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Old 12-05-2013   #21
davidbfpo
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Default Boko Haram overrun AFB

Paul Rogers has written a long commentary on Nigeria, within he says:
Quote:
There is a strong argument that the movement's violent approach is alienating the public in the areas affected. But this itself makes a specific action early on 2 December 2013 very significant. A Boko Haram operation involving scores - possibly hundreds - of paramilitaries was launched close to the city of Maiduguri, the site of Boko Haram’s foundation and long a centre of support.
Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-ro...a-and-long-war

He then cites a UK newspaper report:
Quote:
Boko Haram fighters] streamed towards Maiduguri city in the early hours of Monday in pick-up trucks and on motorcycles, before opening fire with rockets and small arms on a military base. After a five-hour battle, two helicopters, three under-repair fighter jets, vehicles, officers' housing, workshops and regimental buildings had been destroyed.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...n-Nigeria.html

Rightly Paul notes:
Quote:
A bigger problem for the government, though, was the very fact that the militants were able to overrun the base with every evidence of impunity.
Not that such attacks have not happened before in Nigeria and other, better known campaigns. After all (sigh, personal theme cometh ) terrorism is armed propaganda.
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Old 12-05-2013   #22
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A few weeks ago King Jaja linked to a NYT article reporting that Boko Haram had been substantially suppressed in Maiduguri itself. This attack is reported to have come from outside the city. The attackers descended upon the place in light vehicles. If true, this type of attack is seems fairly typical for areas in or bordering the Sahara; guys pile into HiLuxs, drive some hundreds or dozens of miles and hit a place. They often don't do so well after the initial attack.

Could this be the case in Maiduguri? Boko Haram gets mostly ejected from the city; afterwards they can raid it but can't hold it.
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Old 01-16-2014   #23
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Default President Goodluck Jonathan sacks military chief

The full BBC headline is 'Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan sacks military chiefs' may come as a surprise to readers, but all is normal:
Quote:
BBC Nigeria analyst Naziru Mikailu says Mr Jonathan's decision does not come as a complete surprise because there is a tradition in Nigeria of sacking military chiefs.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25759755
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Old 02-28-2014   #24
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I think the non-military response to Boko Haram has been mentioned, but this article provides an update. The quote is the title and sub-title:
Quote:
Youth Vigilantes Stand Up to Boko Haram, but at a Cost

With Civilian Joint Task Force units having some success in suppressing Boko Haram attacks in urban areas, the Islamist militants have shifted their focus to rural civilians.
Link:http://thinkafricapress.com/nigeria/...oko-haram-cost
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Old 02-28-2014   #25
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Boko Haram has decided mass murder of civilians is a legitimate tactic. War to the knife I guess. God pity Nigeria.
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Old 03-01-2014   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carl View Post
Boko Haram has decided mass murder of civilians is a legitimate tactic. War to the knife I guess. God pity Nigeria.
Its the African way of war Carl. Kill each others civilians while avoiding direct military to military action - unless you have overwhelming odds.
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Old 03-01-2014   #27
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Default "African Way of War" ...

or, is there a more generalized principle here:

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Kill each others civilians while avoiding direct military to military action - unless you have overwhelming odds.
if, for a moment in considering this, we leave aside Carl's implicit caveat re: whether "mass murder of civilians [can ever be] a legitimate tactic."

The rest of the equation (..."avoiding direct military to military action - unless you have overwhelming odds.") seems the first rule of warfare - Nathan Bedford Forrest:



who actually said: "Ma'am, I got there first with the most men." (true scoop; "git thar fustest with the mostest" was a NYT concoction). In either phraseology, we see Momentum (Mass times Velocity) as the key concept.

No doubt Forrest was one of the brightest bulbs in the Confederate marquee (Stonewall Jackson was another), but Forrest (like so many other bright bulbs) sometimes went to the dark side - e.g.,



and then there was Fort Pillow - which brings us back to the issues of massacres (whether murdering civilians or captured soldiers seems not an important distinction).

Most mass killings today are reported as "senseless slaughters of innocent civilians without purpose." Very few people today have actually studied massacres, with a dispassionate eye, and questioned whether those killings are indeed "senseless" and "without purpose" - and, indeed, looking objectively at whether those killings were effective (sometimes "yes", sometimes "no").

The principal researcher in this area over the last couple of decades has been Stathis Kalyvas. This post, Selective Violence By Kalyvas, in the Rhodesian COIN thread, lists most of his online publications (9 at the time). Kalyvas is going to satisfy no one's political correctness; e.g., this snip from his 2009 book chapter (p.20 pdf):

Quote:
To begin with, had I relied on historical data, it is highly likely that I would have undercounted two key variables: the level of selective violence (which turns out to reach 50.48% of all homicides) and the level of insurgent violence (which accounts for 51.31% of the fatalities). The reason is that the historical record has preserved the more visible large indiscriminate massacres rather than the individualized targeted killings. Furthermore, it has also privileged [JMM: "emphasized"] the more visible (and politically more blameworthy) violence of the incumbents rather than the violence of the insurgents. Last, I would have been completely unable to distinguish between selective and indiscriminate violence or to disaggregate violence by time period.
and, in emphasizing that the all-important factor of control cannot be approached simplistically (p.21-22 pdf):

Quote:
Such an example is contained in a recent paper by Humphreys and Weinstein (2006) that uses survey data from Sierra Leone to estimate a model of civilian abuse by armed groups. Having coded no variable for control, they rely on a substitute called “dominance,” which records the estimated size of a unit relative to the estimated total number of troops in the zone. This measure, however, is highly problematic as any student of insurgency and counterinsurgency would easily surmise: the ability of an armed group to control a particular locality is only partly a function of the raw numbers of combatants.

