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Old 07-26-2010   #1
jmm99
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Default Gun Control in Counterinsurgency

This article showed up on today's SWJ Blog, Chad Machiela, with pdf Gun Control in Counterinsurgency: A Game Theory Analysis.

The author's BLUF, BLOB & CV:

Quote:
Application of populace and resources control measures in counterinsurgency is often more art than science, and in Iraq’s Salah Din Province in 2006 the battlespace commander’s attempts to reduce the number of weapons available to insurgents actually caused residents otherwise uninvolved in insurgency to violate the law, while effectively ensuring that the population had no means to resist insurgent theft of supplies or forcible recruitment. Game theory offers a means to analyze the options available to different actors in a conflict, and to help identify courses of action more beneficial to all.
...
In conclusion, whenever any authority criminalizes a legal activity in an attempt to reduce the incidence of an illegal activity, second and third-order effects are generated which may result in an outcome not only less effective than hoped for, but even counter to the desired effect. In the case of the al Jazeera desert in Iraq during 2006, the coalition forces’ attempt to minimize the number of weapons available to the insurgents operating in the area contributed to the insurgents’ means of support. The farmers were unable to do anything but support the insurgents regardless of whatever preference they might have for a functioning Government of Iraq. The presence of criminals and the coalition forces’ inability to protect the population resulted in a lack of support for both the legitimacy of the Government of Iraq and coalition forces, and provided the farmers no incentive to follow the rules of an authority that made criminals of a group without criminal intent. By analyzing the options available to the farmers, local commanders could have shifted policy to provide incentive to the farmers to protect themselves, perhaps eventually resulting in less of a need for weapons at all, and a willing reduction of arms.
....
CW3 Chad Machiela is a Special Forces warrant officer assigned to 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Joint Base Lewis McChord. He holds a M.S. in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School and a B.A. in Public Law from Western Michigan University. The opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
Of course, I've omitted all the good stuff that is writ large between the 1st and 2nd quote snips.

This is simply an interesting article, dealing with a topic that has been discussed in the MSM and Net (with spin and heat) re: the US-Mexican border, etc.

I'd as soon this NOT turn into a political (Second Amendment) discussion - and simply ask that folks stick to evidence (with sourcing) about the first, second and third order effects of gun control - as Chief Machiela has done well in his article. In light of SCOTUS's Second Amendment cases, this topic has both legal and practical aspects.

Now, Truth in Lending: As those here who know me well already know, I'm an NRA Life Member (from the 1970s); when I was a "barrister", a pro bona participant in the Second Amendment Foundation and its Legal Assistance Program; and my idea of Gun Control is the almost-perfect 1000 yd, 10X 5-shot group with a .338 Lapua (slightly modded to a "300 Hulk" ), Sarver Sets Amazing new LG Record, 1.403", 50/ 5X (gif of target), in this webpage.

While I'm perfectly capable of slugging it out about Second Amendment issues, I do NOT want this thread to turn into that kind of political discussion. What I would like to see are rational, evidentiary postings regarding the various order effects of gun control in the arena of Small Wars (those that favor gun control, those that don't and those that are inconclusive).

Regards

Mike

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Old 07-26-2010   #2
Schmedlap
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First, I would like to offer a comment in support of JMM's guidance (violating neither the spirit nor letter of it). One can hold an adamant toe-the-party-line NRA position on the 2nd amendment while also believing that strict gun control is necessary in a small war abroad (or vice versa). The reason for this is that the second amendment issue in our nation is an issue pertaining to... wait for it... the United States Constitution. The United States Constitution is ours, not the Iraqis', Afghans', or XYZians'. Our approach toward interpretation of the US Constitution has nothing to do with how we should approach similar issues in areas where the US Constitution is not the law of the land. So this certainly should not degrade into some BS-ing over domestic political ideologies.

On to my more relevant two cents...

It depends. As I noted on the SWJ blog, I not only found it worthwhile to permit ownership of firearms in my sector in 2003, I found it necessary to go to great lengths to arm them because I could not provide adequate security over such a large area with such a small force, significant constraints and limitations, and competing tasks. I was trying to get a firearm in every home, but I would have preferred more because there was not a reliable means for locals to report threats to us and our response time was so long.

Two years later, we likewise found that it was right to permit every household to be armed for home protection, due to the violent situation. But we also found it necessary to limit each household to only one firearm. The reason for this was that home protection in that environment did not require more than one firearm per home. Reporting measures and our closer proximity allowed us to respond to incidents very quickly. Allowing more than one firearm would have made it easier for insurgent and terrorist organizations in the area to hide amongst the people. They could not dump 10 weapons in a home and expect us to just glance in and say, "oh well, home protection, nothing to see here." They knew that if we found a stockpile of weapons, all of the weapons were getting confiscated and some or all of the men were possibly getting detained. Limitations upon firearm ownership were one measure taken to separate our adversaries from the civilian populace in order to identify and neutralize them.
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Old 07-26-2010   #3
OfTheTroops
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Default Can you imagine...

