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Old 09-25-2006   #41
Bill Moore
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Default We digress

Gentlemen, the intent of this thread is to clearly show the superiority of effects based planning versus using the outdated center of gravity construct.

Put your guns down, I'm only joking! Great comments, but I would still like to see how the "people's will" as the center of gravity could be useful in a functional way to a military planner?

Using an effects based approach which is intended to integrate all of our government agencies, and hopefully academia, still seems more appropriate than trying to make centers of gravity work in this situation. Sometimes there are COG's, other times the COGs are unsuitable to facilitate planning, such as the people's will.

Marc, you bring a much needed voice to the council, and I was hoping you might share some ideas on where you think you could fit into the planning process to help us get off on the right track? Let's say we were going into country X to assist the government defeat an insurgency. What would you consider must know information to facilitate you giving advice to military planners? What type of advice do you think you give that could help military planners? I use the term planner, but that isn't restricted to the future operations planners at the joint level, but inclusive of the company commander that is developing a strategy for his area of operations.
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Old 09-25-2006   #42
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Default COGs and other mental constructs

Hi Bill,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Gentlemen, the intent of this thread is to clearly show the superiority of effects based planning versus using the outdated center of gravity construct.

Put your guns down, I'm only joking! Great comments, but I would still like to see how the "people's will" as the center of gravity could be useful in a functional way to a military planner?
Okay, I will apologize in advance for sounding like an academic .

As far as I see it, "centre of gravity" is a concept, a mental schema if you will, that is already embedded in the minds of many military planners. Whether it is a worthwhile concept, or whether EBP would be a "better" concept is, for this point, moot. The short answer is that using the "people's will" as a centre of gravity is useful because it is drawing on a concept that already exists in the minds of the military planner. What tends to be missing from the concept is the operational specification. Still and all, it is always easier to "sell" a modification or "amplification" of an existing idea/concept than it is to sell a "new" or "different" concept. It's really just a matter of changing the referential semantics of the debate.

Can it be useful functionally? Probably, but some modification would be needed. First, I think we would have to change the name of the main focus from "people's will" to something like "people's beliefs". Second, it would probably be useful to "create" new foci for "insurgent's will" and, hmm, "COIN will" (where the popluation of the latter is those people who are actively engaged in COIN operations, both "native" and "non-native").

This allows us to stay in the emotionally "safe" construct of centre of gravity, and to shift the EBP into an operationalization of how these centres interact and how those interactions can be manipulated.

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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Using an effects based approach which is intended to integrate all of our government agencies, and hopefully academia, still seems more appropriate than trying to make centers of gravity work in this situation. Sometimes there are COG's, other times the COGs are unsuitable to facilitate planning, such as the people's will.
Honestly, I think that you are quite correct here, at least as far as actual operational planning, in the broadest sense of the term, is concerned.

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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Marc, you bring a much needed voice to the council, and I was hoping you might share some ideas on where you think you could fit into the planning process to help us get off on the right track? Let's say we were going into country X to assist the government defeat an insurgency. What would you consider must know information to facilitate you giving advice to military planners? What type of advice do you think you give that could help military planners? I use the term planner, but that isn't restricted to the future operations planners at the joint level, but inclusive of the company commander that is developing a strategy for his area of operations.
Hmmm, that definately is the "put up or shut up" question, isn't it . I'm going to have to think about this a lot more, but I will try and take a stab at answering some of the questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Marc, you bring a much needed voice to the council, and I was hoping you might share some ideas on where you think you could fit into the planning process to help us get off on the right track?
First off, thanks. As it currently stands, I see myself "fit[ing] into the planning process" primarily in two areas:
  1. As a Canadian academic, I am somewhat constrained in who I have access to talk to. I am truly grateful for the existence of SWJ and for the council in listening to what I have to say, since this is one of the few venues I have to make my ideas heard by people who can actually do something. Certainly, what I have to say will not be heard by many Anthropologists (more on that one later - I'm putting an article together on it).
  2. I think the greatest contribution I can make to the planning process is in working with people to develop adaptive methodologies that integrate culture, media, and actual operations. I think that the advantages I would bring to this are that I am an expert in "systems of meaning" (i.e. how people construct reality via symbols), I have a background in comparative religion as well as Anthropology and, finally, as a Canadian, I view US operations through a different, if friendly, lense.

