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FID & Working With Indigenous Forces Training, advising, and operating with local armed forces in Foreign Internal Defense.

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Old 12-10-2010   #1
Colin Robinson
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Default Broad thoughts on SFA for Land Forces

Dear all,
Some of you may have been aware that I've been writing a PhD on the reconstruction of armies in partner states following a peace accord. (Added link:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=10049 ).
The thesis has been completely focused on countries where an international force arrives and has to had over to a replacement partner army.

Field case was Liberia; desk cases have included
*armies formed by merger: Zimbabwe, S Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Sudan (the JIUs, not the SPLA), DR Congo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Nepal.
*armies formed by institutionalizing a rebel force: East Timor, Kosovo
*armies rebuilt from scratch: Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia

My conclusions are as follows:
*This is a thesis focused on weak states. Very hard to build strong armies in weak states. Examples abound, especially ANA.
*Non-state security forces are the dominant provider of both security and insecurity for virtually all post-peace accord states.
*If armies and state security forces are to be relevant, they must be
able to 'plug-and-play' with non-state security providers. Need to
fiddle with that wording
*On the demand side, only way to build sustainable armies is
consensus through national dialogue.
*On the supply side, a reconsideration of approach by US/British
Armies to reflect Scheye's SSD USIP paper (http://www.usip.org/publications/rea...or-development) considerations should be considered. Perhaps best way of putting this into effect is by promoting and disseminating the Brit doctrine paper (Joint Doctrine Note 07/16 Building Indigenous Armies) much more widely, which appears to reflects political considerations / on ground reality much better than US FM 3.07-1
*The elephant in the room, not actually part of the research question, is how we can build strong armies. It is not possible to build strong armies in weak states; they are intrinsically linked. Must build strong states. Herbst (2000) demonstrates that freezing the boundaries in Africa as per 1964 Cairo declaration etc makes it very hard for the only known way of building strong states, evolution through war, to take place.
*Is it morally justifiable to recommend loosening the fixed boundaries so as to build stronger states, meaning millions more will die in addition to the millions lost during the post-45 period? This is a much wider matter than armies alone, and can only be decided in a wider audience. It is beyond the scope of a PhD thesis.

Now I've had relatively little time in the field compared to many of you, and this all has a very academic slant. I would very much appreciate comments and violent disagreement... what have I got right? what have I got wrong, what have I not included that I should have?

Best regards to all

Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-10-2010 at 07:39 AM. Reason: link to Scheye USIP paper and by Mod link to previous thread
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Old 12-10-2010   #2
Bob's World
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One fault is the tendency to attempt to build "mini-me" versions of ones self.

I mean seriously, based on what analysis does Afghanistan need a large conventional army? Has not the traditional and current threat "frustrated" both the Soviet and US versions of the same? This is a country that cries out for a capability much more like the US National Guard; centrally funded and organized, but recruited, trained and employed locally under the control of commanders who answer to their governor until such time that they are federalized. Such a force can also do law enforcement duties, so reduces the need for a large national police force as well.

I get it that Karzai has no trust, and wants total control over security forces to reduce the likelihood of them turning against him; and that we bought into that thinking under the guise of "warlords are bad, so no militias because militias = warlords."

Meanwhile, even the leadership of a great general like LTG Caldwell and the huge push of resources and emphasis on turning s*** into shinola with the ANSF is not working (though with some notable bright spots, such as the Commandos and SF being developed separately by USSF that operate with great effectiveness and are becoming more and more independent in planning and leading their own operations; and some forces developed by British SOF, but those are more seen as local augments to British units, following more of a colonial model).

One also avoids the many problems associated with large standing armies in peace (how to pay, effect on neighbors, vast mobs of unemployed soldiers all at once upon de-mob, etc). The National Guard/militia model avoids this, as the men never really left their villages or jobs and stay on the books at reduced cost until they are needed again.

So, we tend to build the wrong force. We do the same with air power. Sell F-16s to a country and one ensures 20-30 years of relations as they need to keep those suckers flying, and they are cool toys for the sons of the elite to sport around in. Selling them C-130s makes more sense, and some form of low and slow prop-driven ISR/ground attack aircraft.

The other place we get off track with SFA is that too often we are quite frankly making the "Sheriff of Nottingham" much more effective at enforcing the poor governance of some very "Prince John"- like characters out there. This does not endear the US with the populaces of these countries, and it is the populaces that challenge us now, not the states themselves. We need to develop programs better tuned to bringing stability to populaces rather than security to despots.
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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; 12-10-2010 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 12-12-2010   #3
Infanteer
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I cannot see how people honestly believe that where foreign, NATO militaries will not be a solution that an ANA made up of northerners who don't speak your language will magically solve the problem. NATO, ANA, even ANP - the "mini-me" model mentioned by Bob doesn't permit/encourage/force the locals to take a share in their own security.

