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Old 02-05-2010   #81
Bob's World
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Default Insurgency within an insurgency

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Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
Niel:

At least with the slide I could understand your implied point to it.

But the implied point is the problem since it is fundamentally a slide that depicts the premise to population centric counterinsurgency and the usual critique of how the American Army doesnt get coin because we dont get the political aspect of it and only want to do tactics whereas the insurgent does and focusses on politics. Mao, Galula as opposite sides to the people's war construct would accept you slide and its implications. But why do you think it is relevant for today? Does the triangle for the insurgent fit the local villagers in the Korengal Valley?

Too, the implication to your slide for the "correct" action on the part of the American counterinsurgent is to invert our triangle so that the majority of our focus is on the political like the insurgents. But the flaw with this approach just like it is with the American Army's current flaw in how we have templated Galula and Thompson which is to treat counterinsurgency as a symetrical response to a perceived people's war. This is why I have argued that CE Callwell's book still has relevance and insights for today in that he saw small wars as essentially wars to create moral effects among local populations and leaders but saw the use of military force not in symmetrical but asymmetrical sense.

some thoughts from the other side, thanks for posting your slide.
As I was reviewing some Reconciliation and Reintegration (why can we not just say "forgive and forget"?) documents, it struck me that we really have is an insurgency within an insurgency here in Afghanistan. This may address your question to Niel as to the applicability of this slide.

The slide speaks fairly well to a Revolutionary Insurgency ( I break insurgency into three broad categories: Revolutionary -change the government; Resistance - remove an externally installed government; and Separatist- break of some segment of the country and form a new government) such as the Taliban leadership are waging in Afghanistan. This is the parent insurgency and the driving force that must be addressed to win in Afghanistan, and it is addressed far more effectively through political engagement that addresses major issues such as the widely perceived illegitimacy of the Karzai government through inherently legitimate political processes such as the Loya Jirga; than by any costly massive application of population-centric COIN tactics can hope to achieve.

Within this insurgency is the Resistance insurgency. This is the rank and file Afghan, who fights primarily because the coalition is here. He also fights because we are here and because he gets paid an honest day's wage as well to fight us. The model does not speak well to the 90% of the insurgency that is in your face, but it does not have to. This aspect of the insurgency is cured by simply sending the Coalition home.

The 10% of the insurgency that must be addressed to win is the revolutionary insurgency, and as I said, I believe Niel's model hits that fairly well.

Just an insight honed while red penciling a "forgive and forget" policy letter...
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Old 02-05-2010   #82
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
...( I break insurgency into three broad categories: Revolutionary -change the government; Resistance - remove an externally installed government; and Separatist- break of some segment of the country and form a new government)...
Bob, is this typology written up anywhere?
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Old 02-05-2010   #83
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Hi Miles,

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Originally Posted by Oredigger61 View Post
I was not adverse to throwing in a few Milton references to my introductory hour.
Tempting, VERY tempting ! Actually, I probably will work in some Milton, especially since the archetype of the Doomed Prince is quite widespread.

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Originally Posted by Oredigger61 View Post
Another approach with the advanced class is to bring in the American Revolution. There was an ABC special called "Suddenly An Eagle" starring Lee J. Cobb that was a great teaching vehicle for the processes of revolution and counter-revolution. It came out in the bicentennial era; don't know if it is at all available.
I'll see if I can track down a copy of it. The American Revolution might be a good focus for the advanced class, but I am somewhat concerned about the lack of knowledge most of my students will likely have about it - we don't teach that much American history up here anymore in high school, so I can't count on any basic knowledge (outside of Mel Gibson's Patriot ).

One case I do want to look at in the advanced course, and probably touch on in the 2nd year one, is the two Riel Rebellions. I'm in discussions right now with a colleague on looking at Canadian policy towards our First Nations and Metis through a COIN lens, and that will give me a chance to workshop some of our ideas.

Some of the other ones I'm considering are:
  • the 16th century bce nationalist revolt in Egypt (Kahmose and Ahmose)
  • Sertorius
  • Zenobia of Palmyra and the Barracks Emperors period
  • The Maccabean Revolt,
  • Wat Tyler
  • The German Bauernkrieg
Right now, it's still pretty much up in the air, though.

Cheers,

Marc
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Old 02-06-2010   #84
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Originally Posted by Firn View Post
I think when discussing this issues it is important to keep in mind what the specific actors wanted and why they used violence to reach their goals. I will try to keep it short and rough. It is of course my very personal opinion.

a) The founders and most prominent members of the Taliban claimed that they want to create a religious model state, out of the shattered reality of Afghanistan (and other regions as well). To reach this idealistic goal in a war-torn and violent Afghanistan violence was a considered to be a necessity.

b) The USA wanted to revenge 09/11 and to punish those who supported an ideology which claimed to revenge the misdeeds of the West and especially the USA against the Islamic world. To do so in a foreign country a good deal of violence was needed.

