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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 07-21-2012   #21
JMA
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Induced by size and traditions but most attributable to our political system and thus is unlikely to change. Many of the "cockups" you more or less correctly note are directly attributable to that feature. It should be considered by all 'strategists' and planners, particularly those in the US but it too seldom is. To ask that fact and feature be considered by observers is probably a step too far...

The foreign policy implications of Chine, Russia, Syria and Libya (as well as US aid in the search for Kony and the LRA...) that you surface are all examples of the fact that US domestic politics take primacy for a number of reasons, some bad, some good. Short termism r us... It is not however it is short term (that "attention span...") adequate. The British and most of the Commonwealth as well as the Germans always strove for 'good'[ or excellence For the US, adequate has always been sufficient. So far...
Ken, you know this limitation but how many of the currently serving US soldiers do? If they do - and accept it - then they can figure out a work around for the inherent weakness.

A good first step would be to refuse to train locals under the current system because:

* it is a given that at some point (determined by the vermin in DC) they will be abandoned to their fate, and/or

* there is no telling how long it will be before they change sides taking with them the supplied weapons and their new skills.
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Old 07-21-2012   #22
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Other relevant threads in my opinion are:

Within this thread is a must read on Levies, the name used for such units in the British Empire, Small Wars pre-1914: Canadian input:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=13854

JMA has referred to the Germa campaign in East Africa, often linked to their general Von Lettow Vorbeck; this is a short thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=651

Staying with WW1 there is 'TE Lawrence: a merged thread':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=5330

The 'small war' in Oman has a thread 'Oman campaign: catch all' where the British and others followed this approach is on:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=11106

'South Africa's COIN war in SWA/Namibia/Angola' as it includes the South African experience with ex-FNLA fighters forming 32 Buffalo Battalion and the police unit Koevoet: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=10859

Not to overlook the political aspect, which is covered in 'The Role of the British Political Officer on the North West Frontier':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7518

I am sure Steve Blair and others will know of the American historical experience.
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Old 07-22-2012   #23
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Ken, you know this limitation but how many of the currently serving US soldiers do? If they do - and accept it - then they can figure out a work around for the inherent weakness.
My impression is that many know but feel powerless to effect change (the belief in civilian control is carried to a fault on some occasions), many know and take advantage of it for personal or parochial reasons (it can provide advantages to those willing to use the system for less than beneficial to the nation reasons) and too many sort of know but fail to consider it in planning.

Hope is not a plan...
Quote:
A good first step would be to refuse to train locals under the current system because:

* it is a given that at some point (determined by the vermin in DC) they will be abandoned to their fate, and/or

* there is no telling how long it will be before they change sides taking with them the supplied weapons and their new skills.
Your two points are accurate however, the last is defeated by the short termism; "Let's fix the problem now and let others worry about that later..." The first suffers from the same syndrome plus the venality of most politicians.. Or is that verminicity?

Regrettably, refusal is unlikely due to the strong tradition of civilian control. The really smart Flag Officers will stall and prevent a lot of harm but are confronted with others, usually unduly ambitious, who want to pleas the Pols. Our foray into Kosovo and the saga of competing Generals on the employment of Apaches is an example. In that case the smart guy won -- doesn't always work out that way. Viet Nam is an example of that...
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Old 07-22-2012   #24
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The Filipinos come more close, but at least the WW2-period Filipino troops were motivated by a promise of independence and thus again fighting for their people, not really for the Americans AFAIK.
True of the WW2 period, but well before independence was promised the US was training Filipino units and deploying them for internal security functions, just as most imperial powers did.

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What's remarkable in the case of U.S. troops is that they don't form U.S.Army units with 80-90% foreigners from the region. It's really not that hard, as evidenced by the ease of how European powers did this during Imperialism times. See the German Askaris; German officers surely had no experience in creating such a force, yet built a formidable one in East Africa with IIRC initially Sudanese warriors.

Just imagine; rotation would be limited to about 20% of the total force, deployed U.S. personnel could be cut by two thirds and the actual force available in-theatre would still be larger and have enough boots on the ground to dominate most of the places that are now effectively without Western control.
What you're missing here is that the whole idea of recruiting locals directly into the armed forces of a foreign power is only possible is the foreign power rules the area. You can't do it if there's an even nominally sovereign local government in the picture. The US could and did form such units in its colony in the Philippines. It couldn't and didn't and hasn't in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan because these are not direct imperial ventures where the US is setting up to rule, they are nominally sovereign states with their own governments and armed forces.

