper first and ask first, wait and finally kick the door only if necessary.
You're at an unknown part of your own country and the different language shouldn't irritate you. Simple rule, should be understandable for everyone. Every soldier who's too dumb to learnt his rule quickly will do so in prison for violation of law or at least violation of a standing order.

The purpose is to discipline the soldiers and to minimize civilian unrest about the force. It's also a matter of justness.



==============

I'm waiting for constructive critique.

Last edited by Lastdingo; 05-24-2007 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 05-24-2007   #43
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The 'teen' analogy in COIN: Not a bad analogy; rebelling at everything for rebellion's sake, irrational, driven by hormones rather than conscious thought and reason, seeking affirmation and validation from their peers and the world at large, willing to use destructive methods to satisfy short-sighted desires, seeking causes greater than themselves and thereby falling in on self-serving and manipulitive leaders. And insurgents are pretty difficult people too.

One key piece that reinforces the analogy; shaped by the media. Teens (at least American teens) and insurgents are victims of the mass media. They see self-destructive behavior rewarded with media attention and approval, and they just have to get some of that for themselves. Granted, different media have different motivations. American media are about the profit margin first, last, and always, and sometimes allow personal issues to intrude. Middle Eastern gov't managed media are about stability of the gov't that manages them, so creating issues outside their own borders to draw attention from corruption inside their borders is the order of the day. The end effect is the same - less than mature viewers learn dangerous and destructive lessons from the talking heads. I would wager that the average American 14 yr old and the average insurgent foot soldier (not leader) have similar levels of emotional development. A scary thought.

Re: "White Man's Burden" - there's a big stigma on that phrase, but when you're dealing with populations that won't acknowledge cause and effect, or instantly ascribe "Will of God" as the only cause to all effects, it's hard not to slip toward that role. How do you get a population to accept responsibility for their actions without taking something of a patriariachal or matriarical role?
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Old 05-24-2007   #44
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Default Comment on B) Driving

The idea of the "Q-Truck" , like the old British WWI "Q-Ship" anti-Uboat and 'commerce raider', has merit. As a scout/recon platform, clandestine insertion and extraction vehicle, surveillance vehicle or convoy pointman or sweeper it could work well.

As an idea for large convoys, it is most likely impractical since the point of origion and the size of the convoy would be give aways.

Furhter the locals would be the deciding factor, over time they would probably notice and pass info to the insugents.

-T
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Old 05-24-2007   #45
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The idea of the "Q-Truck" , like the old British WWI "Q-Ship" anti-Uboat and 'commerce raider', has merit. As a scout/recon platform, clandestine insertion and extraction vehicle, surveillance vehicle or convoy pointman or sweeper it could work well.

As an idea for large convoys, it is most likely impractical since the point of origion and the size of the convoy would be give aways.

Furhter the locals would be the deciding factor, over time they would probably notice and pass info to the insugents.

-T
The gun trucks in Vietnam served as Q-Trucks at first, as did the M-113s armed with Vulcan mini-guns, at least in terms of unexpected escorts. In both cases they were quite successful (at least initially) at breaking convoy ambushes.

There were also examples of normal mech units leaving stay-behind patrols (LRRPs or regular grunts), in which case the M-113 was really doing the same task you're talking about.

So there is some history to the technique, although I'm not sure if local vehicles have been used before. Could be a very good spin on an old tactic.
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Old 05-24-2007   #46
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Default local vehicles

I think also, that LE uses local or clandestine vehicles for surveillance purposes all the time, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to add this capability to the kit bag of troops in Iraq-Afghanistan for direct action and patrolling.
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Old 05-24-2007   #47
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This is similar to what was done with both SF A-Teams in the Montagnard regions of SVN and the USMC CAP practices in I Corps. It was very successful (at least in the early days) with SF, and CAP also appears to have been successful (although there are arguments that it only worked in more peaceful areas or those more disposed to the SVN government to begin with).
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Old 05-24-2007   #48
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Well, I meant the truck idea more for camouflage and less as ambush vs. ambushers as the old WW1 Q-Ship.

