Better Late Than Never

Better Late Than Never by Mark Thompson, Time.

Interesting Pentagon contract buried deep in the long list it announced Friday. The Army awarded nearly $15 million to Jorge Scientific of Arlington, Va., to “provide for the modification of an existing contract to research and develop a methodology for counter insurgency operations. Work will be performed in Arlington and Afghanistan…”

To develop a methodology for COIN ops in Afghanistan? Heck, we arrived on Oct. 7, 2001, and we still don’t have a counter-insurgency plan? Not only that — we’ve got to hire outsiders to do it? Even as we’re planning to pull all our combat troops out by the end of 2014?

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This type of stuff makes me shake my head in disgust. For the amount this worthless, yes worthless, study costs we could have kept the USJFCOM Joint Irregular Warfare Center alive. Every COIN study contract over the last decade (and there have been many, both formal and informal) touts "in-country" visits and interviews as a cornerstone. What they get is a snapshot in time in a particular corner of a COIN effort. Moreover, if they really want to do at least a half-ass job they should go back to the future and figure out what it would have taken to not get where we are at today. Not on how to undo and improve on something we broke a long time ago.

Agree that this type of study is useless but how many tax payer funded "centers" to study IW does the US military actually need?

I can only speak for the Dept of the Navy but here are a sample of organizations established to counter the IW problem:

- OPNAV N3/N5 IW
- ONI Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center
- Marine Corps Center for Irregular Warfare
- Naval Post Graduate School’s Center on Terrorism and Irregular Warfare
- Naval War College’s Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups.

Do you think having one more joint center on top of all the Service efforts will somehow make a difference?

Yes, I've worked with (and for one - USMC CIW) many of the organizations you mentioned. They are Service specific in missions and tasks (as it should be). IW is by nature Joint and Whole of Government and requires concept and doctrine development as well as experimentation and wargaming to ensure all the parts when added up work as one. The JIWC (I worked for them) was finally coming into its own when the rug was pulled.

Perhaps someone needs to alert their Congress rep to this "pork"? Now if only we could get a few odd names in the media to get things moving along.

Considering that it's possible that someone's Congress rep might have sponsored said contract, that can be easier said than done. Remember, even though Congress' approval rate may be at 10%, those same folks often turn around and say that THEIR rep is actually doing fine.

"Wonder if that means we get our $77 million back if Afghanistan goes south?"

Heck big Army, or anyone else, donate a very small fraction of that amount to the non-for-profit Small Wars Foundation and we will put our extensive community of practice and interest to work and deliver more than contractor double-speak.

We've been delivering discussions, articles, and assessments of COINlessons learned and unlear1ned as well as best practices for years and are barely able to keep our head above water. In waltzes the pros from Dover and land $71 million. Merry Christmas.