After the rapid sweep across Afghanistan for many in the USA 9/11 had been revenged to a large extent. The Taliban lost on the other hand their hold over a land they considered theirs. The existence as an organisation and as individuals was greatly threatened. But many won that struggle for survival, could regroup and had a very clear aim nearby to fulfill their political ambitions.


If we consider this very simple construct it makes pretty much sense that the former have a far greater focus on the political aspect as the latter. The Taliban fight for a clear political goal in a region which they consider to be their homeland. The USA (and many other countries) increasingly tried to give the impression of doing some good in a far-away land. For most Americans and Europeans it quickly became a forgotten war, supported by meager ressources.

Firn
The US entered Afganistan with a reasonably clear objective (remove AQ and the Taliban from power, kill or capture as many of their leaders as possible) and promptly transitioned to a very nebulous objective (transforming Afghanistan into... well, something, I for one have never been sure what). In the process, not surprisingly, we lost a good deal of clarity and focus, a natural consequence of pursuing objectives that are uncertain and possibly unachievable.

There are certainly many valid lessons to be learned from the Cold War-era insurgencies, but the insurgency-as-revolution paradigm that emerged from that era is by no means universally applicable to current circumstances, and it has to be applied with discretion.
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Old 02-09-2010   #85
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Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
All,

Attached is a slide I use during my presentations that usually engenders quite a bit of discussion (which Is why I use it - to stir the pot).
Going back to the OP, here is a link to a construct I developed over 30 years ago.

http://mallardblue.web.officelive.co...evolution.aspx

This links to the narrative, the embedded link at the top of the narrative leads to the construct in graphic form.

I also found the "Supplemental Reading" Syllabus for the course titled "Political Warfare Studies." That is what the Navy's Counterinsurgency (COIN) Orientation Course morphed to be over the six-year period 1974-1980.

Here is the reading list.
1. "Essay on Revolution" from the Syntopicon, Great Books of the Western World
2. "Politics Book V" Aristotle
3. "Of the Dissolution of Government" Locke
4. "Of These Things That Weaken or Tend to the Dissolution of a Commonwealth" Hobbes
5. "The Theory and Practice of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency" Bernard Fall
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Old 02-10-2010   #86
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
As I was reviewing some Reconciliation and Reintegration (why can we not just say "forgive and forget"?) documents, it struck me that we really have is an insurgency within an insurgency here in Afghanistan. This may address your question to Niel as to the applicability of this slide.

The slide speaks fairly well to a Revolutionary Insurgency ( I break insurgency into three broad categories: Revolutionary -change the government; Resistance - remove an externally installed government; and Separatist- break of some segment of the country and form a new government) such as the Taliban leadership are waging in Afghanistan. This is the parent insurgency and the driving force that must be addressed to win in Afghanistan, and it is addressed far more effectively through political engagement that addresses major issues such as the widely perceived illegitimacy of the Karzai government through inherently legitimate political processes such as the Loya Jirga; than by any costly massive application of population-centric COIN tactics can hope to achieve.

Within this insurgency is the Resistance insurgency. This is the rank and file Afghan, who fights primarily because the coalition is here. He also fights because we are here and because he gets paid an honest day's wage as well to fight us. The model does not speak well to the 90% of the insurgency that is in your face, but it does not have to. This aspect of the insurgency is cured by simply sending the Coalition home.

The 10% of the insurgency that must be addressed to win is the revolutionary insurgency, and as I said, I believe Niel's model hits that fairly well.

Just an insight honed while red penciling a "forgive and forget" policy letter...
I enjoyed this post and share some feelings with you, which I echoed before. Just wanted to add that this revolutionary-resistance dynamic is often an intrinsic feature of many small wars. It is in fact even present in states and western military forces, were the primary object of many is not a lofty and distant politcal goal.

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Old 02-10-2010   #87
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Default Victory lies in the understanding of the nuance and subtlety of war

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Originally Posted by Firn View Post
I enjoyed this post and share some feelings with you, which I echoed before. Just wanted to add that this revolutionary-resistance dynamic is often an intrinsic feature of many small wars. It is in fact even present in states and western military forces, were the primary object of many is not a lofty and distant politcal goal.

Firn
Look how calming of an effect our clearly expressed intent to leave Iraq and focus on Afghanistan has had on the broad, resistance base of that insurgency?

Herein lies one irony of our COIN efforts. I often here senior leaders talking to the importance of how we must impress upon the populace that we will not leave them...; when in theory, some 90% of the insurgency is motivated simply by the fact that we are here.