Control is a function of the distribution of these troops across an area with specific geographical features, combined with the number, commitment, and distribution of civilian supporters across the same area.[7]

7. This paper also fails to distinguish between selective and indiscriminate violence. Again, lack of appropriate coding is justified by a dubious argument whereby this distinction is “blurred” (Humphreys and Weinstein 2006, 444). The entire exercise is quite problematic as the type of abuse described in the paper is clearly of an indiscriminate nature, thus rendering its test of theories of selective violence pointless.

In short, when it comes to coding territorial control there is no easy alternative to either direct and careful data collection using all available sources, or prior coding by the insurgents or counterinsurgents themselves, when they do leave extensive archival material behind.
What Kalyvas' various studies (most outside Africa) prove is that, in many cases (just over 50% per above), the civilian killings are selective, which implicates a rational process which has some expectation of success in reducing the opponent's measure of control by selectively killing the opponent's civilian supporters in the key geographical area.

I suspect that, even in the area of "indiscriminate" killings, there is more rationality in the minds of the killers than the politically correct "historical" studies will admit. For example, Village A seems to the insurgent to support the incumbent, but the insurgent lacks specific intel as to which villagers are key incumbent supporters (thus, excluding for the moment, targeted killings by the insurgent). A rational (though more risky than targeted killing) plan is to kill all the villagers, or a randomly-selected percentage of them, etc.

In fact, one could find rationality even in events such as the Rwandan genocide. In those cases, Population Group A takes the place of Village A. Of course, in Rwanda, the genocide was kicked off by targeted killings of those people who seemed to the killers to be key opponents.

The Mongols were certainly a very well organized, strictly disciplined and rational military force; but also ruthlessly genocidal for solid, practical reasons. See, Passing the Mongol Wheel Test; and the some 5K hits from Googling "mongol massacres"

John Gisogod's "Massacres" is no longer in original form online, but its text is still here; and is attached below. His conclusions about why the Mongols did what they did seem valid to me:

Quote:
When Genghis Khan attempts the conquest of the world (1209), the Mongol population numbers between 400 000 and 600 000 inhabitants, among which 200 000 are warriors. Together, all the countries targeted for conquest can muster a global population of more than 200 millions inhabitants (which is then 400 times the total number of inhabitants in Mongolia). The Mongols are a tiny minority and their army is almost always outnumbered when facing the various enemies on countless battlefields.

The fact that their enemies are much more numerous triggers an inferiority complex among the Mongols, and the panic fear that their armies may be drowned some day in the multitude of the conquered populations. The only solution to make these conquered populations less dangerous, would be to decrease their numbers; and the only way to achieve that would be to massacre an important part of each of them.
...
If one asks: why all those massacres?, the only answer that comes to mind is military necessity. The coming of the Mongol horsemen was generally not followed by rebellion (except in the Khwarezm and especially the Khorassan), because the revolts were crushed beforehand by a terror without precedent. Such massacres, when 98% of the population of certain regions is exterminated, leave a lasting impression. When only 2% of the population is left alive, terror works and the survivors have no inclination to revolt anymore.

Furthermore, during a military campaign, depopulation is sometimes the most convenient means of securing the rear. There is no need to leave behind an occupation army in a depopulated land. The great novelty is to be able to control a territory without ever having to occupy it.

Partisan war against the occupier is impossible. You cannot harass the occupier, then there is no occupation. This kind of remote control (the Mongol armies are stationed far away from the rare conquered cities that have been left intact) renders all modern techniques of urban guerrilla warfare or jungle warfare completely inefficient against the Mongols.
Since carnage bothers me, I don't know whether I could have done what Subotai did. I do understand his rationale in military necessity for doing what he did.

And so it went in our first European military classic:

Quote:
Agamemnon: "My dear Menelaus, why are you so chary of taking men's lives? Did the Trojans treat you as handsomely as that when they stayed in your house? No; we are not going to leave a single one of them alive, down to the babies in their mothers' wombs--not even they must live. The whole people must be wiped out of existence, and none be left to think of them and shed a tear."
----Homer, Iliad
From one of R.J. Rummel's many pages on "Democide" - which only considers the carnage wracked up by governments, saying nothing of their opponents.

So, agreed that "it" marks the African Way of War, but "we" should be aware that "we" are not far removed from that jungle and its tipping point.

Regards

Mike
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Gisogod, Mongol Massacres 01.pdf (22.3 KB, 161 views)
File Type: pdf Gisogod, Mongol Massacres 02.pdf (17.4 KB, 87 views)
File Type: pdf Gisogod, Mongol Massacres 03.pdf (13.1 KB, 84 views)

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Old 03-01-2014   #28
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Jim,

Interesting post, one that could be copied as relevant to a number of discussions in the SWJ. An excerpt from your quote,
Quote:
When only 2% of the population is left alive, terror works and the survivors have no inclination to revolt anymore.
With our so called new theories on COIN and our precision targeting for more conventional wars where we make herculean efforts to avoid killing innocent civilians it seems alien to us that others would pursue a strategy that is very focused on cowing the population via coercion/fear to achieve their ends.