(Sheesh! I feel like I'm writing a cover letter for a job application . Still, you asked and honest question, and deserve an honest answer.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Let's say we were going into country X to assist the government defeat an insurgency. What would you consider must know information to facilitate you giving advice to military planners?
I would have to say that two things were crucial at the start of such an operation. First, what is / are the local culture(s)? Most of that material is already available in libraries, but until you know the general structures of a group, their symbol systems don't really make that much sense. Actually, it's more complex than that, but that's the basic part. Then I would have to tie in the symbol systems to those structures.

The second imperative would be to look at the insurgency's propaganda. For any insurgency to succeed, it has to operate using a symbol system that derives from or is cognate with the local symbol system(s). Most of the time, this will be tied in to a crucial, everyday "lived experience" that the vast majority of the general population can experience. By way of example, Guevera's campaign in Bolivia hinged around land distribution and when the land was redistributed by the government, the insurgency collapsed.

The case in Iraq is much more complex than that of Bolivia, unfortunately (sigh). At the absolute minimum, there are four seperate cultures to examine and each of them extends beyond the geographic boundaries of Iraq.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
What type of advice do you think you give that could help military planners? I use the term planner, but that isn't restricted to the future operations planners at the joint level, but inclusive of the company commander that is developing a strategy for his area of operations.
I think that in order to answer that question, it would probably be better to split it into three seperate areas:
  1. Initial planning
  2. Company level "advice"
  3. Ongoing analysis
Initial planning
Most of what could be done in the initial planning stage would be what I was talking about earlier: identifying the structures, symbol systems and propaganda nodes. Once they are identified, then certain initial "suggestions" could be made on how to operate. Honestly, I'd be a fool to say that any advice coming out of this would work 100% of the time. Based on WWII experience in the Pacific theatre, we would be lucky to get about 60%-70%. Still, that would be better than nothing.

Company level advice
Again, initially, it would come out of the initial planning stage. The trick, I think, would be to set up a "cultural intelligence" operation where information from the field is sent back ASAP for analysis and reworking, which brings us to...

Ongoing analysis
To my mind, this is the core "value add" that Antrhopology can bring to the table (not that most of my colleagues would do so ). We have had a lot of discussions about how much cultural training the strategic corporal and other frontline troops can have. The reality, at least as much as I see it at present, is that the mind set required for someone to be a good combat soldier is quite different from that required to be a good cultural analyst. Having said that, however, I think that it is absolutely imperative that information, analysis and observations flow freely back and forth between the two groups.

Let me return, for a second, to the tangential conversation RTK and I were having. Notice that both of us mentioned showing up at funerals. In my case, I was placing that type of action in a cultural symbolic context. In RTK's case, he was placing it in an operation and personal context. How would this work together? Well, if nothing else, I would hope that when RTK produces his COIN handbook, he includes that "story" along with a recommendation that other people do the same where possible. Why? Because it not only establishes and strengthens individual personal relationships, but also because it honours the local system of tribal honour.

Bill, I don't know if this has answered your questions. I know that I'm not happy with it on the whole, but I wanted to give you a quick answer before taking a week or two to put something more complete together.

Marc
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Old 09-25-2006   #43
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Smile Bubba wants you to know

Dear RTK,
Bubba wants you to know "he ain't got no neighbors" He don't live on know block neither, he has a trailer like all regular folks does.
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Old 09-25-2006   #44
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So back to the original question - what is or are the center(s) of gravity in Iraq? We have been in Iraq for 42 months, so I would imagine someone must have figured it out by now.
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Old 09-25-2006   #45
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Physical:
- Cities
- Infrastructure (water sources, communications, electricity)
- Line of Communication

Organizational:
- Tribal links
- Religious ideology
- Political parties
- Ethnic factions (Sunna, Shia, Kurd)
- Kurdish political parties
- Iraqi Security Forces
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Old 09-25-2006   #46
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Since Clausewitz would contend that the purpose of war is to make another nation or people submit to your will. I will bring up people's will as a planning construct is important because it is the key terrain in an insurgency. What actions are you going to take make the local population neutral to passively friendly, and break the will of the insurgent. RTK posted alot of "how to" information. The key in using "people's will" as a COG for planning is that it helps drive and synchronize your CMO, IO, and security operations. It is tied to public perception and public opinion. As a military planner it is important because we try to avoid it and pawn it of on other government entities that either don't exist, or they are not resourced for it (state/commerce/IMF,UN,etc). Since the NGO's/PVO's/agencies can't do it, as a militayr planner I have to. I saw the shoulder shrug, hell I shrugged my shoulders, in May and June of 2003 when we had not factored people's will and how to win it as a planning construct in Iraq.
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Old 09-25-2006   #47
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Symbolic