This is why Strategic Comms are so important as well. The peaceful segment of the society needs to be assured that they will not be abandoned to the insurgency; while the rank and file insurgent segment of the society needs to be assured that you have no intent to stay; mean while the head of the insurgency is running a revolution and delighting in your quandary as you lend your support to a government widely viewed as illegitimate.

Break this down:

Step one: Address the perceptions of legitimacy to crush the head of the snake.

Step two: Assure the largely peaceful segment of the society that you are committed to assisting the freshly legitimized (by the populace, not you) government gets their feet underneath them; while

Step three: Assuring the rank and file resistance fighter segment of the populace that the insurgent leadership is lying about your intentions, and in fact you are indeed leaving them, and leaving them with a government whose legitimacy they recognize.

All of this must of course be communicated in word and deed throughout the engagement.

But first you must address step one, and for some reason, that is the step no one ever wants to take.
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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 02-10-2010   #88
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Question

It is certainly no easy task, because as somebody said in war the easy things become difficult.

Reflecting the campaign in Afghanistan I wonder if we did not make a classic mistake by having too little resources and manpower to shoulder the burden of a lofty and very ambitious strategy born after a stunning victory and yet enough presence and loud claims to give the enemy an excellent military and propaganda target which fitted rather neatly into their strategy.

All in all we were on a golden middle path leading into big trouble.


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Old 02-17-2010   #89
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Bob, is this typology written up anywhere?
Bob, did you see my earlier question up thread?
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Old 02-18-2010   #90
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Sorry, yes. I've worked through it a few times in various threads here on the topic. Have also incorporated into at least one paper.

In a nutshell, many efforts at describing insurgency seem overly complicated. I am reminded of a painful experience in College when I took integration calculus for the first time. I was completely overwhelmed by the incredible complexity, and every problem was a blur of complex equations or situations to be converted to complex equations. I didn't know where to start, and I didn't have a firm grip on what I was trying to accomplish, and I didn't have a firm grasp of the reduction formulas and high end algebra and geometry required.

The following term I was sitting in the library with my nemesis the calculus book, when suddenly it dawned on me that for all of the surface complexity, there were really just three types of problems, and step one was to identify which type of problem you were trying to solve. Then as I mastered the reduction formulae and my algebra and geometry skills, it all became quite simple and I ended up earning the highest score in the class.

I think that insurgency is much like this. The complexity in front of one's face is overwhelming; and many sent in to deal with an insurgency also lack proficiency in the basic skills required for such operations

So I set out to see if there were logical "types" of insurgency. As I looked at it there were three. Others have come up with larger numbers, but I think those can be reduced down to the three that I use.

1. Revolutionary: When an element of the populace seeks to overthrow/change the current government through illegal means

2. Resistance: When an element of the populace seeks to throw out an external force that has either forced itself upon them, or come in invited and overstayed its welcome.

3. Separatist: When some segment of the populace seeks to break some portion of the state off from the parent and form a new state.

These may occur in combinations. For example, in Afghanistan, I see the Senior leader Taliban insurgency as a revolutionary movement that is rooted primarily in the perceived illegitimacy of the Karzai government and the lack of trusted and certain processes for the populace to effect legal change of that government (Causation); supported by the AQ UW operations; and employing a fundamental Islamist ideology (motivation). This is the aspect of the insurgency that must be resolved in order to bring peace to the country.

Beneath and within this is the much larger rank and file resistance insurgency of average Afghans, who care little about governance, but who care deeply about the presence of foreign invaders in their homes. They also feel deeply about the duty to safeguard their homes and families, and to have the pride that comes with earning a day's wage for a day's work. They are also Sunni Muslim, so the Islamist message speaks to them. They fight because the coalition is here and because they are paid to do so. This is good, honorable, Pashtun work. Far preferable to simply living on the coalition dole.

Solve the revolutionary "parent" insurgency, and then we can take actions in conjunction with the newly legitimized government of Afghanistan to reduce troop levels; stop the pay and motivation to resist, and all get back to our normal lives. The resistance insurgency largely fades away simply because we fade away, and be cause or narrative becomes more believable with a government perceived as legitimate in the eyes of the populace in office.


Until then, we are largely protecting and feeding a massive Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud. Fix that first. Small, local ponzi schemes are very afghan; the big national one fed by coalition "investors" is not. It lifts the money up and out of the country, instead of distributing it back among the people at the local, district, and provincial levels.
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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)

Last edited by Bob's World; 02-18-2010 at 05:15 AM.
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Old 02-18-2010   #91
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Default Historical perspective, continued

Bob, thank you for the detailed response. I sensed it was something along those lines. My reason for asking is that you appear to be plowing ground that I plowed during the period 1974-1980 while course manager for the Navy’s COIN course.