Either you're a colonial power, in which case you can and will take direct control of indigenous armed forces, or you're not, in which case you can't and won't. Can't have it both ways.
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Old 07-22-2012   #25
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What you're missing here is that the whole idea of recruiting locals directly into the armed forces of a foreign power is only possible is the foreign power rules the area. You can't do it if there's an even nominally sovereign local government in the picture. The US could and did form such units in its colony in the Philippines. It couldn't and didn't and hasn't in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan because these are not direct imperial ventures where the US is setting up to rule, they are nominally sovereign states with their own governments and armed forces.

Either you're a colonial power, in which case you can and will take direct control of indigenous armed forces, or you're not, in which case you can't and won't. Can't have it both ways.
Exactly, that is why trying to compare the U.S. foreign capacity building to European foreign conscripts lead by Europeans is futile exercise. If we integrated foreign troops into our logistic, C2, medical, fires and intelligence systems and led them with U.S. officers and senior NCOs we could rapidly employ relatively effective forces that were largely composed of foreign troops. However, in a FID scenario that just isn't possible.

Other comments were not accurate either. Our political patience is rarely the problem. It doesn't take 10 plus years to develop a relatively effective fighting force. It may or may not take 10 plus years to stomp out an insurgency, but that is a different issue.

Where I think we go wrong (and this is just a start):

- We try to develop forces that mirror the U.S. force structure and tell them to employ our doctrine. It is generally too sosphisticated for most in developing nations to replicate, culturally inappropriate, and fiscally unsustainable.

- Department of State has responsibility for security assistance and frankly they don't know what they're doing. They have a long track record of throwing millions of dollars at these challenges with little understanding of what is actually required. The worst part is they do not develop a logistics system for the supported nation that is sustainable (if they develop one at all). If Americans had a better appreciation of how much Dept of State spent on these efforts and what little they have to show for it, I suspect more authorities would shift back to the military. State should own policy and have a veto vote, but once a decision is made to execute they need to enable and stop impeding.

- If it is a security assistance Mobile Training Team U.S. forces do not have the authority to combat advise, only to train and equip. Without mentoring them in combat it is very difficult for those trained to transition from the classroom and range to the battlefield. Mentors in the field instill confidence and can make on the spot corrections and identify shortfalls in training that need to be addressed. As that military matures over time these lessons are incorporated in their doctrine (not U.S. doctrine with their country's name stamped over it) and taught in their schools.

- Not surprisingly, when forces that are actually trained to build partner security forces like U.S. Special Forces have the resources and authorities to do so like they did in Iraq and Afghanistan they developed some very capable partner Special Forces units. Much better than the sepoys and numerous other forces developed by the Europeans during the colonial years. The point is the U.S. can do this if we have the right people in charge it enabled with the right authorities and resources. We have a proven track record. We have a dysfunctional bureaucracy and disparate authorities that make effective execution difficult at best, impossible at worst.
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Old 07-22-2012   #26
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Where I think we go wrong (and this is just a start):
I would add that we're inclined to assume that the nominal partner government and its security forces share our goals and objectives and our ideas on how those goals and objectives are best achieved, an assumption that is not always valid... to put it mildly.
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Old 07-22-2012   #27
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What you're missing here is that the whole idea of recruiting locals directly into the armed forces of a foreign power is only possible is the foreign power rules the area. You can't do it if there's an even nominally sovereign local government in the picture.
I disagree. Most governments easily tolerate when their citizens/subjects become mercenaries for another power. Austria is one of the very few exceptions AFAIK.

Furthermore, I mentioned the possibility to integrate the foreign troops, promote some, disband the too technicized parts of the TO&E and then allow the foreign culture troops to take over the entire force. In the end, the host nation would inherit a competent brigade.
The only reason to oppose this that I see is that the host nation's corrupt elite would expect difficulties regarding the extraction of money or power from this force. Aside from that the mixed force should be no less tolerable than a 100% alien force.
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Old 07-22-2012   #28
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I disagree. Most governments easily tolerate when their citizens/subjects become mercenaries for another power. Austria is one of the very few exceptions AFAIK.
As long as they go somewhere else to do their fighting.

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Furthermore, I mentioned the possibility to integrate the foreign troops, promote some, disband the too technicized parts of the TO&E and then allow the foreign culture troops to take over the entire force. In the end, the host nation would inherit a competent brigade.

The only reason to oppose this that I see is that the host nation's corrupt elite would expect difficulties regarding the extraction of money or power from this force. Aside from that the mixed force should be no less tolerable than a 100% alien force.
A government that allowed its own citizens to enlist in the armed forces of a foreign occupying power - even if it calls itself a foreign assisting power - for domestic service would lose even the most tattered facade of sovereignty or legitimacy. It would no longer be able to even pretend to be a government.

