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Old 05-24-2010   #41
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"COG" is in truth a broad concept given very brief coverage by its founder, Mr. CvC.
Huh? How is it given "brief coverage?" He clearly and usefully explains what it is. What screws everything up is folks trying to change the inconvenient truth of what he states. A COG is something you strike. If you cannot strike it is not a COG! The whole concept is about harming the enemy.
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Those Empires now all reside in a tremendous graveyard filled with those who have fallen to successful insurgency.
That is simply is not true. Empires have been sustained and created by crushing rebellions. If you say Rebellion or Revolt instead of insurgency, then I think this clarifies the issues in a historical context. It certainly gets puts all the new words and concepts in context.
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It is a map to a well traveled path that many a failed empire has taken in good faith of their righteousness and full confidence in their military prowess.
It's a map well supported by 3,000 years of history of how to use armed force to set forth policy. It works if done by the skilled and fails when done by the un-skilled.
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Old 05-24-2010   #42
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That tendency is evident in our preference for central government, and in our assumption that effective governance is a desirable thing. In many cases it may not be. If a group of people is accustomed to governing themselves, with nominal allegiance to a distant and abstract national entity, the prospect of an effective government - of a government that actually proposes to govern them - might be regarded as a direct assault on a treasured autonomy. We might see a police force and a courthouse as "delivering justice", the populace might see it as an attempt to impose a foreign system of justice.
Not all that unlike the brand of ultra-survivalists and anti-taxation folk in our own country, if you stop and think about it. Deep inside, a large cross-section of the population empathize with them. Maybe not so strongly as to provide aid and comfort in the wake of an attack against one of our institutions, but there is fertile ground that can be worked with a hoe if governance and its institutions are already weak or corrupt.

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I suspect that the key question in Afghanistan is how the populace perceives the conflict: is the core conflict between the GIROA and the Taliban, with the foreigners intervening in support of the GIROA, or is the core conflict between the foreigners and the Taliban, with the foreigners setting up the GIROA as a local agent of their own devising? If the former, then yes, this is insurgency and we're doing FID. If the latter, then it is war, regardless of how badly we'd like to call it something else.
I don't see, after 9 years at this effort, where we are any closer to understanding the dynamic.

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The common insurgent weakness revolves around the relationship between insurgent leaders and their followers, both the rank-and-file fighters and the supporting populace. It's not universal, but where it exists it provides a key strategic target. If we look at "the insurgency" as a monolithic entity driven solely by resistance to bad governance, we can overlook this vulnerability.

Insurgent leaders are typically ideologically driven, and fighting for a particular desired end state, generally one in which they take political power. Insurgent followers are more typically driven by local issues that threaten them: they fight against an unacceptable status quo. The ideology of the leader is frequently less that significant (and often less than comprehensible) to the follower. The key to success for the insurgent leadership is in understanding those local grievances (which will vary widely from one locale to the next) and in presenting themselves as a solution or as an ally.

That dynamic presents an interesting challenge. The leadership may be diffuse and difficult to target; even when some of them are killed or captured new leaders emerge from the ideological core. If we target the followers, we end up punishing people who see themselves fighting for their own rights or their own survival, often exacerbating the issues that the core insurgent propagandists exploit. For me, the key to resolving a situation like this is to understand the core narrative of the followers in any given locale, identify the divergences between the narratives of leader and follower, and act to address the issues that motivate the followers. The idea is to drive a wedge between leader and follower, less a question of decapitation than disembodiment. We will never persuade the core ideologues, but if we can isolate them from their followers we can render them irrelevant.
Great observations that play into my own struggle to define area denial. Reading your points brings home the fact that despite all the collections assets we have at our disposal, that harness military manpower, very few of them (at least that I can tell) are focused on identifying the root causes of why knuckleheads do what they do, and spend inordinant amounts of time and resources simply showing us the sypmtoms. I can't tell you how many times I have read reporting that does a great job making connections within the realm of Slap's four F's, and details what has or is about to happen, but simply canno fathom the reason why. It seems that assessment is often reserved for the human terrain folks, and that presents an inverse proportion of effort.

Perhaps that's because it will always be easier to be the counterinsurgent than to actually resolve the insurgency across the spectrum.
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Old 05-24-2010   #43
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Perhaps that's because it will always be easier to be the counterinsurgent than to actually resolve the insurgency across the spectrum.
Correct, but so what? It is not "your' job to solve the problem. "Your" is to break their armed force, using armed force.

"You" apply military force, which kills and destroys and so deters as a result of doing so, or intending so.
The military contribution to crushing a revolt is to kill and capture the "revolting." - that's it! Military force can only destroy or deter.