My argument on why I think our COIN doctrine is failing in Afghanistan and failed in Iraq is our assumption that protecting the populace was decisive instead of defeating those who threaten the populace. Protecting the populace against a militant threat that can mass very capable forces relative to indigenous security forces securing the various towns/villages results in a bad math equation for our partners. They're required to protect all 24/7, while our adversaries have the ability to mass power on particular points of their choosing. Our partners in Iraq and Afghanistan can't mass forces proactively nation wide. If we ultimately leave a safehaven in Pakistan for our adversaries to launch attacks from, regardless of well trained the Afghanistan security forces may be, we're leaving them with a very tough mission. On a much smaller level, we can see how a very rich nation has a tough challenge securing a small part of its border when you look at our efforts to secure our southern border.

In my opinion there seems to little appreciation of realism in our doctrine, and a lot of focus on "hope."
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Old 03-02-2014   #29
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Bill:

Your right. What we do seems to be conceived and evaluated in cloud cuckoo land.

I think the dead men who knew about this kind of thing, Pershing, Galula, McCuen, Johnston, Taft, MacKenzie and many more, would have the same opinion as you.
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Old 03-02-2014   #30
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Default Voices Crying in the Wilderness ?? - Part 1

Bill, and everyone else interested:

These monographs take some digesting, but the following people are worth reading - those who don't like unconventional thinking should probably not bother.

Hazelton, Compellence and Accommodation in Counterinsurgency Warfare (2011) (full 376 pp. version; grab this freebie before it disappears; it's over $80 at Amazon). Here's the Abstract:

Quote:
Abstract:

The United States today defines its greatest security threats as insurgents and terrorists. It is trying to defeat them with a method of counterinsurgency (COIN) known as the population-centric approach. Is the conventional wisdom correct in claiming that the population-centric approach is the key to defeating insurgencies? No.

This project tests the population-centric approach to COIN through a structured, focused comparison, within-case comparison, and process tracing based on archival research and interviews. It finds that purported population-centric successes were not in fact conducted as such. It finds that population-centric COIN is exceedingly difficult to put into practice for reasons inherent to the paradigm. It further asks why states are only able to defeat insurgencies sometimes and develops an alternative theory of COIN success.

The population-centric paradigm prescribes building strong, responsive, distributive states while strictly limiting the use of force to avoid civilian casualties. This relative emphasis grows from the assumption that the key to victory is gaining broad popular allegiance to the state and thus marginalizing the insurgency.

But the population-centric approach is theoretically and empirically mistaken in its assumptions; in its relative emphasis on lots of political reform and only a little fighting; and in its mechanism of building broad popular support. State building and development are processes separate from COIN. My findings suggest that U.S. policy goals based on the population-centric model may be over-ambitious, extremely costly, and simply impossible to achieve.

I argue that COIN success since 1945 is a function of a heavy reliance on the use of force plus limited, targeted political accommodations that together degrade insurgent capabilities in an iterative process of compellence. The state succeeds by fighting, harrying, exhausting, threatening, conciliating, rewarding, and showing the other two key actors—the insurgency and the populace—that guerrilla victory is impossible. Success is not primarily about killing, although at times the counterinsurgent may kill many people. It is primarily about using force to deny victory to the insurgency.

Cases: Dhofar, Oman, 1965–1976: the Philippines-Huks, 1946–1955; Turkey-PKK, 1991–1999; US-Vietnam, 1956–1965; El Salvador, 1979–1992.
Hazelton, Excerpt from Compellence and Accommodation in Counterinsurgency Warfare - Chapter 3 The Case Of Dhofar, Oman, 1965-1976 (2011) (52 pp., a fair sample).

From the conclusion of the full monograph (p.324):

Quote:
In sum, I have determined that the widely heralded population-centric approach is based on a fundamental misreading of past cases and in fact there appears to be an alternative approach, derived from my cases, that seems to work.

This alternative approach, the enemy-centric-plus model, includes four elements:

1) building and professionalizing the military arms of the state to improve targeting and reduce the routine, casual abuse of the populace;

2) providing limited, targeted accommodations to political entrepreneurs whose cooperation strengthens the state’s ability to target the insurgency;

3) targeting the insurgency directly, separately from the populace; and

4) targeting and controlling the populace to restrict the flow of resources to the insurgency.[1]

1 This fourth element is still necessary in cases where the insurgency does not have broad popular support, e.g. in cases where the insurgent-popular relationship is largely coercive and in cases where the insurgency supports itself through the extraction of lootable resources such as timber or gems. This is so because even if the populace does not provide material support to insurgents or provides them only under duress, the insurgency still requires that noncombatants not tell the state what they know about its activities, members, bases, and caches. Population and resource control measures include such things as rationing, a census, identity cards, and checkpoints.
Hazelton, The False Promise of the Governance Model of Counterinsurgency Warfare (2012) (54 pp.):

Quote:
Abstract:

What explains success in counterinsurgency (COIN)? The conventional wisdom says that COIN success requires major reforms that will remove the popular grievances fueling the insurgency. The logic is that state building and good governance will win broad popular support, marginalizing the insurgent cause and weakening the guerrillas. But this view of COIN success, what I term the “governance model,” relies on a misreading of history.