The idea that the US could recruit, say, Afghan units into the US military to serve in Afghanistan is perhaps an interesting speculation, but hardly relevant to any real-world situation.
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Old 07-22-2012   #29
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A government that allowed its own citizens to enlist in the armed forces of a foreign occupying power - even if it calls itself a foreign assisting power - for domestic service would lose even the most tattered facade of sovereignty or legitimacy. It would no longer be able to even pretend to be a government.
Well, hardly more so than a puppet government that allows an occupying force to act as police, to shoot at everyone who closes in with their checkpoints, to bomb obscure vehicles from the air, to hire local militias of young gunmen, to employ foreign mercenaries who behave utterly disrespectful and value the countries' civilian's lives very lowly and which grants legal immunity to said foreigners.

So where exactly is my pet approach worse in regard to puppet government legitimacy than the generally practised one?
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Old 07-22-2012   #30
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Well, hardly more so than a puppet government that allows an occupying force to act as police, to shoot at everyone who closes in with their checkpoints, to bomb obscure vehicles from the air, to hire local militias of young gunmen, to employ foreign mercenaries who behave utterly disrespectful and value the countries' civilian's lives very lowly and which grants legal immunity to said foreigners.

So where exactly is my pet approach worse in regard to puppet government legitimacy than the generally practised one?
With all respect you are allowing yourself to be needlessly distracted.

There are many permutations on how this sepoy/askari system could be put in place and developed. It needs an open mind ... in fact a military mind that has studied the employment of such forces under different (governmental) circumstances and varying cultural milieux.
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Old 07-22-2012   #31
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Our political patience is rarely the problem.
I suggest it is, especially when it changes mid stream (as it is apt to happens with politicians) and the military have to rapidly rejig the process. That's when the compromises on quality start.

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It doesn't take 10 plus years to develop a relatively effective fighting force. It may or may not take 10 plus years to stomp out an insurgency, but that is a different issue.
That depends on the quality of your enemy in that instance. If you are drawing your manpower from the same pool as the enemy then it all will come down to their training and leadership. This is what your command cadre will have to deal with when they take the unit operational.

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Where I think we go wrong (and this is just a start):

- We try to develop forces that mirror the U.S. force structure and tell them to employ our doctrine. It is generally too sosphisticated for most in developing nations to replicate, culturally inappropriate, and fiscally unsustainable.
That's a problem with who gets to be put in charge of this training and these units. If they come from a rigidly structured environment they will probably not have the faintest idea how to go about it and will resort to what they know.

To be honest the US doctrine is too sophisticated for the US military to adopt across the whole military itself.

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- Department of State has responsibility for security assistance and frankly they don't know what they're doing. They have a long track record of throwing millions of dollars at these challenges with little understanding of what is actually required. The worst part is they do not develop a logistics system for the supported nation that is sustainable (if they develop one at all). If Americans had a better appreciation of how much Dept of State spent on these efforts and what little they have to show for it, I suspect more authorities would shift back to the military. State should own policy and have a veto vote, but once a decision is made to execute they need to enable and stop impeding.
You know, I know that State is dysfunctional and for the most part incompetent. Is that going to change anytime soon?

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- If it is a security assistance Mobile Training Team U.S. forces do not have the authority to combat advise, only to train and equip. Without mentoring them in combat it is very difficult for those trained to transition from the classroom and range to the battlefield. Mentors in the field instill confidence and can make on the spot corrections and identify shortfalls in training that need to be addressed. As that military matures over time these lessons are incorporated in their doctrine (not U.S. doctrine with their country's name stamped over it) and taught in their schools.
Who would these mentors be? I suggest that if they were have to be drawn from your most combat experienced soldiers with the proviso that they have the aptitude and emotional disposition to do this sort of work.

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- Not surprisingly, when forces that are actually trained to build partner security forces like U.S. Special Forces have the resources and authorities to do so like they did in Iraq and Afghanistan they developed some very capable partner Special Forces units. Much better than the sepoys and numerous other forces developed by the Europeans during the colonial years. The point is the U.S. can do this if we have the right people in charge it enabled with the right authorities and resources. We have a proven track record. We have a dysfunctional bureaucracy and disparate authorities that make effective execution difficult at best, impossible at worst.
Special forces don't only have to train special forces. A special forces training team can and should be able to train anything from a village militia to a HVT hit squad. I know they seem to only want to do the sexy stuff but that is where military discipline comes in.

The problem is that there is a squeeze from both ends... from the politicians on one side and from the grunt level on the other who have all the answers... and it seems those in the middle don't have the balls to push back.