The incredible burden on the system. If you are doing arms control you are way past counterinsurgency. If not enforcing,prosecuting and correcting the people who had a legitimate right to protect them and theirs.

Law should promote good behavior and deter undesirable behavior. So rightfully possessing a firearm (or jedi light saber) for self defense where people smash one another like I kill houseflies.

Locks keep honest people out.... guns embolden civilians in their environment.

I wish the world could be violence free and dogs and alligators could lie down in the swamps together but that just ain't the way it is and probably wouldn't be much fun either.
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Old 07-26-2010   #4
jmm99
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Default Yup,

Quote:
from Schmedlap
First, I would like to offer a comment in support of JMM's guidance (violating neither the spirit nor letter of it). One can hold an adamant toe-the-party-line NRA position on the 2nd amendment while also believing that strict gun control is necessary in a small war abroad (or vice versa). The reason for this is that the second amendment issue in our nation is an issue pertaining to... wait for it... the United States Constitution. The United States Constitution is ours, not the Iraqis', Afghans', or XYZians'. Our approach toward interpretation of the US Constitution has nothing to do with how we should approach similar issues in areas where the US Constitution is not the law of the land. So this certainly should not degrade into some BS-ing over domestic political ideologies.
Amen - well-stated.

As to your "two cents", I'd call that primary evidence (personal knowledge) which could be presented under oath.

My two cents worth: in a military environment under Laws of War ("martial law" in the vulgar sense), I'd go along with (say) census and registration of firearms for each household - that going into their dossier with all other data and intel. Of course, that's my ideal world where you guys are given the resources to do what (say) Galula and others recommend - more part of the police-political effort than the military effort.

Are you a lawyer yet ?

Best

Mike
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Old 07-26-2010   #5
Schmedlap
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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
As to your "two cents", I'd call that primary evidence (personal knowledge) which could be presented under oath.
I'll take your word for it. I've got a grasp of the federal rules, but my understanding is that Michigan went its own way.
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Old 07-26-2010   #6
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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post

My two cents worth: in a military environment under Laws of War ("martial law" in the vulgar sense), I'd go along with (say) census and registration of firearms for each household - that going into their dossier with all other data and intel. Of course, that's my ideal world where you guys are given the resources to do what (say) Galula and others recommend - more part of the police-political effort than the military effort.
That may be easier said than done. It appears that gun-registration in Canada has turned out to be a very expensive fiasco. If it doesn't work well, and is soooo expensive in a country like Canada, what chances have they got in a country like Iraq? The example that Schmedlap gave made sense and I assume that, as the man on the ground he was able to control it to a level he deemed necessary. But IMO, once you start legalising that manner of restrictions and you design and install mechanisms to control and police it, you may well create more headache than it's worth through second and third order effect and the law of unintended consequences.

Sorry JMM, not evidentiary posting, just my quick reaction.
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Old 07-26-2010   #7
jmm99
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Default A dream world, I know...

I posit this situation: a fictional country in which I am an indigenous national; and, for sake of play acting, a district civil affairs officer. The DCAO has direct control over police, including "Special Branch"; over other civil administration components; and also over mobile military forces who operate in the district. Basically, the Malaya triangular pattern of executive committee co-ordination, including but not limited to intelligence co-ordination.

My district is a contested district, with insurgent main forces neutralized (killed, captured or converted) or split into smaller size groups which can be handled by paramilitary police units. The district would be under "martial" or "emergency law" until restoration to what is considered by the natiional command authority to be an "acceptable civil environment".

The incumbant government, whose national command policy I represent, has an insurgency considered of existential importance to the incumbant government (my government). My choices are four: (1) stick with the government; (2) join the insurgency; (3) start a "third way" movement; or (4) leave the country. I posit that I stick with choice 1.

Among the many things I'd want to do in the district would be a census and dossier on each household, which would include, as only a part of the whole, a registry of all items that could be used as weapons against me and mine (e.g., firearms), or manufactured into weapons against me and mine (e.g., nitrogen compounds - e.g., fertilizer - easily converted to explosives and with some other simple household items and homemade components - e.g., into remote-controlled IEDs).

To do all that, I have to have the horses (personnel) in close proximity to the grassroots (villages and hamlets; or urban block by block). In Malaya (in the mature stage of the anti-terr effort), Special Branch (operating on a fairly limited budget) had accurate individual dossiers on about 50% of the insurgents.