ALL ELSE is done by politics and diplomacy - with only the alternative to kill and capture, if the rebels act out again.

Killing and capturing rebels requires skill. It does not create more rebels. This is fallacy, though it can and might, it is not a given, and this is not a reason not to do it.
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- 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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Old 05-24-2010   #44
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Correct, but so what? It is not "your' job to solve the problem. "Your" is to break their armed force, using armed force.

"You" apply military force, which kills and destroys and so deters as a result of doing so, or intending so.
The military contribution to crushing a revolt is to kill and capture the "revolting." - that's it! Military force can only destroy or deter.

ALL ELSE is done by politics and diplomacy - with only the alternative to kill and capture, if the rebels act out again.

Killing and capturing rebels requires skill. It does not create more rebels. This is fallacy, though it can and might, it is not a given, and this is not a reason not to do it.
I'm sorry Wilf, but once again, your black and white lens shows you are divorced from really understanding what I do, and what we all (military) are doing over here. The only ones getting to what you describe are the special ops guys.

You are describing the objective, not the actual threshold of what is actually happening. Diplomacy, as well as politics, are practised by the .mil folks every day.

That's the so what.

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Old 05-24-2010   #45
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I'm sorry Wilf, but once again, your black and white lens shows you are divorced from really understanding what I do, and what we all (military) are doing over here. The only ones getting to what you describe are the special ops guys.
You are missing my point. I am well aware of what "the Military" is trying to do.
I am well aware that the military is having to pick up the slack for other agencies failings and strategic dissonance.
I am merely stating the truism that if you apply military forces to problems that are not military in nature, then you will rarely get the outcome by the route you desire.
There are real limits to military power as a solution to non-military problems.
Thinking about the "problem in a different way," doesn't change that, unless someone wants to make all the same mistakes, all over again.
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- 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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Old 05-24-2010   #46
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Default Wilf, you may need to dust off you atlas

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Huh? How is it given "brief coverage?" He clearly and usefully explains what it is. What screws everything up is folks trying to change the inconvenient truth of what he states. A COG is something you strike. If you cannot strike it is not a COG! The whole concept is about harming the enemy.

That is simply is not true. Empires have been sustained and created by crushing rebellions. If you say Rebellion or Revolt instead of insurgency, then I think this clarifies the issues in a historical context. It certainly gets puts all the new words and concepts in context.

It's a map well supported by 3,000 years of history of how to use armed force to set forth policy. It works if done by the skilled and fails when done by the un-skilled.
I will not argue that empire after empire pitted their armies to suppress the insurgent will of the populaces they exercise dominion over. I will not argue that such efforts have sustained such emipires long after the populaces contained within them desired them to be gone. But I also will not argue with the facts that such efforts always ultimately fail.

This is why The USSR is but a blink in history, England is but an island; Rome is but a city, and Greece is in foreclosure. The list is as long as history to support my point; where is the history to support yours?
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Old 05-24-2010   #47
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You are missing my point. I am well aware of what "the Military" is trying to do.
I am well aware that the military is having to pick up the slack for other agencies failings and strategic dissonance.
I am merely stating the truism that if you apply military forces to problems that are not military in nature, then you will rarely get the outcome by the route you desire.
There are real limits to military power as a solution to non-military problems.
Thinking about the "problem in a different way," doesn't change that, unless someone wants to make all the same mistakes, all over again.
I missed your point then, frankly, because you came across as talking down to me with regard to the point you were trying to make. Had you simply said what you wrote above, then I would have understood and moved on. Instead, you came across to me as that guy waving his arms and yelling, "why won't you fools listen to me?" That happens pretty often around your posts (at least for me), so if I snapped at a misunderstanding, my apologies.
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Old 05-24-2010   #48
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Instead, you came across to me as that guy waving his arms and yelling, "why won't you fools listen to me?" That happens pretty often around your posts (at least for me), so if I snapped at a misunderstanding, my apologies.
Well in which case I owe you an equal apology if I came across like that. Not my intent.
- more over, if I come across as someone saying "listen to me" then I am equally screwed, - as what I am trying to say is "read CvC, Thucydides, and few others. They've said it all before".
I don't do original ideas. I just want to understand the ones that exist!
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Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 05-24-2010   #49
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Well in which case I owe you an equal apology if I came across like that. Not my intent.
- more over, if I come across as someone saying "listen to me" then I am equally screwed, - as what I am trying to say is "read CvC, Thucydides, and few others. They've said it all before".
I don't do original ideas. I just want to understand the ones that exist!
Good thing that "CvC, Thucydides, and a few others" didn't share that inclination!