See an example from the current Australian infantry problems.
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Old 07-22-2012   #32
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The real question is, are we attempting to build a security force to protect a government that we think is best from its own populace; or, are we attempting to help a government that its own populace wants protect them from some rogue threat (internal or external). If internal, does that "rogue" threat have any legal, trusted and certain options for engaging its government, or are they forced to resort to illegal / violent arguments?

This is a fine line, and it is one where the perceptions applied matter. Our perceptions as the intervening power are the ones that matter least, and one can rest assured that the perceptions of the government in question will be heavily biased to the preservation of their own status quo.

I am happy to argue to any audience that in Afghanistan we attempt to do the former and that more than any other factor is why we are still there slogging away after all this time and why the security force can't seem to become a competent, self-sufficient organization. GIRoA is a Northern Alliance monopoly. We think that is the right answer, and GIRoA seeks to preserve the monopoly. The excluded segment of the populace have no trusted, legal and certain means avialable to them, so they act out illegally. We brand them all "Taliban" with little regard to which are revolutionary actors seeking to force GIRoA to break their monopoly, and which are resistance actors who are simply weary of our foreign occupation of their home and the violence we bring to them on behalf of GIRoA.

Such approaches were the model for both Colonialism and for Containment as well. In the modern era, however, the pursuit of such approaches is demanding ever increasing energy and producing ever decreasing effects. It is also a major driver of the motivations that lead young men frustrated with the governance of their own country to not only join nationalist insurgency movements, but to also volunteer to support trans-nationalist terrorist organizations such as AQ.

Sometimes there may still be times and places where creating and sustaining artificial systems of security designed to protect and preserve some government against the express insurgent will of its own populace. I suspect those cases are rare.

Increasingly we are better served by employing our influence to bring those governments and populace to the table to work out new guards for their future security, and be willing to work with whatever and whomever emerges from such a process.

We need to evolve.
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Old 07-22-2012   #33
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Default The impact of urbanisation

I wonder whether the impact of increasing urbanisation across the world will have an impact here. To date much of the counter-AQ and counter-AQ partners has been in relatively isolated / remote / extreme climates / rural locations.

The scale of FID could well increase. Imagine if Nigeria or Egypt was the setting.

The French experience in Algeria for example, where the French at one point had security forces of 500k IIRC and this included a not insignificant local element. At that time Algeria was split evenly between rural and urban IIRC; today it is very urbanised.
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Old 07-22-2012   #34
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I wonder whether the impact of increasing urbanisation across the world will have an impact here. To date much of the counter-AQ and counter-AQ partners has been in relatively isolated / remote / extreme climates / rural locations.

The scale of FID could well increase. Imagine if Nigeria or Egypt was the setting.

The French experience in Algeria for example, where the French at one point had security forces of 500k IIRC and this included a not insignificant local element. At that time Algeria was split evenly between rural and urban IIRC; today it is very urbanised.
I think increasing urbanization already has had an impact on military operations, and I'm not sure why you appear to be dismissing the rather large urban CT operations in Baghdad, Tikrit, Falujah, Mogadishu, Kandahar, etc.

On the other hand I think your point is still interesting, it does seem AQ affiliates/partners generally establish strong holds in rural areas (where in theory they should be easier to target). I suspect part of the reason their activity is limited in the larger urban areas is due to security concerns. A lot of citizens watching and reporting, so unless they could establish control in an urban area this will likely remain the norm (of course there will also be exceptions that we may to respond to). I don't think too many people in the world, even the Muslim world view AQ as liberators, so I suspect AQ will generally be at greater risk in larger urban areas and forced to work in a traditional underground cellular in these areas for security.

FID encompasses a broad range of activities and actors, and if the scale of the AQ presence and activity in an urban areas is, the appropriate response is generally small scale security assistance composed mainly of personnel from intelligence, special operations, and contractors with speciality skills. This is often enough to enable the affected state to defeat/suppress this threat.
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Old 07-22-2012   #35
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Bill,

The Soviets promoted a worker's movement, focused in the Cities. Mao tried that and it fell flat, so they shifted to rural areas where their message of land reform resonated more effectively in their agrarian society. Bottom line is, as an insurgent leader go with what works, not with what the book says. Actually that is some damn good advice for our COIN gurus as well...

There can be many reasons why more activity happens outside a city rather than in, some as simple as the old rule of not defecating where one eats.

Most of the insurgency we see inside of Afghanistan is the resistance (small t taliban) against the US forces, and the populaces with the most reason for resisting the US/NATO forces are in the rural areas where we have been operating.