Since I have posited that the insurgency is existential, the cost and number of personnel is limited only by what's in the national treasury and manpower pool. Obviously, my dream model has little to do with US involvement in Iraq and Astan.

The bottom line (in response to your post) is that the police and political measures required to defeat an existential insurgency may be needed there, but would be very inefficient (and probably not needed or tolerated) in a normal civil environment.

As to the Canadian link, there is also a pro-gun registry side of the argument (although I appreciate personally the anti-gun registry arguments linked ). As I understand the political situation, the Candaian Senate (as presently constituted) is pro-gun registry. In any event, what may be ineffective and/or inefficient in a normal, civil environment, may be necessary in an existential, contested paramilitary environment.

Regards

Mike
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Old 07-26-2010   #8
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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
My choices are four: (1) stick with the government; (2) join the insurgency; (3) start a "third way" movement; or (4) leave the country. I posit that I stick with choice 1.
Not specifically relevant, but a further option, often adopted in such situations, would be to stay nominally with the government and hedge your bets by maintaining a functional relationship with the other players. The balance point of that strategy would depend on your personal assessment of probable outcomes and your personal likelihood of being hung from a lamp post if the other guys win.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
Among the many things I'd want to do in the district would be a census and dossier on each household, which would include, as only a part of the whole, a registry of all items that could be used as weapons against me and mine (e.g., firearms), or manufactured into weapons against me and mine (e.g., nitrogen compounds - e.g., fertilizer - easily converted to explosives and with some other simple household items and homemade components - e.g., into remote-controlled IEDs).
Short of kicking down doors and ransacking homes, which will only benefit your enemy, how do you achieve that goal? If your district has recently been in a state of insurgency with active conflict, it's likely that much of the populace will distrust or actively dislike government, and will see a registry of weapons as a likely prelude to confiscation. They aren't going to voluntarily reveal their armaments to a potential enemy. Seems to me that in practical terms the outcome of what you suggest would be a whole lot of weapons being carefully hidden away.

The discussion needs to keep in mind that self defense or security may not be the only reason or even the primary reason behind a desire to acquire and retain armaments. In many cultures a man without a weapon isn't quite a man, and people in these cultures will violently resist disarmament initiatives even if they face no immediate threat that requires them to be armed.
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Old 07-27-2010   #9
jmm99
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Default Naw, Steve, I don't want to ...

be into "kicking down doors and ransacking homes" - I'm a low kinetic person.

I'm positing indigenous "COIN", where the people in my district are my people (some well-guided, some misguided and some uncertain). I'm not positing non-indigenous FID (much less foreign "COIN" or some half-assed form of co-belligerency) because that introduces too much complexity that clouds even more otherwise complex issues that have to resolved first.

Tactical alternatives to "kicking down doors and ransacking homes" abound - basically the opposites are being the bull in a china shop or a boa digesting a meal (making haste slowly). You may judge where you think my ground would be to stand snorting or to lay sleepily.

Rather than first moving into specific tactics, I'd first have to decide on the strategy to enter the district in the first place. I see two basic options:

1. "Clear, hold and build" (pretty much "standard COIN" for the last 40 years) - the direct approach with the most apparent short-term results - which I've tended to follow (as in post #7) as something of a norm in examples cuz that seems more familiar to most folks; OR

2. "Build, hold and clear" (build an unconventional force which will infiltrate and subvert the insurgent shadow government and forces; hold and expand strategic base areas and disperse the insurgent forces; and clear by the juncture of conventional and unconventional forces) - an indirect approach with slow apparent results (it took Giap four bites at the apple).

-------------------------
Those more inclined to the first course of action (which I do not reject out of hand), especially those who like the "clear" phase, might be more inclined to Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

On the other hand, the second course of action is somewhat akin to what we find in Isaac Asimov, Foundation - the Foundation's strategy, especially as found in Part IV, the Traders; as "engineered" by Limmar Ponyets and Eskel Gorov.

Limmar Ponyets and Eskel Gorov are not among Asimov's major characters, but I like their style in doing their "things" - infiltration, subversion, etc.; and using the target's weaknesses to create the conditions for the target's defeat (and often demise). Or, perhaps, the motto "Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right."

Part IV can be found here; e.g.:

Quote:
Part IV, The Traiders
.....
TRADERS-… and constantly in advance of the political hegemony of the Foundation were the Traders, reaching out tenuous fingerholds through the tremendous distances of the Periphery. Months or years might pass between landings on Terminus; their ships were often nothing more than patchquilts of home-made repairs and improvisations; their honesty was none of the highest; their daring…

Through it all they forged an empire more enduring than the pseudo-religious despotism of the Four Kingdoms…

Tales without end are told of these massive, lonely figures who bore half-seriously, half-mockingly a motto adopted from one of Salvor Hardin's epigrams, "Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!" It is difficult now to tell which tales are real and which apocryphal. There are none probably that have not suffered some exaggeration…

Encyclopedia Galactica
Review here (pp.44-45 of pdf) of the original version of “The Traders.” (Astounding Science Fiction, Vol. 34, No. 3, Issue 167, October 1944 as “The Wedge”).