I believe it's plain silly to drive around as patrol on predictable routes in easily identified vehicles. It's even more silly to buy expensive armored vehicles that need a lot of gas due to their weight and transport only a few soldiers in them because they still can be crushed by simply larger mines.
In a country with hundred thousands of trucks it should be possible to merge with lots of them and simply drive to where you need to drive by looking unconspicious.
Identification would be much more difficult and likely not timely for IED operation even if every IED operator had and knew photos of every such trucks from the area. Either the effort to keep current info on those trucks is not merited by their small quantity or there are too many to be recognized...
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Old 05-24-2007   #49
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I think also, that LE uses local or clandestine vehicles for surveillance purposes all the time, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to add this capability to the kit bag of troops in Iraq-Afghanistan for direct action and patrolling.
Keep in mind that "undercover" vehicles are only good as long as they remain uncompromised. It doesn't matter how well they blend in once the indig recognize those specific vehicles are being used by our troops - that means the threat knows and they are now targeted.

During my time with the Gang Task Force in CA, the local LE (city & county) there had a difficult time comprehending what "compromise" meant. They would conduct surveillance on a subject and then meet up afterwards in the rear parking lot of a shopping mall just a few blocks away - both uniformed and plainclothes LE standing around the vehicles in full view of passing traffic.

At best it meant that those vehicles and officers were now compromised and would no longer be of use in future surveillance in that area. In reality, because of lack of resources (both men and vehicles), it meant that each future surveillance op using any element of that group would have to be planned with the understanding that it may be compromised from the beginning.

In sum, the use of undercover vehicles requires effective mission planning, to include counter-surveillance planning, when used - otherwise they are only effective for a brief period before they become targets like every other vehicle with overt U.S. markings (and those tinted-window SUVs).
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Old 05-24-2007   #50
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Well, I've seen many trucks in not really industrialized countries looking very "custom" due to decorations, not really fitting spare parts, dirt, different colour spare parts and so on. It should be possible to change the outer appearance by exchanging part and so on. It's a matter of life or death and certainly justifies the effort if it works.
Anyway - an IED operator needs some distance to the IED to be safe from the explosion and safe from the pursuit. That means he'll have some distance between himself and the IED, therefore also difficulties to identify a truck that looks just like some ten thousand other trucks around in time.
That's so much more demanding than identifying a standard brownish 'camouflaged' HMMWV or Stryker or HEMMT as a target ...
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Old 05-24-2007   #51
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Although there are certainly plenty of IED attacks against vehicles that are simply targets of opportunity, there are also many that are planned to hit specific patrol and convoy routes - and some that target specific vehicles.

In general, it ain't quite so simple as Ahmed emplacing an IED, then sitting and waiting with his finger on the trigger until he sees a US Army vehicle drive by. The bad guys are supported by sophisticated logistics and intel networks, which most definitely supply them with info regarding vehicle movements. This makes mitigation a challenge even for those commanders who aren't so stupid as to fall into predictable patterns.

The use of undercover vehicles implies a certain degree of importance to the mission, and puts them as a higher profile target once they've been identified - that is the inference of my comments in my first post in this thread.

You also have to do the strategic cost-benefit analysis of what the negative domestic public opinion impact if this tactic is given broad application and then fails: we have a number of soldiers killed by IEDs when moving in soft-skinned unarmored local vehicles. Not to mention considering whether or not we are raising the threat level to indig who use similar vehicles - and what the potential impact of an increased kill rate among those people would be.

I see the value of "blending in" by using local autos and hooptie trucks as useful to SOF and intel assets; and only with careful mission planning, as mentioned earlier. I do not see any operational advantage in broadening that use to conventional convoys or patrols.
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Old 05-25-2007   #52
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B)Driving around. How to avoid IED's and other ambushes? Think about it; what does the IED operator depend on the most? Identification. If he cannot tell which one of the 500 trucks per hour that pass his IED is an enemy, he becomes useless.

My idea is to use trucks acquired locally. A repair show repairs the dynamic components (without changing outer appearance or sound) and includes some more equipment. A driver in uniform but mostly looking like the local truck drivers steers the vehicle, sometimes but not always with another soldier looking the same next to him (let's say his shadow;-) )....