Similarly, the revolutionary aspect of the insurgency (coming out of Pakistan where the Big T Taliban take sanctuary) primarily targets the low hanging fruit of GIRoA governance, and it is much easier to take out a police outpost or disrupt traffic on some remote highway than it is to storm the Provincial HQ.
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Old 07-22-2012   #36
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Bill,

That will teach me to post on a Sunday afternoon after gardening. How could I overlook Baghdad and Basra?

I would disagree with you and this is not the subject of this thread:
Quote:
I suspect part of the reason their activity is limited in the larger urban areas is due to security concerns. A lot of citizens watching and reporting, so unless they could establish control in an urban area this will likely remain the norm...
Citizens do not always watch, let alone report. I do still wonder if AQ & partners switched to an urban area, let alone a huge metropolis, how external FID would work today. In Iraq AQ was not the main enemy, rather a local coalition.
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Old 07-22-2012   #37
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David,

Agree part of this is not on topic, but still necessary to put things in context. There are few places that AQ would be welcome in urban areas. You can't compare them to the Leninists, but people do inappropriately compare them to the Maoists, so you can't win in that regard.

The Brits had to deal with a very tough IRA problem that appeared to those of watching from the outside to be mostly urban. From that problem set a number of useful urban fighting tactics (not to be confused with strategy) we're propogated throughout the West (and perhaps beyond). We now have our own lessons that we can teach in this regard, but the key in my mind is not to confuse teaching tactics with helping the partner get their strategy right.

Long way of saying I think we're quite capable of helping a nation through FID with urban security problems (especially AQ), but we haven't overcome our own deficiencies in getting the strategy right. This generally seems to be area of friction. A local government may have the right strategy, but the wrong tactics, and we show up and often teach good tactics, but push the wrong strategy based on our view of how the world works. Probably taking this down a path you don't want to this thread to go down, but I think it is relevant. If we get the strategy right (more accurately those we're assisting get the strategy right), and communicate it effectively, is likely the forces we help train will fight more effectively. There are a lot of reasons those we train often don't fight well, and one of the intangibles is they often don't believe in the cause and method. The whole world can see it on u-tube, Frontline, National Geographic, and other news specials where the media accompanies our guys into battle with their Afghan counterparts. The most interesting parts of those shows are when they translate the discussions between the Afghan forces and the locals and the Afghan forces apology for the tactics, but say right now they're being forced by the coalition to act this way. We're not good at listening, so I doubt many in our nation focus on those cues, but instead focus on the boastful U.S. NCO or officer explaining how inept the Afghan security forces are because they don't act like us.

Back to your point, what significant change and challenges do you think we would face with our FID doctrine if the focus shifted from the rural to the urban? I think I'm still missing your point.
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Old 07-22-2012   #38
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There are few places that AQ would be welcome in urban areas.
Perhaps not welcome, but urban areas can be a very hospitable place for them. It really depends on what they're trying to do. For an individual or small cell that's lying low, hiding out or building a terror plot with a limited contact cell a city is ideal: you have anonymity, freedom of movement, easy access to communication, banking, etc. For the aspiring insurgent trying to win recruits and spread the message, the city is a lot more dangerous, especially if the local security services are at all competent: the message you preach will be heard in many places, and the same anonymity that can be a shelter to a small cell makes it very difficult to fully vet new recruits.

I personally suspect that AQ and similar groups maintain a quite substantial urban apparatus... of course they would be trying very hard not to draw attention to themselves, and you'd expect them to have little or no contact with local militant groups other than with a few trusted individuals.
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Old 07-22-2012   #39
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
So where exactly is my pet approach worse in regard to puppet government legitimacy than the generally practised one?
It loses the distinction between us and them.

You can speculate over your pet approach if you like, but realistically it isn't going to happen, and I don't see how you can draw a meaningful comparison between the establishment of "sepoy-like forces" in imperial settings (which Americans did as well as anyone else) and what you're proposing.

Your initial contention:

Quote:
The Americans never really mastered this indirect rule and the setup of effective indigenous sepoy-like forces either
still seems somewhat dubious to me, both for the misplaced comparison referred to above and in the implicit assumption that "indirect rule" is the desired end state.
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Old 07-23-2012   #40
Fuchs
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still seems somewhat dubious to me, both for the misplaced comparison referred to above and in the implicit assumption that "indirect rule" is the desired end state.
Seriously, I would never advocate foreign rule, and thus never advocate indirect rule.

The context of the quote was me explaining why the U.S. isn't enough of an empire to reap the benefits of imperial arrogance.
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