Quote:
The Foundation now controls the four kingdoms by means of religion, but outlying areas are beginning to see that the atomic religion is only a wedge for aggression, and refuse it entry. It is now becoming clear that religion is played out as a weapon, and that the next mode of expansion, trade, is in the air.

***About 75 years after the events of the previous story, Limmar Ponyets is dispatched to Askone, a world rich in raw materials that has thus far spurned any commerce with the Foundation, for fear that it would lead to the Foundation’s Scientism religion controlling their society. Ponyets’s job is to negotiate for the release of Eskel Gorov, a Foundation agent who was sent to find a way to initiate trade with Askone. This was a violation of that planet’s law, and Gorov is scheduled to be executed.

***The Askonian society is dubious of technology, and practices ancestor worship. The Grand Master (their elderly leader) is firm about not accepting any technology from the Foundation, and about proceeding with Gorov’s execution. However, Ponyets convinces them to release Gorov in exchange for a gold transmuter jury-rigged out of a “food irradiation chamber” (presumably a more advanced version of a microwave oven).

***More importantly, Ponyets accomplishes Gorov’s mission of creating an opening for Foundation trade. He blackmails a member of the governing council, Pherl, to buy all of his cargo, which consists of many devices and machines forbidden by Askonian law. This council member, who does not believe in his culture’s superstitions against technology, then has an incentive to work towards the legalization of those machines, so that he can begin using and selling them to recoup his loss. It is indicated that Pherl, who is young for someone so important in government, will be the next Grand Master shortly, further hastening Askone’s susceptibility to Foundation trade and the controlling religion that it brings with it. Ponyets and Gorov head back to Terminus with a shipload of tin, which Ponyets was able to extract from Pherl as part of their bargain.
Query, should AQ be translated as the "Base" or as the "Foundation" ?

Regards

Mike

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Old 07-28-2010   #10
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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
I don't want to be into "kicking down doors and ransacking homes" - I'm a low kinetic person.

I'm positing indigenous "COIN", where the people in my district are my people (some well-guided, some misguided and some uncertain). I'm not positing non-indigenous FID (much less foreign "COIN" or some half-assed form of co-belligerency) because that introduces too much complexity that clouds even more otherwise complex issues that have to resolved first.

Tactical alternatives to "kicking down doors and ransacking homes" abound - basically the opposites are being the bull in a china shop or a boa digesting a meal (making haste slowly). You may judge where you think my ground would be to stand snorting or to lay sleepily.
I'd point out that indigenous COIN is often a very kinetic and very nasty business, and that in many (I'd guess most) areas that are or have recently been threatened by insurgency there's a history of human rights abuse by government forces and a very active distrust of government. I realize that you wouldn't be planning to do any of that stuff, but you'd likely be dealing with the legacy of such actions... if government is liked and trusted and there's no recent history of confrontation there probably won't be much of an insurgency.

I still think you'll have a very, very difficult time persuading the citizenry to reveal their arms holdings, with any strategy.

In some ways your scenario resembles the place where I live. We had an active insurgency going on from the late 70s to the early 90s, and there are still bands of NPA active in the area. From the local view the insurgency was fought to block government plans to dam rivers, log mountains, and set up mines; all those plans were shelved, so the locals see themselves as the winners. From the government point of view the insurgency was a subset of the NPA's armed struggle to topple the government. People here actively dislike the military and don't like them around, but are no longer shooting at them as long as they don't get too aggressive. The image of the NPA is a little better but most people don't want them around either, as wherever they go the soldiers also go.

The populace is heavily and illegally armed, but the weapons are not displayed. The police are local people and are not going to do a thing about it. Military forces know the guns are there but as long as the guns aren't used against them they pretend not to know: they've no desire to stick their heads back into that particular hornet's nest. So the deal is basically that the locals will keep the guns under wraps and not shoot soldiers as long as the soldiers stay low profile and avoid confronting civilians. It mostly works, though it's not ideal.

To illustrate my point above... back in 1988 a group of drunk soldiers fired weapons in the town center here and killed 2 kids, one 2 years old, one 11. Nobody was prosecuted or punished. 20 years have not chilled that memory one bit. My wife still feels very uncomfortable in the presence of anyone from the Philippine military, and most of the populace feels the same way. If the people who shot your kids (it's a tribal society, the kids of one are the kids of all) come around wanting to know how many guns you have, will you tell them?
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Old 07-28-2010   #11
jmm99
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Default Steve, I already know (it has been revealed !) ....