- Communications media
- Symbolic associations between individuals and actions (i.e. "stereotype" expectations)
- Emotional evocations of sensory input (e.g. how do the locals emotionally react to a patrol)
- Interpretations of religious ideology
- Interpretations between religio-legal systems
- A symbolic "repatterning" of basic emotional equations (e.g. value of children)
- Construction of a "safe space" for symbolic discourse

Physical (a few additions)

- Food
- Fuel
- Communications media and programming (e.g. Voice of America style a la WWII & cold war)
- Medical care
- Infrastructure reconstruction, especially at the personal level (e.g. housing, means of livelihood, etc.)
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Old 09-25-2006   #48
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Default Question for anyone who wants to take a shot

What is the defeat mechanism we should use to win?
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Old 09-25-2006   #49
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Maybe I misunderstood or misread Clausewitz, but dont COGs have to offer resistance? How does either terrain or infrastructure provide resistance?
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Old 09-26-2006   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strickland View Post
Maybe I misunderstood or misread Clausewitz, but dont COGs have to offer resistance? How does either terrain or infrastructure provide resistance?
Whether Clauswitz said that COGs have to offer resistance, I have no idea. I'm going with the definition in FM 1-02/MCRP 5-12A operational Terms and Graphics, which states:

Centers of Gravity(DOD) Those characteristics, capabilities, or sources of power from which a military force derives its freedom of action, physical strength, or will to fight. Also called COGs.

Additionally, COGs are talked about in FM 3-0, Operations:

5-27. Center of Gravity. Centers of gravity are those characteristics, capabilities, or localities from which a military force derives its freedom of action, physical strength, or will to fight. Destruction or neutralization of the enemy center of gravity is the most direct path to victory. The enemy will recognize and shield his center of gravity. Therefore, a direct approach may be costly and sometimes futile. Commanders examine many approaches, direct and indirect, to the enemy center of gravity.
5-28. The center of gravity is a vital analytical tool in the design of campaigns and major operations. Once identified, it becomes the focus of the
commander’s intent and operational design. Senior commanders describe the
center of gravity in military terms, such as objectives and missions.
5-29. Commanders not only consider the enemy center of gravity, but also
identify and protect their own center of gravity. During the Gulf War, for example, US Central Command identified the coalition itself as the friendly
center of gravity. The combatant commander took measures to protect it, including deployment of theater missile defense systems.


It was in these terms that infrastructure and terrain can be centers of gravity (think oil fields).
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Old 09-26-2006   #51
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Default Centers of Gravity are connectivity

Read this article carefully, and it will challenge our doctrinal perceptions of what we think Clausewitz meant by centers of gravity. This will expand the conversation and COGs and EBO considerably. Our current doctrinal definition of COGs is wrong and for the most part worthless.

Use the link below to go this excellent article in the "Naval War College Review, Winter 2004, Vol LVI, No. 1"

http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/navy/art4-w03.htm

I attempted to post the PDF file, but it was too large. If you can't access it let me know and I'll send the PDF file to SWJED.

Bill
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Old 09-26-2006   #52
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Default Article Excerpt from LTC Echevarria's article above

Clausewitz’s center of gravity, then, is a “focal point,” neither a strength (or even a source of one) nor a weakness, per se. Second, CoGs are found only where sufficient connectivity exists among the various parts of the enemy to form an overarching system (or structure) that acts with a substantial degree of unity, like a physical body. Third, a center of gravity exerts a certain centripetal force that tends to hold an entire system or structure together; thus a blow at the center of gravity would throw an enemy off balance or even cause the entire system (or structure) to collapse. Fourth, using the concept necessitates viewing the enemy holistically.

The U.S. military’s various definitions lack entirely Clausewitz’s sense of “unity” or “connectivity.” By overlooking this essential prerequisite, the U.S. military assumes centers of gravity exist where none might—the enemy may not have sufficient connectivity between its parts to have a CoG. In that case the analysis does little more than focus on the most critical of the enemy’s capabilities.
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Old 09-26-2006   #53
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Echevarria still makes my head hurt, as much as when I had him for a history class many, many moons ago. I think that the U.S. military has had a problem with understanding Clausewitz, especially the nuances. The theorist who has had the greatest impact on the U.S. military is Jomini. It plays to U.S. love of formulaic solutions. Sure, parts of Clausewitz have been used, but U.S. military doctrine is still driven by Jomini, more than Clausewitz.
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Old 09-26-2006   #54
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Default Good article

Hi Bill,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Read this article carefully, and it will challenge our doctrinal perceptions of what we think Clausewitz meant by centers of gravity. This will expand the conversation and COGs and EBO considerably. Our current doctrinal definition of COGs is wrong and for the most part worthless.
Good article on the whole. I found his argument on the root of the concept to be pretty much as I had remembered it - basically an analogic use of Newtonian physics. Given Clausewitz's experience and time, I'm not surprised that he used the fairly simple analog of a singular body or interconnected system with a specific centre of gravity (i.e. the Earth-Moon system).

