Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Hand Shake Con"

The rough and tumble, often contradictory, world of counterinsurgenies

I am trying to post this quickly, and maybe I will elaborate on it later. I am actually quite surprised that this document was a major news story in the New York Times. The United States Army and Marine Corps have a final draft on counterinsurgency, a field manual. It supplants the Field Manual Interim 3.07.22, which I used in a previous post.

What follows are excerpts from FM 3.24 with additional comments concerning Iraq.

Noteworthy generals worked on this document, and they conclude their introduction with:
Conducting a successful counterinsurgency campaign thus requires a flexible, adaptive force led by agile, well-informed, culturally astute leaders. It is our hope that this manual provides the necessary guidelines to succeed in such a campaign, in operations that, inevitably, are exceedingly difficult and complex. Our Soldiers and Marines deserve nothing less.
One passage of this document explains how excessive force can actually produce a more potent insurgency. This directly contradicts the assertions of George W. Bush that attacking our enemies in Iraq will not produce more enemies. (The president used the word "terrorists". The line is very blurred in Iraq.) This passage also explains what the NIE might have meant by Iraq increasing the number of terrorists:
1-116. Any use of force generates a series of reactions. There may be times when an overwhelming effort
is necessary to intimidate an opponent or reassure the populace. But the type and amount of force to be applied, and who wields it, should be carefully calculated by a counterinsurgent for any operation. An operation that kills five insurgents is counterproductive if the collateral damage or the creation of blood feuds leads to the recruitment of fifty more.
This passage comes from the breakdown of different insurgencies, broadly speaking. This form of insurgency, traditional, may be the best description of what is going on in Iraq. Though it is exceptional news that a number of Sunni tribes have agreed to go after al Qaeda in Iraq, they are likely to remain enemies of the coalition and the Shiite government. These groups may wish to re-claim the insurgency for themselves.:
3-90. A traditional strategy relies on building an insurgency along the lines of ethnic, tribal, or religious groups. Such insurgencies draw heavily upon the identity of a group to differentiate themselves from the government. When this strategy is used effectively, entire communities may join the insurgency together. This strategy is strongly associated with liberation insurgencies as insurgent leaders create an “us-and-them” gap between the government and the ethnic, tribal, or religious group and use this division to encourage others to join the insurgency. Insurgencies following this strategy tend to have a large mass base of passive and active supporters built around pre-existing social networks. There also tend to be many auxiliaries. The number of cadre is generally small, as the insurgency relies on traditional authority structures and is generally not intent on spreading a new political system. The number of combatants varies, but there are often large numbers of part-time combatants. There may or may not be many full-time combatants. Leaders usually come from traditional leadership positions, such as religious leaders, tribal chiefs, or tribal councils. Insurgencies using a traditional strategy can be difficult to counter, particularly if they are fighting to liberate their group from the government. Generally speaking, political or economic deals are necessary to end the conflict.
The term "ultimate success" is worth repeating. Have we approached this success? Are we likely to? Also, increased risk has only been broadly adopted by CENTCOM to save a dwindling government and attempt to secure Iraq. (my emphasis):
1-124. Ultimate success in COIN is gained by protecting the populace, not the COIN force. If military forces stay locked up in compounds, they lose touch with the people, appear to be running scared, and cede the initiative to the insurgents. Patrols must be conducted, risk must be shared, and contact maintained. This ensures access to the intelligence needed to drive operations and reinforces the connections with the people that establish real legitimacy.
Much has been made about the media in insurgencies. CENTCOM could better manage the media by controling expectations. Stand up/Stand down is in trouble, and therefore this point is yet to be actualized:
1-113. Information and expectations are related, and both are carefully managed by a skillful counterinsurgent. To limit discontent and build support, a host government and any counterinsurgents assisting it create and maintain a realistic set of expectations among the populace, friendly military forces, and the international community. Information operations (including its related activities of public affairs, and civil-military operations) are key tools to accomplish this. Achieving steady progress toward a set of reasonable expectations can increase the population’s tolerance for the inevitable inconveniences entailed by ongoing counterinsurgency operations. Where large American forces are present to help establish a regime, such progress can extend the period before an army of liberation becomes perceived as an army of occupation.
One section deals with developing a legitimate government. These are the crucial metrics for Iraq and Afghanistan:
1-90. The primary objective of any counterinsurgent is to foster the development of effective governance by a legitimate government. All governments rule through a combination of consent and coercion. Governments described as “legitimate” rule primarily with the consent of the governed, while those described as “illegitimate” tend to rely mainly or entirely on coercion. Their citizens obey the state for fear of the consequences of doing otherwise, rather than because they voluntarily accept its rule. A government that derives its powers from the governed tends to be accepted by its citizens as legitimate. It still uses coercion—for example, against criminals—but the bulk of the population voluntarily accepts its governance.
1-93. Five indicators of legitimacy that can be used to analyze threats to stability include—
􀁺 Frequent selection of leaders in a manner considered just and fair by a substantial majority of
the population.
􀁺 A high level of popular participation in or support for the political process.
􀁺 A low level of corruption.
􀁺 A culturally acceptable level or rate of political, economic, and social development.
􀁺 A high level of regime acceptance by major social institutions.


Blogger mikevotes said...

I did not dig this deep into it, I just read the NYTimes story on these new tactics.

What caught my eye is the almost guaranteed necessity of more troops to properly execute what we're talking about here. I probably saw that prominently because of my creeping fear of an escalation.

The thing is, an announcement of bringing in more troops would create a political effect similar to that discussed under 1-116.

I don't know how you resolve that.


11:44 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

It's cliche, but counterinsurgency seems to be more art than science.

Iraq has been less than artful.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Chuck said...

This doesn't read like a Field Manual. It reads more like a policy statement. A Field Manual would be a lot more definitive and give specific "how to instructions".

I guess if they could write a manual with specific instructions we wouldn't have an insurgency in the first place.

11:13 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

It is very vague insofar as applications. I am a little dubious of the "attention" given to it by the New York Times. This manual has been in draft form since 2004, when a portion of the military realized that counterinsurgency had not been revisited in a generation.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Michael Midura said...

Reading Lt. Col. Nagl's book on COIN and the British and American armies as "learning institutions", I'm just stunned that we seem to repeat the same pattern every generation or so, a least since the early 1900's - fight an insurgency, develop (or at least begin to) some tactics, then promptly forget them as soon as the latest "aberration" from large-scale industrial warfare is finished. The only US service that seems to come out at all well in this regard is the Marine Corps. Oy.

1:47 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Michael, I am not familiar with that work other than I recognize the author and topic. I came across this (.pdf) thesis paper from a US Army Major recently that addresses COIN and the early stages of Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe this Major references that generational-amnesia that COIN operations have undergone. If someone could explain how and why that happens in our military, they'd be a more intelligent man than I.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

I see you have blogrolled me. Thanks. I am still trying to figure out how to get my blogroll up. I'll get it done one way or another.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Michael Midura said...

Copy editor, the book is "Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam" - it's now out in paperback and should be available on Amazon. Thanks for the link to the other paper as well.

9:41 PM  

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