They keep; I Know

from this:

Quote:
from Dayuhan
The populace is heavily and illegally armed, but the weapons are not displayed. The police are local people and are not going to do a thing about it. Military forces know the guns are there but as long as the guns aren't used against them they pretend not to know: they've no desire to stick their heads back into that particular hornet's nest. So the deal is basically that the locals will keep the guns under wraps and not shoot soldiers as long as the soldiers stay low profile and avoid confronting civilians. It mostly works, though it's not ideal.
They are my police (I'm the district civil affairs officer) and indirectly my military. Now, if you're telling me that my cops and troopers won't tell me what they know, then we're into a different problem.

Sounds to me that what you have is a pretty good solution. The local population in effect is its own power center, with its own armed force, so that, at the least, it has something of a Mexican standoff (the Magnificant Seven x2) with both the government and insurgents.[*]

So, this district officer would not rock the boat, but would want to know as closely as possible what potentially harmful stuff is out there. Patience and time would yield those answers - the python who slithers, not the bull who stomps. It would also help if the district officer is at least something close to local - and not some knucklehead born and raised in the capital's suburbia.

Outsiders ?

Which takes me here:

Quote:
from Dayuhan
To illustrate my point above... back in 1988 a group of drunk soldiers fired weapons in the town center here and killed 2 kids, one 2 years old, one 11. Nobody was prosecuted or punished. 20 years have not chilled that memory one bit. My wife still feels very uncomfortable in the presence of anyone from the Philippine military, and most of the populace feels the same way. If the people who shot your kids (it's a tribal society, the kids of one are the kids of all) come around wanting to know how many guns you have, will you tell them?
Were the soldiers (and their Os and NCOs) outsiders ? I could relate to that if a bunch of Trolls (them that live under the Bridge; it being the Mackinac Bridge) were sent up here to garrison us Yoopers. Obviously, my solution (as the fictional district officer) would be different (both preventative and reprobative) than what occured in your town in 1988.

I suggest that, where the folks that represent the government are "outsiders" (wherever the locals draw that line), those folks (1) are very similar to an occupying foreign force; and (2) are practicing what is in effect foreign COIN - as we did in Iraq, and are in Astan, by being the lead sled dog.

So, the ideal is to have locals involved, as Giap had in SVN ca. 1959-1965. By the end of that time, he'd run through about 100K of his Southern-born military and political cadres; and had to use more and more Northern-born PAVN. That did have an adverse effect on the VC (although other factors also entered the picture).

Interesting discussion for me (although I'm a poor fiction writer). I'd say our views are probably similar; but, of course, not in lockstep - which would be no fun at all.

Regards

Mike

--------------------
[*] Illustrating the practical effect of an armed citizenry, keeping and bearing arms - something that appeals to this libertarian for more than esoteric legal and political theories.

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Old 07-28-2010   #12
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That may be easier said than done. It appears that gun-registration in Canada has turned out to be a very expensive fiasco. If it doesn't work well, and is soooo expensive in a country like Canada, what chances have they got in a country like Iraq?

Sorry JMM, not evidentiary posting, just my quick reaction.
The program you point to is long-run registration, not gun control. The former failed because long guns have legal and long-established use on farms, hunting etc. and a single-shot .22 rifle is rarely used in crime, hence the pushback on registering them. Canada has effective, and extremely well accepted among citizens, gun control on other weapons from handguns to assault weapons and "gun control" just isn't an issue, just licensing requirements for long guns.

Of course, if the guns never get into the hands of the citizens in the first place, you have an easier time regulating them, just like pretty much everything else you can think of. That's why I don't think you can transfer the Canadian experience to Detroit, let alone Basra.
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Old 07-28-2010   #13
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Default Southern Helmand issues

We face a peculiar dynamic in terms of weapons registration in my AO, which need not be that hard to resolve, but it is. Locals have weapons for sure, to include the ubiquitous AK-47 or variant, and some of the bigger players are known to control many weapons at once. The problem has arisen, however, that they are afraid to keep these weapons around for fear of being connected to the insurgency and a weapons facilitator, so in at least one case the weapons are reported to be buried. What is truly odd is the fact that these same villagers complain about being strong-armed and intimidated by the Taliban, yet have never reported a single instance where they used weapons to defend themselves. To some degree, they are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place of openly carrying an AK and risking getting fired upon by coalition forces, or being attacked by the Taliban for appearing to be actively defending themselves and putting up resistance. We assess that the average man who wants to register his weapon with GIRoA is even too afraid to take it to the DC in order to have its serial number recorded and logged into a district registry.