This study tests the governance approach in the very cases proponents themselves present as models -- the British campaign in Malaya, the U.S.-backed defeat of the Huks in the Philippines, the British-led success in Dhofar, Oman, and the U.S.-backed success in El Salvador -- a test it should pass easily. But the model fails. I find no empirical evidence that the governance approach defeats insurgencies. Indeed, the governance approach was not even applied in these cases.

It is very difficult to apply -- even imperfectly -- for a powerful reason: Major reforms threaten the interests of the elites expected to implement them. In addition, the elites' great power sponsor lacks the leverage to force the issue. This study shows that the governance model is theoretically and empirically mistaken in its assumptions; its emphasis on major reforms; and its mechanism of building popular support for the state as the key to defeating the insurgency.

The cases typically identified as exemplars of governance COIN contradict the governance approach in all respects. Each case included significant intentional uses of force against civilians and relatively little state development or democratization. This research suggests that policymakers and military planners relying on the governance approach base their decisions on a myth, and that employing this approach in current or future conflicts will not lead to success.
Alach, Slowing Military Change (2008, SSI, 107 pp.). IMO: his most material point (p.64):

Quote:
THE REVOLUTION IN ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE MILITARY

Perception leads into the “one” of the six (and one) noted earlier, and perhaps n the one theme that is truly novel; it may well be the theme that has the greatest effect on the future shape of the strategic environment.

It is closely related to both globalization and the RMA, and it is another revolution: the Revolution in Attitudes towards the Military (RAM).[238] Grossly simplified, it refers to a change in perceptions that is especially apparent in Western democracies. Populations are less willing to serve, demand greater civilian control over defense matters, and are far more casualty averse.

While there has been some alteration to those attitudes in some countries since the events of 9/11, by and large they grow continually stronger around the globe. Militaries have become more politically correct, have embraced diversity and sexual equality, and have become tagged more and more with such roles as peace operations and civil reconstruction, rather than warfighting.

Support for militaries is as high, if not higher, than was the case historically, but the character of that support has changed. Partly, the RAM has come about through the increasing reach of the media, but it is also a sign of the changing political maturity of electorates around the world. Without the overarching threat of the Cold War, the public seldom sees a military cause worth dying or killing for in any great numbers. At the same time, they are wary of the limitations that the high cost of military acquisitions impose on other domestic spending programs.

238. Black, War in the New Century, p. 9.
In his second monograph (next post), Alach moves away from the technology of warfighting ("RMA") to the psychology of the warfighters and of those who send them to war ("RAM").

- to be cont.-

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Old 03-02-2014   #31
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Default Voices Crying in the Wilderness ?? - Part 2

Alach, The New Aztecs - Ritual and Restraint in Contemporary Western Military Operations (2011, SSI, pp.81):

Quote:
SUMMARY

Centuries ago, the Aztecs of Central America fought their wars in a ritualized and restrained manner, not seeking total victory but rather the capture of live prisoners. It was a style of warfare that seems strange to us today, who have been brought up on Clausewitzian concepts of the meaning of war. We think of ourselves as scientific, instrumentalist practitioners of the art of war, seeking maximum military effectiveness.

The key argument of this monograph is that the Western way of war has actually come full circle and returned to its primitive roots. The monograph begins by identifying the primary factors that shape war. It then studies the evolution of warfare over time, beginning with what is known as primitive warfare. War began as glorified hunting, an extension of martial culture, heavily circumscribed by both ritual and restraint. The monograph then examines the major historical eras of warfare. While there was no steady evolution in a single direction, by and large, warfare became less and less subject to cultural restraint, and more and more total.

The monograph then briefly examines a range of recent Western operations that show a clear move away from total war and back toward ritual and restraint. Our most recent wars are driven far more by cultural beliefs and moral standards, including respect for international law, than they are by considerations of raw military effectiveness. A secondary argument, linked intimately to the first, is that we in the West, especially the media, do not seem to realize that we are limiting our arms to such an extent. We continue to see contemporary warfare as brutal and extremely deadly.

The monograph then posits a series of interlinked factors contributing to this re-emergent ritual and restraint. The main factors are a decline in the perceived utility of war, sociocultural attitudes in the West, the impact of democracy, and the professionalism of contemporary soldiers. Finally, the monograph looks at the implications of this return to ritual and restraint. Are the “new Aztecs” in danger of appeasing the “sun god,” but ignoring the conquistadors at the gates?
Alach's bottom line is generally somber (pp.37-39):

Quote:
THE IMPLICATIONS OF RITUAL AND RESTRAINT

This monograph has taken the position that the West, turning aside from the progression of history, has returned, at least for now, to a ritualized and restrained method of warfare, albeit for very different reasons than those that motivated primitive tribes to behave in such a manner. What does this mean for the West?

A positive implication is the possibility that Western military behavior will affect the behavior of other military cultures. This may then lead to humanitarian, restrained warfare becoming the norm. It will likely have positive effects for humanity as a whole, strengthening respect for life and reducing the number of people who die from conflict. However, there are other more ominous implications as well.

One is that that the West will lose an accurate understanding of the nature of war. The longer it continues to fight in a constrained manner, the more normalized that methodology will become. The decision making spectrum available to leaders for future military endeavors will be restricted to those low-danger, low-intensity options favored today.

