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Old 08-27-2012   #801
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Default COIN Center Webcast: Transitions in Counterinsurgency

COIN Center Webcast: Transitions in Counterinsurgency

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Old 10-09-2012   #802
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Default Winning Hearts and Minds During COIN Campaigns

Winning Hearts and Minds During COIN Campaigns

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Old 10-18-2012   #803
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Default Training Blends Conventional Warfare with Side of COIN

Training Blends Conventional Warfare with Side of COIN

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Old 01-10-2013   #804
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Default The evolution of modern COIN

Thanks to a "lurker" it is worth reading a hitherto unknown Lorenzo Zambernardi, an Italian academic and his paper 'Counterinsurgency’s Impossible Trilemma', which appeared in The Washington Quarterly in 2010:http://csis.org/files/publication/tw...ambernardi.pdf

So why refer in the title to 'The evolution of modern COIN'? Have we thought here on waging COIN after the exit from Iraq and the expected exit from Afghanistan? It must be a bad day I cannot immediately recall such a discussion!

I know large scale, external COIN interventions are not the only model and there are ample examples of external "small is beautiful" campaigns.

From the opening:
Quote:
Counterinsurgency involves three main goals, but in real practice a counter-insurgent needs to choose two out of three. This is the ‘‘impossible trilemma’’ of counterinsurgency. In economic literature, the impossible trilemma known also as the ‘‘unholy trinity’’ or the ‘‘open-economy trilemma’’ has been used to assert that an economy cannot simultaneously have an independent monetary policy, a fixed exchange rate, and free capital movement.

The impossible trilemma in counterinsurgency is that, in this type of conflict, it is impossible to simultaneously achieve: 1) force protection, 2) distinction between enemy combatants and non-combatants, and 3) the physical elimination of insurgents

In pursuing any two of these goals, a state must forgo some portion of the third objective. A state can protect its armed forces while destroying insurgents, but only by indiscriminately killing civilians as the Ottomans, Italians, and Nazis did in the Balkans, Libya, and Eastern Europe, respectively. It can choose to protect civilians along with its own armed forces instead, avoiding so-called collateral damage, but only by abandoning the objective of destroying the insurgents, as U.S. armed forces have started to do in Iraq after the success of the ‘‘surge.’’

Finally, a state can discriminate between combatants and non-combatants while killing insurgents, but only by increasing the risks for its own troops, as the United States and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have recently begun to do in Afghanistan. As in international economics, where states actually make a trade-off among its economic goals, the argument here highlights that, in counterinsurgency, it is almost impossible to reach all three objectives within a feasible time frame. So a country must choose two out of three goals and develop a strategy that can successfully accomplish them, while putting the third objective on the back burner.
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Old 01-10-2013   #805
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I don't see how one could avoid losses ("Force Protection") and eliminate the enemy in a conventional battle either. So COIN would be -judged by his article- an easier mode of warfare. A trilemma instead of a dilemma as 'usual'.
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Old 01-13-2013   #806
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Default Strategic Realities in Irregular Conflict

CNA, a think tank within the Beltway, has published a 200 pg. report, so far too lengthy to absorb now and the summary says:
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This book seeks to answer two questions: Why is irregular conflict so hard? Can we do it better? The concept of “strategic realities” applies to both questions. Problems arise in the irregular conflict arena that generally do not arise in either conventional conflict or classic development, yet irregular conflict also requires understanding each of those domains—and something more besides. When we undertake responses to an irregular conflict, we do so with organizations that are designed, educated, and trained for other purposes. Jerry-rigged solutions can work and sometimes have, but success usually comes only because of stellar ad hoc efforts, and not because of a focused systemic approach.

There is no shortage of writing on irregular conflict—Afghanistan and Iraq have made certain of that—but the virtue of this book comes from the experience of those writing it and their willingness to tell it as it is, both problems and proposed solutions. The authors look both into problems faced in and by the host nation and at the United States’ approach to irregular conflict in the field and in the bureaucracy. Beyond description, the authors attempt to meld multiple perspectives and propose solutions that those with experience believe could generate more effective results.
Link:http://www.cna.org/sites/default/fil...r_Conflict.pdf
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Old 02-21-2013   #807
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Default Mobile Training Teams & COIN Shura: Helping to Minimize Civilian Casualties

Mobile Training Teams & COIN Shura: Helping to Minimize Civilian Casualties

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Old 03-18-2013   #808
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Default To COIN or Not?

To COIN or Not?