The bottom line is that the locals do not seem to have weapons on them at the right time to defeat the insurgents’ actions. Giving them a weapons registration card doesn’t necessarily mean they are suddenly start carrying an AK-47 in a cross-body fashion while they farm their fields or tend to the goats. I think a win for everyone down here lies in the more widespread use of pistols. For starters, they are short range, conversational distance affairs, with lower risk of collateral damage. They are also easier to conceal. If a patrol or vehicle checkpoint comes across a local with one on him, he need do nothing more than what conceal carry permit holders do in the US, assuming he has registered his weapon with the district government. Retrieve the ID card surreptitiously and present it for review. The coalition forces involved need to have the savvy to not retrieve the weapon and brandish in front of every onlooker, but a cursory inspection on the card and the individual is all that is required.

This all requires an almost herculean effort to combine information operations messages, engagement with district officials, security forces mentoring approaches, patrolling strategies, biometrics collection efforts, and litany of other synchronized tasks in order to be accomplished, but it can be done with the appropriate amount of effort and sense of “give a you-know-what.”

Now, in the current environment, concerns abound about central government control and authority, and masses of armed civilians moving about the districts under arms and potentially massing on their own to take action outside the scope of normal law and order, or outside the scope of the security apparatus. This worries many people for certain, from the President himself, down to think-tankers who spend a lot of time analyzing the influence of small arms in failed or failing states, and instability. There is good reason for concern, but it need not result in hand-wringing. In fact, in those areas that are under-governed, an armed society can shape itself into a polite and civil society, and resist the influence of those knuckleheads who would seek to take over a village via their own inkblot strategy. Right now, learned helplessness is keeping these people on their knees, and it doesn’t need to be that way
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Old 07-28-2010   #14
jmm99
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Default Moving from JMM fiction to Jon Custis fact ....

and thank you, Jon, for a non-armchair response which tells us what the real, practical issues are.

It doesn't need any armchair comments from me; except I have to say that it ends in an astute observation:

Quote:
Right now, learned helplessness is keeping these people on their knees, and it doesn’t need to be that way.
Thou art a worthy successor to the CAP guys of 45 years ago.

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Old 07-28-2010   #15
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We face a peculiar dynamic in terms of weapons registration in my AO, which need not be that hard to resolve, but it is. Locals have weapons for sure, to include the ubiquitous AK-47 or variant, and some of the bigger players are known to control many weapons at once. The problem has arisen, however, that they are afraid to keep these weapons around for fear of being connected to the insurgency and a weapons facilitator, so in at least one case the weapons are reported to be buried. What is truly odd is the fact that these same villagers complain about being strong-armed and intimidated by the Taliban, yet have never reported a single instance where they used weapons to defend themselves. To some degree, they are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place of openly carrying an AK and risking getting fired upon by coalition forces, or being attacked by the Taliban for appearing to be actively defending themselves and putting up resistance. We assess that the average man who wants to register his weapon with GIRoA is even too afraid to take it to the DC in order to have its serial number recorded and logged into a district registry.

The bottom line is that the locals do not seem to have weapons on them at the right time to defeat the insurgents’ actions. Giving them a weapons registration card doesn’t necessarily mean they are suddenly start carrying an AK-47 in a cross-body fashion while they farm their fields or tend to the goats. I think a win for everyone down here lies in the more widespread use of pistols. For starters, they are short range, conversational distance affairs, with lower risk of collateral damage. They are also easier to conceal. If a patrol or vehicle checkpoint comes across a local with one on him, he need do nothing more than what conceal carry permit holders do in the US, assuming he has registered his weapon with the district government. Retrieve the ID card surreptitiously and present it for review. The coalition forces involved need to have the savvy to not retrieve the weapon and brandish in front of every onlooker, but a cursory inspection on the card and the individual is all that is required.
I don't disagree with your point, Jim, it's excellent, but an AK comes with a strap, a pistol needs a holster, esp if you're wearing local manjammies. How long would it take for groups of Taliban to start frisking farmers? And one of two things will happen, they'll either come up with a pistol or an empty holster, neither of which indicates long-term survivability for the local. I'm given to understand that even American LEO are less than impressed to find empty pistol holsters on people, and the Talib are all about face-to-face contact, they don't roll around in Strykers.

I would still imagine the farmers would rather have a well-hidden AK or two than a pistol on their person (and where is a poor farmer going to get ammo for a pistol that doesn't fire ubiquitous 7.62 and needs regular cleaning so it works, unlike an AK?)
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Old 07-28-2010   #16
Rex Brynen
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What is truly odd is the fact that these same villagers complain about being strong-armed and intimidated by the Taliban, yet have never reported a single instance where they used weapons to defend themselves.
Is this odd at all? Unless village action is collective, large-scale, and sustained to the point that it deters future intimidation, using a personal weapon against the Taliban seems likely to result in larger-scale retribution. Indeed, from an insurgent point of view, it would be essential to make the point that "resistance is futile." Unless counter-insurgent forces have sufficient presence and response time to prevent it, the insurgents control the "escalatory ladder." (This is probably why some of the more successful cases of village self-defence in Afghanistan occur near colaition forces or where there are embedded SF teams... think of it as the Magnificent Seven effect.)