All "Ideas" are by definition "new" at least to the person having them. Few things are truly new of course.

I've never been comfortable with the concept of simply hitting something with a hammer because that is "how its done" and if it doesn't work, just get a bigger hammer. Sometimes I think you need to reach for a different tool; or perhaps the thing you're whacking away at isn't even the problem at all upon a more careful analysis.
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Old 05-24-2010   #50
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Good thing that "CvC, Thucydides, and a few others" didn't share that inclination!
What can I tell you. I recognise my limitations.

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I've never been comfortable with the concept of simply hitting something with a hammer because that is "how its done" and if it doesn't work, just get a bigger hammer. Sometimes I think you need to reach for a different tool; or perhaps the thing you're whacking away at isn't even the problem at all upon a more careful analysis.
You cannot reach for a different tool IF you are the hammer! - that's my point. Military force is a set of hammers. You use them on nails.

...OK simplistic analogy, but I'm no Thucydides or CvC.
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- 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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Old 05-24-2010   #51
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I suspect that the key question in Afghanistan is how the populace perceives the conflict: is the core conflict between the GIROA and the Taliban, with the foreigners intervening in support of the GIROA, or is the core conflict between the foreigners and the Taliban, with the foreigners setting up the GIROA as a local agent of their own devising? If the former, then yes, this is insurgency and we're doing FID. If the latter, then it is war, regardless of how badly we'd like to call it something else.
I'll note again that Afghanistan was in civil war when we invaded. The Quetta Shura Taliban not only want to defeat a foreign invader, but regaining what control of the country they previously had (tenuous though it was). On the other hand, for HiG expelling the foreign invader is arguably their primary goal. Point being is that motivations and goals vary from group to group. I think looking at Afghanistan solely from the perspective of "insurgency" misses the underlying and long-standing civil conflict that predates the US intervention.
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Old 05-24-2010   #52
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I can't tell you how many times I have read reporting that does a great job making connections within the realm of Slap's four F's, and details what has or is about to happen, but simply canno fathom the reason why. It seems that assessment is often reserved for the human terrain folks, and that presents an inverse proportion of effort.
JC, that is why I say Motive, Method, and Opportunity should replace Ends, Ways and Means. CvC even talks about always going back to the Original Motive for the war! But here is what I think is the flaw in Wilf's argument, nobody ever ask soldiers/police officers how to prevent crime/war and if by some slim chance they do Politicos don't like the answers they get. Here is where I think Wilf is right......It's all politics.....politics causes war and crime. And that is the value in the Jones model....if it wakes some people up and gets them to pay attention to what the root cause/problem is....then that is a good governance thing. The fact that a soldier produces it or recommends it shouldn't really concern people IMO.

Plus, Wilf is really a nice guy he just can't stand it because that dead German guy had no since of humor whatsoever. Keep your head down.
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Old 05-24-2010   #53
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I am well aware that the military is having to pick up the slack for other agencies failings and strategic dissonance.
I am merely stating the truism that if you apply military forces to problems that are not military in nature, then you will rarely get the outcome by the route you desire.
There are real limits to military power as a solution to non-military problems.
I think this is an important point which ties into my previous comment about the problem of competing organizations. The issue of the "militarization" of our effort has been brought up time-and-again over the last nine years yet nothing changes. That's one reason why, I fear, Col. Jone's model is irrelevant to Afghanistan no matter it's merits. We have proven incapable of synchronizing our efforts and have proven ourselves unable to bring the necessary non-military support to bear.
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Old 05-24-2010   #54
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Default Not to stir up the CoG debate, but

I have a feeling that there is a basic incompatibility between the Jones Model and the application of the CoG concept. Basically, i would suggest that they are based on different analogies: CoG (and Schwerpunkt) is based on a Newtonian understanding of physics, while the Jones Model is, implicitly, based on a more complex field model (sort of a la Kurt Lewin).

Getting back to Slap's point about Voodoo, then the factors / dimensions in the Jones model are not so much indicators as conduits / flow channels for the reification of perceptions / beliefs. "Governments" (and insurgent movements, religions and other groups of people) in and of themselves, do not exist outside the minds of those who believe in them and inasmuch as those people impose that belief, through their actions, on others. It is this belief when coupled with actions that helps to create the "mass" that CvC was referring to. In a military (conventional) context, think about "moral".