C)
Bases...

It's common practice to build a kind of defended fort in an occupied country and to tie up lots of troops with the services and defence of the camp.
At the same time, theorists claim that troops need to be in close contact with the local population and to cooperate, win hearts and minds and so on.
I have a different suggestion that eliminates a lot of the logistical footprint, alienation and other problems ... if it works.

My suggestion is to exploit the hospitality which is usually a very strong cultural element in rural areas - especially un less developed countries. Hospitality is often a matter of family honor.
My scenario is that when a company needs to be based in a small town the captain meets the town's elders together with his translator. He makes promises as well as asks whether they want his protection for the next four years. He wouldn't meddle with local politics but just care about the security situation and assist the local police in fighting common crime.
If they agree, he can ask for their hospitality and whether troops can sleep at night in the houses of the locals. The company could pay the community for this service....

D)
First rule: You're at home when you do COIN. If you're U.S. American and patrol on a street, the children next to you are U.S.Americans of arab or whatever background....
Point B. is troubling to me because of the driver/passenger "trying to look like a local" piece. You run the risk of alienating the locals if they start getting targetted. Think about it -- if the insurgent cannot target the forces, they will target the civilians whom the forces are meant to protect. Also, it really wouldn't take long for the insurgents to catch on and devise a way to identify which are the trucks belonging to the military. I also don't know whether you want to be "hiding" from the insurgents -- it doesn't project the sense of authority I think is necessary in a counterinsurgency.

Point C. As the billetting of British troops was one of the causes for the anger leading to the Revolution, I'm not sure how well this will work, especially not for long periods of time. Can you count on hospitality for short periods of time? Sure. It's done now, for periods when forces have to remain in an area, and at least some folks make an effort to be kind and friendly with the hosts. And, in many cases, if the US forces have behaved well, the hosts will return the favor, e.g. making a pot of chai. On the other hand, billetting forces in localities where they can live off of the economy -- thereby injecting a bit of extra cash -- makes sense from a security and relationship building pov. That's why the CAP were placed right in the hamlets. And like the CAPs, you could use the real world skills of the troops (esp. when you use Guard and Reserves, where folks have real world jobs, like electrician and plumber) to strengthen the relationship.

Point D. This one is right on target. No more needs to be said.

Last edited by Sargent; 05-25-2007 at 03:38 AM.
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Old 05-25-2007   #53
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Re: "White Man's Burden" - there's a big stigma on that phrase, but when you're dealing with populations that won't acknowledge cause and effect, or instantly ascribe "Will of God" as the only cause to all effects, it's hard not to slip toward that role. How do you get a population to accept responsibility for their actions without taking something of a patriariachal or matriarical role?
Interesting. I think this idea represents a genuine blockade in any attempt to really wage "empathetic" warfare. If one knows what is better for the population than the population itself --- moreover, that one understands the population and their varied situations so well that this sort of judgment appears valid --- then how can one not treat the natives as "half-devil and half-child"?
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Old 05-25-2007   #54
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I am concerned that the concern regarding the "White Man's Burden" suggests a too literal interpretation of the "parent" analogy. The point is not to say that forces deployed to COIN should think of themselves as parents. Rather, it is to say that the two endeavors -- parenting and COIN -- present many similar challenges and require a similar skill set to succeed. The comparison is metaphorical, at least in my mind.
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Old 05-25-2007   #55
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I am concerned that the concern regarding the "White Man's Burden" suggests a too literal interpretation of the "parent" analogy. The point is not to say that forces deployed to COIN should think of themselves as parents. Rather, it is to say that the two endeavors -- parenting and COIN -- present many similar challenges and require a similar skill set to succeed. The comparison is metaphorical, at least in my mind.
Good point but, like many metaphors, large numbers of the target audience will assume it is true - with all of their connotations. That was one of the reasons I suggested using images of Sheiks as grandparents - it can modify the White Man's Burden theme while, at the same time, re-inforcing the message that working with the Sheiks is an excellent tactic.