A further implication of this style of warfare is that future military operations will be driven by public opinion and politics more than by policy. Traditionally, it has been the role of leaders to lead; while they have been cognizant of popular beliefs, they have also understood that there are some elements of national policy that are unpopular, but necessary. In some ways, this is still so in the West; countries are still willing to embark on unpopular expeditions. The problem develops, however, when leaders are “anxious to go to war, but unwilling to fight.” Leaders, ignorant of the realities of war, try to limit the political harm flowing from an unpopular operation by heavily restricting the methods used in order to minimize the casualties and costs.

Another implication is the prospect of the West losing the moral high ground through grandiose efforts to keep the moral high ground—paradoxically a self-defeating approach. Treating one’s enemy with some respect is wise, for it prevents overconfidence.

However, if the West continues to demand that its forces treat its enemies with extraordinary respect, take maximum care to avoid collateral damage, and even avoid the killing of enemy combatants, the end result may well be an increase in the public cachet of the enemy. Expectations determine perceptions.

The final implications relate to military effectiveness.

First, there is the question of whether or not ritualized and restrained methods of conflict are actually counterproductive on the battlefield, especially when fighting a foe whose methods are unrestrained.

The second is to question whether or not restrained methods have the unintended effect of extending the duration of wars, which in turn increases the overall harm inflicted by the conflict. If this is so, then by trying to limit the brutality of war, the West may make it ultimately even more harmful.

The third element is the potential effect of such a style of warfare on the West’s future effectiveness. As noted, ritualized and restrained wars usually last a long time. By maintaining a series of overseas garrisons for the foreseeable future, the West may well weaken itself substantially. Militaries may become so focused on these low-intensity, long-duration operations that their efficacy for other operations will decline.

It pays to consider the Aztecs. At the time of the Flower Wars, the Aztecs were hegemonic in Central America. They could fight in a ritualized way because they had no true rival. When a rival did appear—a rival named Cortes, who fought in an amoral, instrumental, rational, unrestrained, and non-ritualized manner—the Aztecs were defeated. Cortes fought to kill. He fought to win.

Is there a Cortes awaiting the West today? Will we, the contemporary Flower Warriors, face a foe who, to be defeated, requires our willingness to kill, be killed, and fight to the bitter end? Is the current style of Western warfare but a mere historical blip, a momentary anomaly that will disappear when the world changes again? History cannot answer that question, but we had better be prepared to answer it ourselves.
The next author, Anna Simons, sees Cortes having a definite advantage over the contemporary Flower Warrior.

- to be cont.-
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Old 03-02-2014   #32
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Default Voices Crying in the Wilderness ?? - Part 3

Picking up where Alach left off is Anna Simons, 21st Century Cultures of War - Advantage Them (2013, NPS, 64 pp.), whose title answers the "Cortes" question - the contemporary Flower Warriors will fare as badly as the Aztecs.

Quote:
INTRODUCTION

This paper aims to sound two alarms. First, about “them.” We Americans have long assumed many non-Westerners are more primitive, less advanced, and ultimately less capable than we are. This is a mistaken view. Not only are many much more sophisticated than we realize, but they are especially adept in the realm of social relations, which has never been our strong suit.

Consequently, one challenge we face is that in much the same way our technological prowess led the Soviets to overreach (and thus the Soviet Union to collapse), non-Westerners’ ability to outmaneuver us in the field of social relations will lead us to continue to overextend ourselves. And worse, we won’t achieve clear wins. In writing this I do not mean to imply that our overreach will be purposely orchestrated by any one actor or set of actors, although that remains a distinct possibility. Rather, people abroad (and here at home, working on behalf of people abroad) will continue to seek U.S. military assistance for a host of reasons, both venal and legitimate, and the effects will continue to be cumulatively corrosive. Just look at our current culture of war—which brings me to the second source of alarm: us.

Our technical ingenuity, our work ethic, and our productive capacity have long distinguished us. Engineering, one could say, is our forte. We Americans make things work. All of which would appear to stand our military in good stead. And indeed, until recently, our “can do,” problem-solving professionalism did advantage us. However, no longer. I write “no longer” because we no longer seem to want to apply our comparative strengths definitively. At the same time, “can do” overstates what we can accomplish. ...
On the issue of "Restrained warfare":

Quote:
3) Restrained warfare. Since the advent of the Cold War, every “war” the U.S. has fought has been limited which, by definition, means restrained; we neither go all out nor commit our entire arsenal to winning. The U.S. has been able to wage limited wars thanks to our positioning and resources. No one can out-produce us. Geographically, we remain impossible to overrun. Better still, in every conflict since the Mexican War, we have fought “over there.”

This has been hugely significant. It means that we actually could have fought with less restraint had we so chosen, and that we are the ones who have decided to limit the nature of war. We like to think we have done so for ideological and moral reasons. But, on closer examination, this might be as much an artifact of the dawning of the nuclear age and the Cold War, coinciding with the luxury of no near-peer adversaries apart from the USSR. After all, no one we have fought against has really fought back: not Panamanians, Somalis, Serbs, or even the Iraqi Army.

World War II marks several watersheds. Among them, our rules of engagement have grown increasingly complicated and more discriminating, while non-Westerners increasingly target non-combatants. Or, as Zhivan Alach has put it, while “The West may be retreating toward restraint in warfare… non-Western actors may be charging headlong toward unrestrained methods.” Actually, the anthropologically correct observation would be that everyone demonstrates restraint—it is just that what constitutes restraint is cross-culturally contingent, and non-Westerners don’t apply the same brakes we do. Not only are non-Westerners who seize power bolder in what they are willing to do, but they exhibit no discernible remorse.