The creation / maintenance of this "mass" (and the means of continually re-producing it) is what a COIN fight is all about, and that means guarding and controlling the conduit channels of "belief" and consequent actions. It is not so much about applying your "will" to a group so much as it is about focusing your will to enforce a belief system about "reality".

Shessh, I think I need more coffee......
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Old 05-24-2010   #55
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Getting back to Slap's point about Voodoo, then the factors / dimensions in the Jones model are not so much indicators as conduits / flow channels for the reification of perceptions / beliefs. "Governments" (and insurgent movements, religions and other groups of people) in and of themselves, do not exist outside the minds of those who believe in them and inasmuch as those people impose that belief, through their actions, on others. It is this belief when coupled with actions that helps to create the "mass" that CvC was referring to. In a military (conventional) context, think about "moral".

The creation / maintenance of this "mass" (and the means of continually re-producing it) is what a COIN fight is all about, and that means guarding and controlling the conduit channels of "belief" and consequent actions. It is not so much about applying your "will" to a group so much as it is about focusing your will to enforce a belief system about "reality".

Shessh, I think I need more coffee......
That is some really good coffee you are drinking, because that sums it up rather nicely IMO. in Systems Thinking it's the feedback loop(or lack of one) that will end up controlling the whole damn thing.
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Old 05-24-2010   #56
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That is some really good coffee you are drinking, because that sums it up rather nicely IMO. in Systems Thinking it's the feedback loop(or lack of one) that will end up controlling the whole damn thing.
Mediocre at best (Folgers). I really need to get my self down to the store and get the good stuff .

Anyway, yes, some of it does come out of systems theory but via some very weird channels (i.e. ritual studies and New Religious Movements). One of the nice things about the Jones Model is that it doesn't require specific end points where the content is pre-defined.
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Old 05-24-2010   #57
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Mediocre at best (Folgers). I really need to get my self down to the store and get the good stuff .
Mrs. Folgers was a master Propagandist.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slJebNp9fxw&NR=1
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Old 05-24-2010   #58
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Mrs. Folgers was a master Propagandist.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slJebNp9fxw&NR=1
LOL - too true! Now if the message matched the reality.....
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Old 05-24-2010   #59
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Mediocre at best (Folgers). I really need to get my self down to the store and get the good stuff .

Anyway, yes, some of it does come out of systems theory but via some very weird channels (i.e. ritual studies and New Religious Movements). One of the nice things about the Jones Model is that it doesn't require specific end points where the content is pre-defined.
Recently MG Carter looked his commanders and staff in the eye and told them during a planning meeting for Kandahar: "The key to Hamkari is the creation of representative governance and representative opportunity."

Now, this is very much in line with what is proposed in the Jones Model, and I knew immediately what he was getting at, and more importantly, why it was so critical. To create these two conditions would strike at the heart of the causal perceptions of poor governance in Kandahar Provence.

Afterwords several of the commanders were discusing the meeting. One of them said: "I understand what the General wants, I just don't know what he wants me to do." This drew several nods and grunts of agreement.

This is complex stuff. Many well intentioned and very smart and experienced operators in the military, governance and development business are all doing their best to do what they think will bring stability to Afghanistan. All are operating within the guidance provided to them by their leadership. Many, however, know very little about insurgency.

Many military people want to simply defeat insurgent formations and disrupt their ability to generate decisive effects.

Many in the development business believe that if one brings electricty, paves roads, builds schools, etc stability will occur.

Many in the governance business believe that if they conduct elections and attack corruption stability will occur.

The Jones Model says that while all of those beliefs are reasonable, none are targeted directily at the perceptions of poor governance that give rise to the insurgency. They suppress the insurgent or artifically provide the things that good governance allows to occur, or they give semblences of legitimacy based on outsider perspectives.

The COG-based methodology provided here is for those who need a way to turn a fuzzy concept into specific things they can task, manage and execute. If it helps, use it. If it does not help, don't worry about it.

I have, however, made a few tweaks to the chart I provided to begin this thread, that I may post tomorrow.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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Old 05-24-2010   #60
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The Jones Model says that while all of those beliefs are reasonable, none are targeted directily at the perceptions of poor governance that give rise to the insurgency. They suppress the insurgent or artifically provide the things that good governance allows to occur, or they give semblences of legitimacy based on outsider perspectives.
What if the Taliban does not care about good governance? What if wants political power, to gain power over the population. If the population doesn't like it, they will kill them... just like they did before.

There was a civil war going in A'Stan long before NATO got there. What's that got to do with "good governance?" No one is fighting to "bring justice and peace." They are fighting to gain power over the population, to enrich themselves, socially, politically and economically.
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