I found his argument about al-Queda's CoG somewhat less persuasive.

Quote:
For example, al-Qa‘ida cells might operate globally, but they are united by their hatred of apostasy.39 This hatred, not Osama bin Laden, is their CoG. They apparently perceive the United States and its Western values as the enemy CoG (though they do not use the term) in their war against “apostate” Muslim leaders. Decisively defeating al-Qa‘ida will involve neutralizing its CoG, but this will require the use of diplomatic and informational initiatives more than military action.
First of all, I doubt that "hatred of apostacy" is the glue that holds them together. It is certainly our inference drawn from their actions, but I suspect that "love of Islam" is probably more accurate. And before anyone says, "they're the same thing", no, they aren't (and I know you guys wouldn't say they were anyway ). One can "hate" apostates without killing them, and you are likely to find more people who will answer "yes" to the question "do you love God?" than to the question "do you hate apostates?". What al-Queda and certain other groups have done is to remap the meaning of "loving God" into "killing apostates", and Islam is certainly not the first religion that has done so (check out the Albigensian Crusade or the Maccabean Revolt if you want other examples).

Second, the US is not an apostate nation since it has never been Islamic and was never part of the Caliphate. I do agree that the Muslim Brotherhood, which is one of the main ideological sources for al-Queda, aimed at apostates in Egypt (e.g. Nasser) and has recently extended the call to Jihad to include non-Caliphate areas of the world, but there is an inherent weakness in their argument that can easily be exploited - the rest of the world is not "apostate". This extension has already caused serious problems with al-Queda's support base in the Islamic world, since they had not even followed the basic requirements for war with non-apostates/non-believers - the call to convert (hence the recent calls to convert and all will be fine).

Their CoG is the symbolic technology that allows them to map "love or God" into "hatred of the apostate AND non-believer" and, once that technology is smashed, their unity disappears as does their ability to operate at a large scale. Unfortunately, as Echevarria notes, that doesn't mean that they will disappear...

Marc
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Old 09-26-2006   #55
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A great position paper on the subject.
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Old 09-26-2006   #56
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RTK, great paper thanks for posting.
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Old 09-26-2006   #57
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Wink Clausewitz is [next to] Godliness....

Thanks for posting this, RTK. I think I am going to give it to my students to read since it is one of the best examples of a non-deistic, theological epistemology I have ever seen (wry grin).

What I have found most fascinating in this entire discussion is that there hasn't been any examination of the operational assumptions made by Clausewitz in his original work, i.e. no discussion of the assumed concept of "organization" (it's all ideal types) and no formalized discussion of the offensive | defensive | economic system ratio and how it effects the organization of military / ideological force. I think this ties in with Echevarria's comments about Clausewitz originally envisioning the concept as a process rather than a static.

Even if we go back to the Newtonian model of physics, there are certain processual issues that come to the fore. For example, gravity implies mass and some measure of density. Most mass is also moving along some type of a vector, at least in relationship with other units of mass. This vector is changing based on mutual attraction and / or the application of "force", and that rate of change (ΔV/ΔT) is the acceleration.

Okay, let's translate this analogy back into Iraq and the GWOT. The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the spread of Wahhabist theology is the initial vector, where the "force" applied to produce an acceleration is primarily socio-cultural (e.g. pan-Islamic nationalism, a revitalization movement a la Wallace, a rejection of secular values, an increase in what Durkheim called anomie, the creation of the State of Israel, etc.). It starts as a fairly small diameter (i.e. small number of poeple), highly "dense" institutional / ideological object and gathers mass along its vector, gathering speed (accelerating) as it goes. So far, it is acting exactly the same as any other social movement in the literature.

Where it starts to change its vector is when certain crucial events happen ("strange attractors" in catastrope theory) - the short lived take-over of the Qa'bah, the Revolution in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Each of these acts to redirect the vector of the social movement by defining an immediate environment: the core of Islam is under attack, it is possible to run a "pure" Islamic nation state, and the "crusaders" (infidels) have returned and are being aided by apostates exactly the same way as they were during the period of the Crusades.