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Old 03-21-2013   #809
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Default US Army IW Fusion Center Webcast: COIN Challenges in Pakistan

US Army IW Fusion Center Webcast: COIN Challenges in Pakistan

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Old 07-01-2013   #810
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Default SOF, COIN, and the Question of Host Nation Viability: An Interview with Dick Couch

SOF, COIN, and the Question of Host Nation Viability: An Interview with Dick Couch

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Old 07-07-2013   #811
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Default Is COIN a Strategy?

Moderator's Note - for Bill M.

On request I'm copying some recent posts from the thread on "Porch shines a torch on COIN to expand the discussion beyond his promising book to discuss whether or not we have confused our COIN doctrine with strategy, and if so what are the risks to our national security if we don't fix this? (Ends).


Professor Douglas Porch, of NPS, has a new book due out at the end of July 'Counterinsurgency: Exposing the Myths of the New Way of War', which is likely to arouse interest, if not controversy.

From the summary:
Quote:
Douglas Porch's sweeping history of counterinsurgency campaigns carried out by the three 'providential nations' of France, Britain and the United States, ranging from nineteenth-century colonial conquests to General Petraeus's 'Surge' in Iraq, challenges the contemporary mythologising of counterinsurgency as a humane way of war. The reality, he reveals, is that 'hearts and minds' has never been a recipe for lasting stability and that past counterinsurgency campaigns have succeeded not through state-building but by shattering and dividing societies while unsettling civil-military relations.

(Elsewhere)The reality, he reveals, is that 'hearts and minds' has never been a recipe for lasting stability.
Link:http://www.amazon.com/Counterinsurge...=douglas+porch and http://www.amazon.co.uk/Counterinsur...=Douglas+Porch

A very partial review by a Guardian journalist, which includes this:
Quote:
The book came from listening to his students, many of whom are seasoned officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who repeatedly told him that COIN hadn't a hope of changing the countries for the better. And when he lost two students to "green on blue attacks", he felt an obligation to expose the official doctrine and, in some way, to stop scholarship being militarised.
Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...oad?CMP=twt_gu

Professor Porch's NPS entry:http://www.nps.edu/Academics/Schools...lty/porch.html

I have read and enjoyed two of his books on French military history.
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Old 07-07-2013   #812
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Default Porch and Gentile books ordered....

http://www.amazon.com/Wrong-Turn-Ame.../dp/1595588744

Both have books on COIN coming out and I've pre-ordered both (I think I've mentioned that in a previous thread around here. Maybe I won't be so lazy for a change and write up a review or something. I also plan to read what I suppose might be a bit of a rebuttal, the book by Peter Mansoor on the surge.)

Sorta kinda related to the point made on the 'benevolence' of "hearts and minds", a recent review:

Quote:
“The Imperial lion has roused itself, invoking the Spirit of Clive and of Hastings and Dyer, he roars again,” observed The Daily Tribune in August 1942. Tiring of Gandhi and the Indian National Congress agitating during the war, the British Raj unsheathed the sword. Mass arrests, censorship, and suppression of civil liberties coerced India’s cooperation against the Axis Powers. All pretense of enlightened benevolent rule vanished as Britain showed that its empire, like all others, rested on force.""
http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin...iberal-empire/

As I said in a note to a friend, the last sentence seems to be the point of the papers by Porch that I've read: that force mattered.
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Old 07-08-2013   #813
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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Professor Douglas Porch, of NPS, has a new book due out at the end of July 'Counterinsurgency: Exposing the Myths of the New Way of War', which is likely to arouse interest, if not controversy.

From the summary:

Link:http://www.amazon.com/Counterinsurge...=douglas+porch and http://www.amazon.co.uk/Counterinsur...=Douglas+Porch

A very partial review by a Guardian journalist, which includes this:

Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...oad?CMP=twt_gu

Professor Porch's NPS entry:http://www.nps.edu/Academics/Schools...lty/porch.html

I have read and enjoyed two of his books on French military history.
David, good catch and the book promises to be provocative. I read several pages on Amazon's website, and this quote is just an example of his diatribe against our current way of war:

Quote:
COIN as symbolized by FM 3-24 and the ephemeral tactical triumphs of the Petraeus guys in Anbar join a succession of failed organizational concepts that include the Army of Excellence, the Air Land Battle, through the RMA, and now the SOF-led petty war with conventional units in support-we’re all Chindits now! Not only does the special operations tail wag the conventional army dog in this model, it runs the risk of failing catastrophically in the face of a serious challenge, much as the French Army collapsed in 1870.
I'm glad to see a dissenting voice, because it seems everyone in the media, academia, and parts of our military have blindly embraced our COIN doctrine. One lone and vocal dissenter Gian was frequently attacked for just not getting it. Our doctrine is flawed and needs to be challenged, maybe with the COINdistas out of the ranks we can approach with a more critical eye now? My concern is we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but it is a risk we need to take.