This is potentially a very different situation from defending oneself from criminal activity, where the perceived cost-benefit structure is rather different from the criminal's perspective, and where criminals are likely to focus on the easiest pickings.

On a larger note on the gun control issue, it very much depends on the context. If we're talking rural Iraq or Afghanistan where gun ownership is longstanding and widespread, there may be little point (and indeed, some dysfunctional effects) of attempting civilian disarmament. Conversely, if the area is one where gun ownership (especially military small arms ownership) has been rare, growing civilian gun ownership can escalate small local conflicts over grazing rights, etc. into much larger, violent, and bloody confrontations than used to be the case (a growing problem, for example, in Kenya).
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Old 07-28-2010   #17
Umar Al-Mokhtār
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While 2nd Amendment advocates certainly claim bearing arms is a right, the “gun control” issue to me is really more about “prior restraint.”

This would be true in the US as well as many other countries. Consider this first; can we agree that in most countries the number of law abiding citizens who legally own guns typically heavily outnumbers those who use guns to commit crimes? This would exclude countries that have total gun bans, such as Japan (and Japan’s societal attitudes towards personal weapons ownership date back thousands of years and made a total gun ban fairly easy to implement).

If so, then the following is at the root of the world view of the two sides of gun control:

Gun Rights Advocates: As a free person you are considered innocent until you prove yourself otherwise and are trusted to inherently respect the rights of others and would only use firearms if necessary in self defense. (I would posit this applies to most people)

Strict Gun Control Advocates: You are to be considered untrustworthy and absent laws and strict enforcement will not inherently respect the right of others and would use firearms inappropriately. (I would say this almost universally applies to criminals, terrorists, insurgents, etc)

Criminals, to include terrorists and insurgents, tend to not obey the laws of the state so gun control laws will not prevent them from acquiring or using guns in criminal activity. The police and/or security forces cannot be everywhere all the time; that is unless you create a police force that is virtually 1 to 1 to the citizenry. That is both unfeasible from a fiscal standpoint and from the view that it would literally create a “police state.” So while “To serve, and protect” is a nice motto for many law enforcement agencies; the reality is an emphasis heavily weighted towards “serve” rather than “protect.” In fact most US courts have found the police have "no duty to protect" an individual citizen. They protect by removing criminals after the fact, thus "protection" come under the rules of law in the form of dissuasion to not break laws through the penalties for the inappropriate use of guns.

“Gun control” is just one of the several issues concerning a state's control over its citizenry. In a free society the state should limit its control over individual activity and restrict itself to advising the citizenry of potential danger or punishing those who do grievous harm. For example, I have no problem with warning labels on alcohol and tobacco products or even the government requiring McDonald’s to put caution “high saturated fat content” warnings on its Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese wrapper. But the government has absolutely no business telling me I cannot drink, smoke, and consume Micky D burgers all day long should I choose to. Or that I cannot own guns.

So one of the effects of criminalizing what was previously a legal activity, whether in COIN or in societies in general, is that there will be those who willfully disobey the law by possessing guns, preferring to feel secure and willing to suffer the consequences if they must use the weapon in self defense.

Another effect would probably be the expansion of an underground market for weapons, particularly if the security situation is poor and police and security forces unable to adequately provide security. This expansion of illegal activity would no doubt prompt a response from law makers and law enforcement thus adding to their responsibilities. As to what order of magnitude these would take on would depend on other factors such as the pre-ban number of weapons, the overall level of personal security, and the size of the security forces in relation to the security level.
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Old 07-28-2010   #18
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How long would it take for groups of Taliban to start frisking farmers? And one of two things will happen, they'll either come up with a pistol or an empty holster, neither of which indicates long-term survivability for the local.
Hopefully they'll come up with a pistol to their temple. This is the whole point of allowing the common man to be armed. All the farmer need do is present the weapon to said Taliban center-mass areas, pull the trigger, rinse, and repeat as necessary.

I agree though, it requires collective response. We get collective complaints when patrols stop by to conduct engagement...perhaps it is best the collectively address the issues of knuckleheads encroaching on the perimeter of their village.

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Old 07-28-2010   #19
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If so, then the following is at the root of the world view of the two sides of gun control.
I'm not sure a great many societies would recognize the world views that you set forth as accurately describing their perceptions of the issue. Moreover, I suspect that there's no correlation at all between levels of general societal interpersonal trust and attitudes to gun control.