This parallel to the crusades is crucial for a number of reasons. First, they happened when the Caliphate was internally divided and fighting amongst itself. Second, they happened at a time of a resurgence of non-state Islam based around the Ulama. Third, they were a time when the first serious attempt to reformulate Islam was happening in an integrative manner (cf. al-Ghazali, The Revivification of Religious Sciences; it is also interesting to note that al-Ghazali's work is enjoying a revival in the Sudan and Somalia amongst other places). Fourth, they marked the begining of a period of shame for Islam as the Caliphate disolves and "barbarians" who, while ostensively Muslim do not share the same cultural values (e.g. the Turks, the Mongols, etc.), gain control of large parts of Islamic lands. Fifth, the period produces one of the most reveared "saviour" figures in Islamic history - al-Malik al-Nāṣir Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb (the closest Western figure is probably King Arthur). BTW, this is what I meant by a cultural propoganda node in my earlier posting - it is the "mythic" justification for transforming "love of God" into "hatred of the apostate / non-believer".

So, what does this mean operationally? RTK, you described how you operated and the results you achieved. I was particularly impressed when you said that you had been "adopted". In part, what was going on was a hearkening back to an earlier "story" from the height of the Caliphate where Christians, Jews and Muslims worked together for the good of the community (~8th century ce).

What most people don't think about right now is that, at one time, Islam was the most "tolerant" religion amongst the Peoples of the Book, and the period when that tolerance was operational is the "Golden Age" of Islam. This was the time period when the Western Empire had been replaced by barbarian kingdoms and the Eastern empire was a theocratic / bureaucratic state that made Stalinist Russia look like paradise. The main "progress" of civilization was happening in the Islamic world, and Alexandria, Baghdad and Damascus were amongst the greatest cities in the world in terms of civility, technology, law, the arts and intellectual activity. This Golden Age had already started to fall apart when Alp Arslan destroyed Romanus IV's army at Manzikert (the proximate cause of the 1st Crusade).

Back to operational reality and the CoG debate. If the conecpt of a CoG is going to prove useful, then force needs to be aimed at not only the mass (i.e. the open insurgents) but, also, towards changeing the acceleration factors, which is why, IMHO, a strictly kinetic approach is ridiculous - it actually increases the acceleration as we have all seen. The proper application of "force" is to shift the vector from the perception that the proper "story" is the Crusades to the proper "story" is the Golden Age. And that is what RTK was doing - shifting the story one person at a time.

Marc
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Old 09-26-2006   #58
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Good post, Marc. I'm not sure why (perhaps it's the fact that I'm a history type as opposed to a physics type) but I always viewed the CoG as a process rather than a static thing.
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Old 09-26-2006   #59
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Thanks, Steve. Actually, we are probably alike that way - I never could understand how it could be static . 'sides that, even in physics it's a process so if we use it to gain insights, it's probably better to try and use it understanding the context it was written in. I s'pose it all comes out of people looking for a solid "thing" rather than a fluid event

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Old 09-26-2006   #60
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Default Much food for thought

Marc, you're begining to soften my position on academia. You have made several observations that are value added, and ones that I'll think about at length on my next short TDY. I find COGs of limited value at the military level, and as some claim if they are constantly moving then they are of zero value. However, using Clausewitz's original definition of a COG (and he admits they don't always exist), then they could be a useful construct at the interagency level, which is what EBO is attempting integrate. Then on the other hand, as mentioned earlier by one of the council members, it is a fanasty to believe that we actually have other government agencies beyond the military with any real capability to make things happen. State is severely underresourced, so they can stand up and say this is our job all they want, but they can't do it. Who exactly runs our national level IO? Seems to me that every agency plays in this game, but where is the over all coordinator?

RTK, I look forward to reading the paper you attached. In short though, it seems the essence of success is understanding your enemy and understanding yourself, which in some ways it seems that is what we're trying to do with the COG theory (although that use is apparently incorrect). Understanding vulnerabilities, capabilities, motivations, etc. and then taking the appropriate actions. If we understood this up front, e.g. understood our limitations and the enemy's we may have had different objectives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is a little bit late after the war starts to start thinking if we only had more civil affairs, better IO, more ground troops, etc. We could have (and did) accomplish much in both countries, the only reason it appears that we're struggling is our desire to emplace democracies there.
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