I especially liked the article you provided the link to, but you may want to remind the author that we no longer have five star generals .

I didn't see this in the pages provided as re-aheads on Amazon, but apparently Prof Porch makes a supportable argument that democracies that engage in COIN eventually direct those practices against their own populations, thus

Quote:
Think of mass surveillance, of drones, secret courts, the militarisation of the police, detention without trial.

Hannah Arendt identified "the boomerang effect of imperialism on the homeland" in The Origins of Totalitarianism, but the academic Douglas Porch has used the history of Britain, France and America to demonstrate that all the rhetoric about bringing, respectively, Britishness, liberté and freedom and democracy to the "little brown people who have no lights" is so much nonsense and that these brutal adventures almost never work and degrade the democracies that spawned them in the first place.
His key criticism of Porch's book was that it didn't offer an alternative, and that alone will undermine many of his arguments IMO.
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Old 07-09-2013   #814
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I just got finished reading Into the Fire by Meyer and West and it provided a worms eye view of "COIN", or our idea of it in Afghanistan. Basically you drive into a village for an afternoon every couple of weeks and ask what they need, how is security and have you seen any dushmen. They need everything, security is fine and no we haven't seen any but that next village over is suspect. I have no idea what that is about but anybody in his right mind knows that kind of thing can't work. You can't win any war, large or small, being that stupid. Anybody who successfully prosecuted small wars in the past, and there are lots that were successfully prosecuted, would be completely mystified by that, along with force pro, big bases, short tours in theatre, contracting practices and all the other goofy things we do. If you use "COIN" as a synonym for 'stupid', I'll go along with that but not that small war practices don't often work or that these conflicts can't be won.

Where did people get the idea that small wars don't involve fighting? If you actually read what went on in those wars you can't get that idea. West's account of Binh Nghia was ambush patrol after ambush patrol and fight after fight. Galula's account of his time in Algeria stresses the number of ambushes laid and how they never slacked off on the number. The Philippines was fighting and figuring how to get at them, or cutting them off from the people by moving the people. Plenty of application of force. Anybody who didn't figure that wasn't paying attention. Again, if "COIN" means stupid, ok.

That bit about societies being innocent naifs until some small war unleashed the devil within is nonsense. Militarized police, surveillance and all that stuff was happening anyway, in my opinion. To think that mature bureaucracies won't try to grab power is naive. They didn't need some small war to set them along that path. If Ms. Arendt has a different opinion, that is all she has, an opinion. There ain't no way to prove it one way or another.

It always seemed to me that one of Gian's motivations was to rationalize failure of the establishment big military. The argument seemed to be that small wars couldn't be done therefore big military couldn't be blamed for being stupid when they didn't get it right. A support for that is the either/or approach, we can be good at big wars or small, but not both. That is organizational self serving nonsense. You can be good enough at both, if the leadership is good. Gian's argument is sort of a martial manifestation of a modern American cultural trait, it is never my fault.
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Old 07-10-2013   #815
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Where did people get the idea that small wars don't involve fighting? If you actually read what went on in those wars you can't get that idea. West's account of Binh Nghia was ambush patrol after ambush patrol and fight after fight. Galula's account of his time in Algeria stresses the number of ambushes laid and how they never slacked off on the number. The Philippines was fighting and figuring how to get at them, or cutting them off from the people by moving the people. Plenty of application of force.
The Americans still lost in Vietnam, and the French still lost in Algeria. The Philippine conflict was a war of colonial conquest; it belongs to another era and has little or no relevance to today's conflicts.

Would more application of force have "won" in Afghanistan? Maybe, in some places, for a little while. It wouldn't have made the GIRoA any more able to govern, and it wouldn't have made "nation-building" a viable construct.

First step to winning any war, small or large, is a clear, practical, achievable goal. Not sure we ever had one of those in Afghanistan.
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Old 07-10-2013   #816
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Judging by Bill Moore's post, this professor is totally in synch with me.

I've been writing about the stupidity of small wars, the neglect of conventional military capability (attention-wise, not necessarily budget-wise) and the risk that population control methods devised to control some foreign people may be used at home.


The forces drawing attention to the current affairs - small wars, stupid anti-piracy patrolling et cetera - are overwhelming, though.
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Old 07-10-2013   #817
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SWJ interviewed Dr Porch:

http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...-douglas-porch

The interview also mentions a paper by Geoff Demarest that I found very interesting (these have all been discussed around here before, just a reminder).