Let's take the Canadian case again. As 40below has already mentioned, there is much more support here for a significant degree of "gun control" than in the US, with the only issue that is really debated being the long gun registry. However, Canada actually has somewhat higher levels of interpersonal trust than the US, suggesting that while we think you're less likely to use a handgun in a bad way, we are also less likely to think you should have one in the first place.

I'm not stating that as a generalizable global hypothesis at all--it's only to argue that your perception of what the gun control issue is about is not one that would resonate in much of the rest of the Western world.
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Old 07-29-2010   #20
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Hopefully they'll come up with a pistol to their temple. This is the whole point of allowing the common man to be armed. All the farmer need do is present the weapon to said Taliban center-mass areas, pull the trigger, rinse, and repeat as necessary.
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Unless village action is collective, large-scale, and sustained to the point that it deters future intimidation, using a personal weapon against the Taliban seems likely to result in larger-scale retribution. Indeed, from an insurgent point of view, it would be essential to make the point that "resistance is futile." Unless counter-insurgent forces have sufficient presence and response time to prevent it, the insurgents control the "escalatory ladder." (This is probably why some of the more successful cases of village self-defence in Afghanistan occur near coalition forces or where there are embedded SF teams.
I think Rex is right on this one. There are good and obvious reasons why an armed farmer wouldn’t want to bring his weapon along on his daily rounds. The Taliban get to show up where and when they choose, and if there are 5 or 10 or 20 armed Taliban and one armed farmer it’s not likely that the farmer would be presenting his weapon to the center-mass area of the Taliban. More likely the farmer would have to choose between contributing his weapon to the Taliban arsenal and fertilizing the field of his sons. The gun is likely to stay home, where it gives its owner the option of banding together with similarly armed neighbors to fight as a group if it’s necessary to do so.

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Canada actually has somewhat higher levels of interpersonal trust than the US, suggesting that while we think you're less likely to use a handgun in a bad way, we are also less likely to think you should have one in the first place.
The desire of a populace to hold weapons is not necessarily proportional to perceived threat or trust. In some cultures it’s simply expected that a man will have weapons and know how to use them, whether or not there’s an immediate threat and whether or not police and security forces are generally adequate.

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They are my police (I'm the district civil affairs officer) and indirectly my military. Now, if you're telling me that my cops and troopers won't tell me what they know, then we're into a different problem.
Again, based on the actual realities in areas with insurgency issues, that’s a problem you’re quite likely to have.

Again looking at my area, the cops and the military know there are plenty of guns out there, but they do not know exactly who has them or where they are… and they aren’t going to start asking, lest they find themselves on the receiving end of that well-stashed arsenal.

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Sounds to me that what you have is a pretty good solution. The local population in effect is its own power center, with its own armed force, so that, at the least, it has something of a Mexican standoff with both the government and insurgents.
It’s an adequate solution. Essentially the communities have agreed to accept the nominal authority of the national government, as long as that government doesn’t press to make that authority actual.

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So, this district officer would not rock the boat, but would want to know as closely as possible what potentially harmful stuff is out there. Patience and time would yield those answers - the python who slithers, not the bull who stomps. It would also help if the district officer is at least something close to local - and not some knucklehead born and raised in the capital's suburbia.
In this case “as closely as possible” would mean accepting that there’s enough stuff around to make a major mess, that you don’t know where it is or who has it, and that you can’t find out without provoking a major mess. It helps in our case that the communities are tribal societies with effective methods for internal dispute resolution, which means there’s little likelihood of the guns being used unless the community as a whole sees itself as threatened.

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Were the soldiers (and their Os and NCOs) outsiders ? I could relate to that if a bunch of Trolls (them that live under the Bridge; it being the Mackinac Bridge) were sent up here to garrison us Yoopers. Obviously, my solution (as the fictional district officer) would be different (both preventative and reprobative) than what occured in your town in 1988.

I suggest that, where the folks that represent the government are "outsiders" (wherever the locals draw that line), those folks (1) are very similar to an occupying foreign force; and (2) are practicing what is in effect foreign COIN - as we did in Iraq, and are in Astan, by being the lead sled dog.
Yes, they were outsiders, and you’re right, they were (and are) viewed largely as a foreign occupying force.

We don’t have district officers, of course; we have locally elected Mayors and Governors. Police and military forces are answerable to a national “outsider” chain of command, though in the case of the police, who are mostly locals, actual affinity in practical terms is more with traditional tribal governance. The military chain of command and the local power structure have a somewhat uneasy relationship.

I realize that in your hypothetical situation you would not condone or tolerate abuse of the populace. My point was that given the realities of most places with active insurgencies you would probably have to deal with the legacy of events that happened before you arrived… and that trust once broken is difficult to restore.
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