I just finished reading Mark Moyar's book on COIN in South Vietnam. Interesting that the most effective unit at attacking the insurgent network was the PRUs; local guys led by other local guys under the aegis of the provincial chiefs that were funded, trained and managed by the CIA. And no, they didn't "secure the populace" and "win hearts and minds", they captured/killed communist insurgents. Not going to solve your long-term problem, but it is definately a step in the right direction.
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Old 12-12-2010   #4
Ken White
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Default Yes it was...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Infanteer View Post
...Not going to solve your long-term problem, but it is definately a step in the right direction.
Until it got killed by the forerunner of political correctness, fellow traveling.

The long term problem was indeed political. Signing Treaties that do not need to be signed isn't wise...
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Old 12-12-2010   #5
Bill Moore
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Colin,

You're tackling a very important topic, but as some of the others have identified I think the way you framed the problem to be solved is a little off base. In weak states do we need to form "strong armies" or specifically tailored security forces that are appropriate for the security problems they actually have?

The example given about the PRU is an excellent example of an appropriate security force for COIN in "that" situation, but let's not forget S. Vietnam was defeated by an invasion from conventional forces, and obviously the PRU would have been relatively worthless against that type of threat. The point is we need to do a much better job of clarifying what the real versus perceived threats are and then "assist" the host nation in developing the "appropriate" capabilities, which in my view after doing this for a long time is rarely a strong army.

Quote:
My conclusions are as follows:
*This is a thesis focused on weak states. Very hard to build strong armies in weak states. Examples abound, especially ANA.
*

Begin with the end in mind, and the end must be culturally appropriate and sustainable.

Quote:
On the demand side, only way to build sustainable armies is
consensus through national dialogue.
*

Not that I disagree, but how did you come to this conclusion? I do think that any security force developed to counter internal threats must have a supporting narrative that resonates with their populace. Ultimately to be effective in promoting legitimacy (assuming that is a goal), they need to be perceived as wearing the white hat.

Quote:
*Is it morally justifiable to recommend loosening the fixed boundaries so as to build stronger states, meaning millions more will die in addition to the millions lost during the post-45 period? This is a much wider matter than armies alone, and can only be decided in a wider audience. It is beyond the scope of a PhD thesis.
Now you're addressing the real issue, one that Armies can only solve through the relative constant use of coercive force. I think this is an entirely separate (though related) issue from your thesis.

Another point to consider is it always (or ever) desirable to help host nation's develop Armies made in our image and using our doctrine? When we create these molds in our image within a culture that isn't receptive to them they are too frequently defeated in battle by those with lesser equipment (amount and level of technology) and less training. Why? I really think that is the million dollar question, how do we help develop security forces that will win? Obviously history has demonstrated that numbers, training and technology alone do not determine the outcome of a fight. There are also the intangibles concerning will, fighting spirit, etc. IMO we need to stop focusing solely on how we build, or assist host nations build, foreign security forces that look like us, and then get excited about the misleading metrics of numbers of units produced, etc. instead of effectiveness in the operational environment.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 12-12-2010 at 07:43 PM. Reason: Changed last paragraph
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Old 12-12-2010   #6
Infanteer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
The example given about the PRU is an excellent example of an appropriate security force for COIN in "that" situation, but let's not forget S. Vietnam was defeated by an invasion from conventional forces, and obviously the PRU would have been relatively worthless against that type of threat. The point is we need to do a much better job of clarifying what the real versus perceived threats are and then "assist" the host nation in developing the "appropriate" capabilities, which in my view after doing this for a long time is rarely a strong army.
Absolutely. The Republic of South Vietnam's problem was that it faced two threats - an internal insurgency and the threat of invasion from North Vietnam. The PRU along with some other, largely civilian, agencies were by far the most effective organizations for neutralizing (which they largely did) the former threat.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Army put the ARVN on the back-burner and wasted a lot of political capital duking it out in the hinterlands of South Vietnam so that when the latter threat actually appeared (for a 3rd time) in 1975 there was nothing left in the "support Saigon" bank account and the ARVN, who had wasted away "pacifying" villages, were in no shape to stand up against the 22 divisions of the NVA. So, as you said, it was a problem with correctly identifying and categorizing threats.

Bob has, in my opinion, done a good job of this in his post. I don't see what conceivable threat to Afghanistan requires a very large, western-funded and trained conventional Army. That is a defence against an invasion force, and the only people dumb enough to invade and occupy the country seems to be us Westerners.
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Old 12-12-2010   #7
Old Eagle
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Default Outsiders

That's how it looks to many. However, that's not how it looks to the Afghans. Especially to the organization formerly known as the Northern Alliance. They will tell you flat out that Pakistan poses an overt military threat in addition to their safe haven role. NA guys quote reports of Paks manning Taliban tanks and flying T'ban airplanes during the conventional attacks on Kabul in the mid-90s.