For obvious reasons, comity between a society’s conception of war and how combatants would fight if they were unconstrained is harder to achieve or maintain in democracies and heterogeneous states than in militarized (especially militarized tribally based) societies, which leads to yet another Western/non-Western rub.
...
... At least since WWII, policy makers in, and not just out of, the military have helped habituate the Services to regard fighting as a signaling device. Recall Vietnam—the U.S. bombed Hanoi to get the North Vietnamese to negotiate; bombing wasn’t done to force them to give up. Or more recently there is the example of Kosovo and our 79-day-long air war.
...
... Yet, treating war as a messaging device overlooks two truisms about the use of force. First, in Western/non-Western contests, miscommunication is all but guaranteed. We only deceive ourselves when we assume others understand, or will want to understand, or will not want to purposely misunderstand the intent in our messaging. Second, fighting never feels semiotic to those engaged in it.
On "Wile":

Quote:
Wile requires at least four attributes:

1) the ability to identify that feature or set of features in an adversary’s culture that can be used as the fulcrum by, with, and through which to permanently alter conditions,

2) the ability to read all players so that you know how to appeal to, neutralize, and/or outwit each equally well,

3) an intuitive ability to tease, test, and probe so that you can make your own opportunities and don’t operate on others’ timeline(s), and

4) an appetite for twitting others, which means relishing the idea of turning the tables on adversaries in order to cause them to undo themselves.

At best, the most unconventional U.S. units today strive to “screw with others’ heads,” which they can generally do only after commanders figure out how to wrest the right authorities from the right agencies and bureaucracies. Then, should such individuals succeed at fusing their information operations, psyop, strategic communications, and operator capabilities to sow dissension and distrust, at best they can cause problems at the tactical and operational levels: they usually don’t have the wherewithal to strategically coordinate beyond their area of operations.

This is why to truly “screw with their heads” requires that commanders be able to apply wile: a) locally, b) coordinating across locations and over time, and c) supra-locally in order to both buy and control time.

Of course, to give the military its best shot at mastering a situation so that others can’t effectively maneuver it, or anything else, against us—to include youth, accidental guerrillas, or public sentiment—calls for unrestrained warfare. But, given current sensibilities, this hardly appears an option. Thus, seeking to “screw with others’ heads” provides one way to augment the use of force. Or, replace it.

However, we would make a massive, but classically American mistake, to assume that wile is something the military can either teach or train. William Donovan and the OSS recognized how uncommon an attribute wile is. They also realized it was a trait that needs to be selected for ...
Answering the quest for wily coyotes, Lindeman, Better Lucky Than Good - A Theory of Unconventional Minds and the Power of 'Who' (2009, NPS; Anna Simons was his thesis advisor) (161 pp.). IMO: His most material point:

Quote:
B. THEORY OF AN UNCONVENTIONAL MIND

Simons suggests that succeeding in irregular warfare, especially when operating in foreign cultures and with “Others,” requires something that cannot be taught—or trained. The right “kind” of mind is necessary. She makes it clear that this is an important distinction. It is not temporal, like a frame of mind. It is a permanent kind of mind.[3] It’s an unconventional kind of mind.

To understand what an unconventional kind of mind is, it is important to first understand what a conventional kind of mind is. Given a conventional kind of mind, an individual’s ability to evaluate, process, and contend with new or different situations is bounded by domain and wedded to past actions. An individual with an unconventional kind of mind is not bound by these constraints. Someone with an unconventional kind of mind is capable of synthesizing across domains or innovating in order to solve problems while orienting and adapting to new circumstances or changing conditions.

This thesis posits that success in an irregular warfare environment requires individuals with an unconventional kind of mind; some individuals naturally think unconventionally, or irregularly, compared to everyone else. These individuals have a natural ability to, as Simons writes:

Quote:
...intuitively think in terms of branches and sequels, and therefore don’t need to ask themselves what the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order effects of an action might be–they’ve already factored that in without consciously factoring it in. Or they have the ability to see angles from angles that remain obtuse to others.[4]
These are the first-stringers that America should be seeking to employ in irregular warfare.

3 & 4. Anna Simons and Mike Weathers, “Anthropology and Irregular Warfare – India,” (Unpublished paper, Naval Postgraduate School, 2008), 20-21.
All worth reading.

Regards

Mike
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Old 03-02-2014   #33
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[snip for brevity]

So, agreed that "it" marks the African Way of War, but "we" should be aware that "we" are not far removed from that jungle and its tipping point.

Regards

Mike
Mike thank you. Acting in haste my attempt to put my thoughts into one sentence left a lot to be desired.

Once again I place on record the example of just how thin the veneer of civilisation is in Europe as demonstated during the Bosnian war. One does not have to mention the near sub-human depravity of the Germans (and Japanese) around 1939-45.

I merely state that in African wars it is the civilian population which is specifically targeted. Let us not talk of insurgents now as decolonialisation is complete and Africans now fight against Africans in their manner.

These wars are tribal or religious (plus a few other reasons) where the enemy is everyone on the opposssssing side. Old men, women and children specifically included.

All members of an opposing tribe are the enemy. All Moslems or all Christians are the enemy. This down to infants and the unborn and not only those under arms.