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Old 05-25-2007   #56
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Good point but, like many metaphors, large numbers of the target audience will assume it is true - with all of their connotations. That was one of the reasons I suggested using images of Sheiks as grandparents - it can modify the White Man's Burden theme while, at the same time, re-inforcing the message that working with the Sheiks is an excellent tactic.

Marc
Marc, I think we're getting way ahead of anything my little metaphor is meant to accomplish. I don't have many pretensions that this goes much further than collegial discussion amongst myself and my varied colleagues. I certainly don't think this should ever be used as doctrine, as written. Rather, at most it is to set a frame of reference, give someone an idea of the sort of mindset that COIN requires. It's a way to understand COIN as different from conventional warfare. Nobody thinks that warfare is really _like_ football, but if you want to describe aspects of linear warfare, the football analogy works. (Although, I think rugby is a better analogy, but that's another point.) Even if it were taken "literally" there is perfectly good military language that describes the points without the ma/paternalistic slant.
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Old 05-25-2007   #57
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Interesting. I think this idea represents a genuine blockade in any attempt to really wage "empathetic" warfare. If one knows what is better for the population than the population itself --- moreover, that one understands the population and their varied situations so well that this sort of judgment appears valid --- then how can one not treat the natives as "half-devil and half-child"?
Perhaps this reponse really belongs in the empathetic warfare thread, but I tend to agree that the whole idea of a paternalistic approach to solving the problem is a mistake. I further think that an appeal to Kipling is rather mistaken. IMO, a better voice from British South Asian colonial rule, one which points out the problems with a paternalistic approach, is found in George Orwell’s essays from his time in Burma. I heartily suggest reading “Shooting an Elephant” (http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/887/) and “A Hanging” (http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/888/)

Last edited by wm; 05-25-2007 at 02:26 PM. Reason: remove duplicate sentences
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Old 05-25-2007   #58
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There are a lot of good points in using a family analogy particularly when it has a backdrop of tribal type warfare because family and Kin Folks are heavily involved on both sides. As for methods of attack it is extremely close to stalking and counter-stalking situations because you have that aspect of hidden or secretive enemies that often have extreme freedom of movement because they are hidden or unknown.

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Old 05-25-2007   #59
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Nobody thinks that warfare is really _like_ football, but if you want to describe aspects of linear warfare, the football analogy works.
Sports analogies for warfare have had tragic results. They give the impression that the civilians and non-combatants sit on the sidelines and aren't involved. A better analogy might be rugby with hand grenades in a crowded multi-level shopping mall.
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Old 05-25-2007   #60
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Perhaps this reponse really belongs in the empathetic warfare thread, but I tend to agree that the whole idea of a paternalistic approach to solving the problem is a mistake. I further think that an appeal to Kipling is rather mistaken. IMO, a better voice from British South Asian colonial rule, one which points out the problems with a paternalistic approach, is found in George Orwell’s essays from his time in Burma. I think the appeal to Kipling is rather mistaken. A better voice from British colonial rule is, IMHO, George Orwell’s essays from his time in Burma. I heartily suggest reading “Shooting an Elephant” (http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/887/) and “A Hanging” (http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/888/)
Again, I will say that if these are the criticisms of the idea, then I am not being adequately clear. I do not at all mean to suggest that there ought to be a paternalistic or patronizing slant to this. I don't think that a force fighting a counterinsurgency ought to think of themselves as "parents."

Go back to the first point in the "presentation" -- you can't kill the baby, that's not being a successful parent. It is neither successful in COIN to kill the locals. If a baby is always fawned upon, then in COIN you have to remember that the insurgents and locals will always have better PR. If as a parent you would do anything to protect the baby, then in COIN you have to see your role as protecting the locals, and sometimes even the insurgents.

For example, in a real life case: an IED trigger puller is captured, the jundi are beating the guy, probably going to kill him, and an American Lt. advisor jumps on the prisoner, as if to hit him, and stays there, thus stopping the beating. I doubt the Lt. thought of himself as a parent, but he used an instinct that is common to parents, to protect the "object" despite all the terrible things it may have done in the past. There was no paternalism involved, but the actions were similar.

I suppose it's time to get back to the drawing board to set the idea properly.
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