In fact, for many of our interlocuters, ratbastardpakistani was a compound word.
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Old 12-13-2010   #8
Firn
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I think we already touched this before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
One fault is the tendency to attempt to build "mini-me" versions of ones self.
And this does not only goes for the military, but for the political vision of the (Afghan) state as well...

Of course hindsight is 20/20.
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Old 12-13-2010   #9
Bob's World
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Default The "Northern Alliance" is not Afghanistan...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
That's how it looks to many. However, that's not how it looks to the Afghans. Especially to the organization formerly known as the Northern Alliance. They will tell you flat out that Pakistan poses an overt military threat in addition to their safe haven role. NA guys quote reports of Paks manning Taliban tanks and flying T'ban airplanes during the conventional attacks on Kabul in the mid-90s.

In fact, for many of our interlocuters, ratbastardpakistani was a compound word.
Old Eagle, you are correct though. The Northern Alliance is who we enabled to prevail in their long struggle against Pashtun domination in Afghanistan, and they will do everything in their power to NOT go back to the way things were. Pakistan is not so much a threat to Afghanistan, but a threat to the Northern Alliance keeping the Pashtun's in a box.

News flash: "Pashtuns in a box" is perhaps the least viable of all the "in a box" concepts we have wheeled out in Afghanistan.

The real question is how do we move forward. The historic inertia of Afghanistan is one of winner take all, controlled through patronage systems that do not allow the defeated party to gain an upper hand. IMO we only enable this problem by our blind support of Northern Alliance biases and agendas, even if they are the current official government of the land.

This is why I push for more of an empowerment approach, that is more neutral and brings the parties together. But as I say, there is no precedent for this in this culture, and therefore no trust. How does one overcome the absence of trust? With good rules and a strong power to enforce those rules. The Good Rules are in a new Constitution for Afghanistan that shapes parameters that protect the rights of these various interest groups, of individuals, and also contains government in ways that prevent the government from becoming the tool of any one of those with an agenda that is counter to the good of the whole. The strong power to enforce is within the international community.

Currently we use that strong power to enforce Bad Rules in the current Afghan Constitution that are designed to sustain all power in the Northern Alliance. This is a position that assures continuous insurgency, because if ever there were a people who would never submit to being placed in a box, it is the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Cheers,

Bob
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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 12-13-2010   #10
Colin Robinson
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Default Thanks for all your comments

Dear all,
Thanks for all your helpful comments.

I probably should have elaborated my conclusions at greater length. I will do so, which will respond to a number of the points that have been raised, and then start responding individually to the rest.

Bob's World's point on 'mini-me' armies is actually bound up with my statement that 'on the demand side, only way to build sustainable armies is
consensus through national dialogue.'
The only way that new armies in these countries can be sustained is if they're 'locally owned,' to use security sector reform jargon. ARVN in South Vietnam, built up as a replica of the ROKA to deter threats across the DMZ, was definitely not locally owned. Meanwhile, apparently the Ethiopians did significant reforms all by themselves and this created an army which the political class were happy to find resources for, thus be sustainable.
Pardon me as I repeat stuff many of you know, but I'm just trying to illustrate my argument.
The SANDF after 1994 is the security sector reform poster child of a locally owned army; I understand from contacts that despite all the doom and gloom we hear about the SA Army now, the core of the deploying infantry for PKOs in Africa is pretty good quality.

So yes, not a highly technical US-type army. Local militias, reserve forces only, maybe a small central force; not a 'mini-me.' In Sierra Leone and East Timor, both times, a reserve force has been considered but has been dropped. In Timor and in Kosovo, ideas have been floated for armies that do national development tasks as a primary role. This is because if, politically, we cannot disband the army, we need to give it something worthwhile to do, and avoid the common problem of lacking a role.

Infanteer's point on the PRUs is an extremely good example of a 'locally owned army' that I would be advocating. Maybe the CIDGs would be also.

Bill Moore's point is also good. Maybe, a la Haiti, we do not need an army at all. My full theoretical model goes through an assessment and programme design phase where the actual requirements are identified.

'culturally appropriate and sustainable' = locally owned, in SSR parlance. This is what I was aiming at.

I came to the conclusion re consensus through national dialogue though talking to a very experienced South African ex-infanteer, which reflected some of the stuff in the OECD Handbook on SSR. It's what they tried to do in S Africa after the mid 1990s. It's been tried in Liberia but too late to influence the contractor programme, and was first done ahead of decisions in Kosovo.

"Why? I really think that is the million dollar question, how do we help develop security forces that will win?"
This is what I mean by 'strong armies.' History's answer via Tilly and Jeffrey Herbst is let state boundaries move - darwinist evolution of states.
For the SFA community now, if I may be bold enough to say so, we cannot in virtually any circumstances, expect to build armies that can win when we import Western models.

This is a bit of a long post, and I must go. I will respond to the rest a little later. Thank you all very much for your comments - they are much appreciated.

Kind regards from New Zealand,
Colin
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