To most westerners the wholesale massacre of women and children is unpalatable and unacceptable... not so for many others across the world.

As far as actual fighting is concerned Mao taught insurgents:

“The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue”

In more conventional interstate wars the fighting takes places between two armies where civilians can get in the way and need to be avoided.

In African wars fighting between armed groups is most often fleeting where one side will flee if they believe they are outgunned and outnumbered after initial wild exchanges. This leaves the victor to deal with the remaining 'enemy' (read old men, women and children) in the surrounding villages in the classic rape, loot and pillage style.
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Old 03-02-2014   #34
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With our so called new theories on COIN and our precision targeting for more conventional wars where we make herculean efforts to avoid killing innocent civilians it seems alien to us that others would pursue a strategy that is very focused on cowing the population via coercion/fear to achieve their ends. "
Thats right and its down to who blinks first.

Remember that we impose upon ourselves the burden of believing that all civilians are innocent.

You look at the circus this has led to in Afghanistan.

This is not a call to kill civilians but rather to get real about who is doing during a war. One would have thought the Vietnam experience would have led to some truth coming home to the US military but sadly looking at Afghanistan nothing was learned.

Worth a read is the following:

The Art of Coercion: The Primitive Accumulation and Management of Coercive Power
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Old 03-02-2014   #35
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Remember that we impose upon ourselves the burden of believing that all civilians are innocent.
This is a subject which badly needs discussion - not in this thread, I'll add; but in one of the threads looking at the policies and resultant rules concerning civilians and who may be targeted for neutralization (kill, detain, convert). Now, eventually back to the thread, but first.

Your link to The Art of Coercion: The Primitive Accumulation and Management of Coercive Power (Amazon) was broken (at least for me). After reading the Amazon blurb, and this book review by Dale Walton:

Quote:
Giustozzi clearly appreciates the complexity of historical formation, collapse, and reformation of polities—and that this progression is not inevitably a “one-way” street. Thus, he digs deeply into the historical record to understand how coercive power is accumulated, translated into power over a geographical area, and progressively expanded outward.

He advances a number of interlinking hypotheses regarding how this occurs.

First, he asserts “that institution-building is a key aspect of any process of taming violence” (p. 7).

Second, he claims that “pre-empting hostile collective action through co-option, alliances, manipulation and intimidation is as important as the mere accumulation of means of coercion, and entire agencies of the state have been developed historically to implement this task” (p. 9).

Third, Giustozzi believes that the primitive accumulation of power generally is a ruthlessly violent process, with civil conflict continuing until one faction can establish a monopoly on violence—but, notably, even that monopoly may be broken, causing the process to begin again.

Fourth, he says, “Often in civil conflicts, violence is employed according to a logic and is therefore only seemingly indiscriminate. But sophisticated military political actors clearly understand what kind of violence is counter-productive,” with sophistication meaning at least some actors in a conflict comprehend this reality, even if that is not the case with all of them (p. 12).

Fifth, says Giustozzi, “Policing is a specific strategy of consolidating the monopoly of violence” (p. 14).

Sixth, he asserts that “the renegotiation of the terms of the political settlement, which may include changes in the command and control structure within the coercive apparatus, may weaken the ability of the ruling elite to operate in a coordinated fashion and endanger the monopoly of violence” (p. 16-17).

His final, and no doubt most controversial, hypothesis “is that external intervention, even in its milder form of advice and support, is most likely to be counter-productive in achieving and maintaining the monopoly of violence” (p. 18).

Given the general thrust of his hypotheses, it is unsurprising that Giustozzi has a rather grim view of the process of state-building; he straightforwardly challenges some of the core assumptions undergirding liberal interventionism, and his critique reflects the views of a writer who has an insightful and nuanced understanding of the issues at hand. It is striking that even most of the supposed successes of liberal interventionism are at best decidedly incomplete, according to Giustozzi.
I ordered a used hardcover version. If Walton is accurate, Giustozzi describes what I've concluded in looking at Norman England and the Ile de France of the period ca. 1100-1450.

Also, since I been an opponent of "liberal intervention" from 1964 (Hal McMaster's Dereliction of Duty and Bill Corson's The Betrayal tell it true of that one - IMO, of course), Giustozzi has to be something of "friendly" territory for me.

While waiting for the book to come, I did chase down Giustozzi a bit (who's written mucho on Astan); but, I thought this more general article, Double-edged swords: armies, elite bargaining and state building - An overview paper (2011, CSRC, 34pp.), might be a fair sampler of his book:

Quote:
Conclusion: organisation vs. coercion

The case studies for this overview paper, which will be published in a separate volume, allow us to make a number of points.

The first one is that even ‘virtuous’ techniques of civilian control over the military and of institutionalisation of the armed forces can lead to unexpected negative results, particularly if the civilian counterpart is weak and divided. In other words it is inappropriate to see techniques as good or bad per se, since their impact depends on the wider political and social context. Given a context not conducive to the establishment of what North et al. (2009) call ‘open access orders’, these techniques are not necessarily better or more appropriate than any other.

Therefore, a wider range of techniques for taming violence has to be explored in order to identify realistic options to secure at least some conditions that are necessary for a developmental take-off: the consolidation of a state monopoly over violence; the reaching of a political settlement; and the establishment of a relatively effective state machinery. Any particular technique or strategy has trade-offs; none work in every circumstance or suit every need.

