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Old 01-10-2013   #1
davidbfpo
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Default The evolution of modern COIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, a state can discriminate between combatants and non-combatants while killing insurgents, but only by increasing the risks for its own troops, as the United States and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have recently begun to do in Afghanistan. As in international economics, where states actually make a trade-off among its economic goals, the argument here highlights that, in counterinsurgency, it is almost impossible to reach all three objectives within a feasible time frame. So a country must choose two out of three goals and develop a strategy that can successfully accomplish them, while putting the third objective on the back burner.
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Old 01-10-2013   #2
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I don't see how one could avoid losses ("Force Protection") and eliminate the enemy in a conventional battle either. So COIN would be -judged by his article- an easier mode of warfare. A trilemma instead of a dilemma as 'usual'.
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Old 01-13-2013   #3
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Default Strategic Realities in Irregular Conflict

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

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