To clarify, when I said "force mattered" above, I meant that the populations were often brutalized according to other sources than proponents of imperial small wars.

Link to Demarest paper:

http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/Military...8310001-MD.xml
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Old 07-10-2013   #818
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....and the risk that population control methods devised to control some foreign people may be used at home.
Like snooping on home populations in large broad brush swoops? Creepy, all of it.
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Old 07-11-2013   #819
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A lot of the antibodies against COIN and our incredibly lame COIN doctrine is due to the illogic of those who promoted it, which was little more than a thin guise for promoting themselves. People are starting to realize that

"You can't shoot your way to victory, " "you have to win over the population," "we have to build their economy and build schools" are little more than empty rhetoric. Worse it is rhetoric not tied to any strategic end, and lieu of a strategy we confuse our COIN doctrine and its social engineering tactics as strategy. Thus the debate over pursuing a COIN or CT strategy is idiotic since neither are anymore than an assortment of tactics. Finally a paper that puts it all in strategic perspective by Colin Gray. It is only 16 pages, I highly recommend reading it.

http://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/pdf/pri...17-32_gray.pdf

Concept Failure?
COIN, Counterinsurgency, and Strategic Theory


Quote:
COIN is neither a concept nor can it be a strategy. Instead, it is simply an acronymic descriptor of a basket of diverse activities intended to counter an insurgency.
Quote:
COIN debate would benefit if the debaters took a refresher course in the basics of strategy. Many fallacies and inadequate arguments about COIN in Afghanistan, for instance, are avoidable if their proponents were willing to seek and were able to receive help from theory.
Quote:
There are no such historical phenomena as guerrilla wars. To define a war according to a tactical style is about as foolish as definition according to weaponry.
(he listed using tank warfare as an example)

Quote:
Counterinsurgency is not a subject that has integrity in and of itself. Because war is a political, and only instrumentally a military, phenomenon, we must be careful lest we ambush ourselves by a conceptual confusion
that inflates COIN to the status of an idea and activity that purportedly has standalone, context-free merit.
Quote:
To be blunt, the most effective strategy to counter an insurgency may be one that makes little use of COIN tactics. It will depend upon the circumstance (context).
Quote:
Such winning can be understood to mean that the victorious side largely dictates the terms that it prefers for an armistice and then a peace settlement, and is in a position to police and enforce a postwar order that in the main reflects its values and choices. History tells us that it can be as hard, if not harder, to make peace than it is to make war successfully.
Quote:
Population-centric COIN will not succeed if the politics are weak, but neither is it likely to succeed if the insurgents can retreat to repair, rally, and recover in a cross-border sanctuary.
Quote:
The principal and driving issues for the United States with respect to counterinsurgency are when to do it and when not, and how to attempt to do it strategically. Policy and strategy choices are literally critical and determinative.
IMO this turns the lame argument that COIN is the way of the future, insurgencies have always been present and likely will continue to be for the next few decades, but that hardly means it is in our interest to get engaged anymore than it is to conduct state on state warfare.

Quote:
Tactical errors or setbacks enforced by a clever enemy should be corrected or offset tactically and need not menace the integrity of policy and strategy. COIN may not be rocket science or quantum theory, but no one has ever argued that it is easy.
Quote:
If success in COIN requires prior, or at least temporally parallel, success in nationbuilding, it is foredoomed to failure. Nations cannot be built. Most especially they cannot be built by well-meaning but culturally arrogant
foreign social scientists, no matter how well intentioned and methodologically sophisticated. A nation (or community) is best defined
as a people who think of themselves as one. Nations build themselves by and through historical experience. Cultural understanding is always useful and its absence can be a lethal weakness, but some lack of comprehension is
usual in war.
Quote:
The issue is not whether Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else either needs to be, or should be “improved.” Instead, the issue is whether or not the job is feasible. Even if it would be well worth doing, if it is mission impossible or highly improbable at sustainable cost to us, then it ought not to be attempted. This is Strategy 101.
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Old 07-11-2013   #820
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Finally a paper that puts it all in strategic perspective by Colin Gray. It is only 16 pages, I highly recommend reading it.
I second that recommendation.

That article really deserves a discussion thread of its own, and could serve as an example to many who write on these subjects. The argument and supporting reasoning are impressive, and it is truly refreshing to see someone match intellectual rigor with a presentation that is clear, precise, and completely devoid of the dense and convoluted jargon that has become so fashionable in so many quarters.

Well spotted.
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