It is also obvious from our case studies that elite bargaining can come at the expense of the effectiveness of the agencies of coercion. Like other agencies of the state, the armed forces often become the object of the distribution of the spoils during the formulation of the bargain. Alternatively, the army will be formed through the incorporation of separate militias, which were until recently fighting each other and which are linked to the different partners in the bargaining process.

This is particularly the case when the ruling elite is not organised around a solid political organisation with a wide social base, either developed as an insurgent organisation or as an expression of sectors of civil society. A solid political party might be able to mediate the formulation of the elite bargain and incorporate factions and individuals in a more regulated, institutionalised way, as arguably was the case in Tanzania. ...
In looking at the other CSRC papers, we have on "elite bargaining", specifically in an African context, these three by Stefan Lindemann:

Do inclusive elite bargains matter? A research framework for understanding the causes of civil war in Sub-Saharan Africa (2008, 33 pp.).

Inclusive elite bargains and civil war avoidance: The case of Zambia (2010, 64pp.).

Exclusionary elite bargains and civil war onset: The case of Uganda (2010, 80pp.)

In the CAR thread, KingJaja said:

Quote:
Africa's problems are for Africans to solve. My point is that after the seemingly endless cycle of violence and external intervention - at a certain point, some unstable states will either fall apart permanently or work out an indigenous solution to their teething problems.

CAR for example, has bifurcated - it a essentially a "Christian" enclave in the South and a much smaller "Muslim" enclave in the North. No amount of elections will change that essential reality. And international community is wasting time by impeding the process of formation of two independent separate states in that part of the World.

In my native Nigeria, we are preparing for a National Dialogue, a three month discussion on what different ethnic nationalities want from the Nigerian state. This goes beyond mere elections, Africa's artificial states have flawed foundations and the best way forward is for locals to proactively discuss these challenges and build a state that caters to their needs (not a mere ex-colonial administrative unit).
KJ: What is your opinion of these Westerners' competence in addressing contemporary African state development ? Are they merely junk science or do they at least understand the African picture ?

Regards

Mike

Last edited by jmm99; 03-02-2014 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 03-03-2014   #36
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Since the subject of Aztecs and Conquistadors is part of the discussion, perhaps a reference that shows the ferocity and finality of that collision is warranted.

This is a brilliant book.

http://www.amazon.com/Conquest-Corte...st+hugh+thomas
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Old 03-05-2014   #37
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Default Ethnic violence in Nigeria: a historical perspective

Interesting read on the roots of ethnic violence in Nigeria & the role of the British in promoting ethnic divisions.

Written by a respected Nigerian academic.

http://www.indiana.edu/~workshop/pap...oli_021003.pdf

I expect similar accounts for the French in their ex-colonies.
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Old 03-05-2014   #38
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KingJaja,

Is it not time to move away from the intellectual dishonesty that continues to flow out of the ex-colonies in Africa?

The lie that is being sold to the ignorant and gullable in Europe and North America is that all the African tribes and ethnic groups lived in perfect harmony until the European colonists arrived.

The greatest contribution your generation can make is to stop the incessant resuscitation of this garbage and address the truth of history ... and move on and take responsibility for the future of your respective countries.

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Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
Interesting read on the roots of ethnic violence in Nigeria & the role of the British in promoting ethnic divisions.

Written by a respected Nigerian academic.

http://www.indiana.edu/~workshop/pap...oli_021003.pdf

I expect similar accounts for the French in their ex-colonies.
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Old 03-05-2014   #39
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Default Northern Cameroon Under Threat from Boko Haram and Slka Militants

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The Tenth Parallel North has been described as the "fault line where Islam and Christianity meet and clash." [1] In Africa, the Tenth Parallel passes west to east through Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia. Cameroon is the only one of these countries to avoid major ethnic, religious, sectarian or terrorism-related conflict in the last decade.

However, militants are now using Cameroon as a rear base for carrying out attacks in Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR). These groups include Boko Haram and Ansaru in northern Cameroon and (CAR) militants, including Slka, in eastern Cameroon. Cameroon is likely to see new security threats spilling over into its territory from its two Tenth Parallel neighbors, as well as increasing pressures on the state from refugee flows into Cameroon from Nigeria and the CAR.
http://www.refworld.org/docid/52e0e6d84.html

Interesting analysis
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Old 03-13-2014   #40
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Default Nigeria: Benue Gov, Fulani Herdsmen in Gun Battle

Another crisis (has nothing to do with either the Niger Delta or Boko Haram) in Nigeria's volatile "Middle Belt".

Could Nigeria end up like Central African Republic (albeit on a much larger scale)? Yes, if urgent steps aren't taken.

Quote:
Makurdi — Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, Monday, afternoon escaped death by the whiskers when his convoy was ambushed by Fulani herdsmen who engaged his security aides in exchange of gunfire at Tee‑Akanyi village in Guma local government area of the state.

This was just after the rampaging invaders had sacked about 64 villages on the Daudu‑Gbajimba axis of the council, killing no fewer than 37 persons whose corpses still littered the invaded communities.

In his reaction, former PDP chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade, representing Benue North East Senatorial District alleged that those behind the invasion and killing of the people of Tiv and Idoma of Benue State were mercenaries from neighbouring African countries of Chad, Mali and Cameroon that had been contracted to destabilize the country.
http://allafrica.com/stories/201403120223.html
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