By 1974, the COIN instruction was a residual effort consisting of two classes. First, we taught a two-week seminar about 12 or so times a year. The target audience was the Navy Special Warfare Community and Marine equivalent. However, Army (and some Air Force) reserves flocked to our course because it gave them an ACDUTRA opportunity that was educational. Many of the Army officers were from Reserve Civil Affairs units, so we had a wide variety of knowledgeable folks who passed through our doors. We picked their brains on the way through.

Second, we taught a unit-specific weekend course as part of the Naval Reserve training structure.

Shortly before I arrived on station the staff had flown in Roger Darling for a presentation and video taping session. We then “taught” Darling with little idea of what he was really saying.

One day a student, Tom Grassey, wandered into my office and said we had no clue, we had no one’s attention, and we had no credibility. At the end of his two-week stay we basically said to Tom that if you know so much go out and research the subject and come back and inform us.

A few months later he did just that. One of his points was that we needed to put aside the word “insurgency” and call it what it was, revolution. That opened things up for us. We had been stuck with the terminology of the 1960’s—Left, Mass and Right Strategy. Grassey also pointed us to the construct of “unjust treatment,” which he took from Aristotle.

That led us to David V. J. Bell and his treatment of resistance and revolution. I commend his book to you.

We taped Tom and he published his findings in the Naval War College Review under the title, “Some Perspectives on Revolution.” At the same time, Roger Darling was re-titling his “Military Review” article to be “Revolution Examined Anew.” We gradually renamed our course; it ultimately became a “Political Warfare Seminar," and added the American Revolution as a case study.

We synthesized Darling and Grassey into a unified scheme for qualitative analysis, and added Bell to speak to the distribution of justice component.

Up thread I have a link to a key chart I derived which, at the time, was our understanding of the spectrum of revolutionary conflict and violence. The predicate was that any government has two fundamental tasks, the dispensation of justice (Aristotle, Bell) and the management of violence. The revolutionary goal was to get the government to focus on the latter task.

I have seen little in the intervening 30 years since I last taught the subject that substantially changes what we wrote and taught at Coronado at the close of the Vietnam War.
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Old 02-18-2010   #92
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Default Sounds like I have a little resarch and reading to do.

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Originally Posted by Oredigger61 View Post
Bob, thank you for the detailed response. I sensed it was something along those lines. My reason for asking is that you appear to be plowing ground that I plowed during the period 1974-1980 while course manager for the Navy’s COIN course.

By 1974, the COIN instruction was a residual effort consisting of two classes. First, we taught a two-week seminar about 12 or so times a year. The target audience was the Navy Special Warfare Community and Marine equivalent. However, Army (and some Air Force) reserves flocked to our course because it gave them an ACDUTRA opportunity that was educational. Many of the Army officers were from Reserve Civil Affairs units, so we had a wide variety of knowledgeable folks who passed through our doors. We picked their brains on the way through.

Second, we taught a unit-specific weekend course as part of the Naval Reserve training structure.

Shortly before I arrived on station the staff had flown in Roger Darling for a presentation and video taping session. We then “taught” Darling with little idea of what he was really saying.

One day a student, Tom Grassey, wandered into my office and said we had no clue, we had no one’s attention, and we had no credibility. At the end of his two-week stay we basically said to Tom that if you know so much go out and research the subject and come back and inform us.

A few months later he did just that. One of his points was that we needed to put aside the word “insurgency” and call it what it was, revolution. That opened things up for us. We had been stuck with the terminology of the 1960’s—Left, Mass and Right Strategy. Grassey also pointed us to the construct of “unjust treatment,” which he took from Aristotle.

That led us to David V. J. Bell and his treatment of resistance and revolution. I commend his book to you.

We taped Tom and he published his findings in the Naval War College Review under the title, “Some Perspectives on Revolution.” At the same time, Roger Darling was re-titling his “Military Review” article to be “Revolution Examined Anew.” We gradually renamed our course; it ultimately became a “Political Warfare Seminar," and added the American Revolution as a case study.

We synthesized Darling and Grassey into a unified scheme for qualitative analysis, and added Bell to speak to the distribution of justice component.

Up thread I have a link to a key chart I derived which, at the time, was our understanding of the spectrum of revolutionary conflict and violence. The predicate was that any government has two fundamental tasks, the dispensation of justice (Aristotle, Bell) and the management of violence. The revolutionary goal was to get the government to focus on the latter task.

I have seen little in the intervening 30 years since I last taught the subject that substantially changes what we wrote and taught at Coronado at the close of the Vietnam War.
You're right, we are definitely coming at this from similar perspectives. I look forward to finding some of those old pieces and working through them.
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