Counterinsurgency and Community Policing in Afghanistan

The Counterinsurgency Training Center–Afghanistan (CTC-A) has established a COIN Training continuum for both the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP).  Currently it is seeking final approval through Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) mechanisms to implement these continuums, build instructor capacity, and support COMISAF intent of building a COIN focused ANSF.  The tenets, principles, and best practices of Counterinsurgency (COIN) and Community Policing (CP) are based in the ability of the force applying them to link with the population.  In essence, the conduct of population-centric operations via COIN and CP across all battlefield and civil service functions is necessary.  This paper will compare COIN and CP as very complimentary methods in theory and execution.

 

Over the past year, the CTC-A has expanded its training focus from the ANA to include the Afghan National Police (ANP). This has been done to accomplish a better overall Afghanistan Nation Security Forces (ANSF) link to the population and provide tools to boost Afghan population’s perception of the force, as well as equip the ANP with the same attitudes, skills and behaviors we have infused into  over 30,000 ANA we’ve trained thus far.  This approach is supported by the logical connection between the principles of Counterinsurgency and Community Policing (CP).  Before we move forward, a quick definition of both is helpful:

 

Definition of COIN. Those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency (JP 1-02).  The definition of COIN includes the term “paramilitary” which is defined as a group of civilians organized in a military fashion, especially to operate in place of or assist regular army troops.  By definition it is necessary to have both military and paramilitary forces working together when combating an insurgency.  In Afghanistan the role of “paramilitary” has been assumed by both coalition forces and host nation police forces, with the plan of transitioning to solely to host nation paramilitary/police forces over time.

 

Definition of Community Policing.  Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime (US Department of Justice).  Community Policing has many variations across the world depending on societal norms and must be tailored to the community in which it is implemented to achieve effective change, with positive results; however, the above definition is generic enough to make the point and will suffice.  Due to the link between the police and the people—as well as the imperative of military COIN forces to link with the people—it must be assumed that the military and policing efforts should be intrinsically linked via the training of the military COIN force in basic policing principles. 

 

 

 

Comparing COIN and CP. The “ground level” of government, in any society, that has the closest connection with the population is its police force.  This is due to the daily interaction an effective police force has with the population it serves.  The police represent “Security Under the Rule of Law” (a COIN principle), and if effective, provide societal law and order.  In a COIN campaign, building this force is imperative and proper training must be understood by coalition elements.  Regardless of whether the police force is built in the style of Gendarmerie, Caribinieri, or a US-style community/state police force, they will represent the first link to governance and security via the perceptions of the people. Their effectiveness is paramount to maintaining long term stability —and therefore conducting successful COIN operations.  

 

Typically, military forces are utilized in “policing roles” in some capacity, depending on their training and force disposition in the COIN environment. Those forces must understand the principles of COIN and CP and how to operate like a host nation police force, linking with the population to provide security until a host nation police force can assume the role. In any COIN environment, it is sometimes necessary to utilize a purely military approach, employing basic infantry skills to gain a foothold into a contested area.  However, as time goes by, military forces that continue to use heavy-handed population resource control measures will wear on the strategic sympathies of the population.  Therefore it is important that COIN forces both understand CP as they operate, and also simultaneously train host nation police forces to take over. Below is a chart showing the similarities between basic Community Policing principles and military COIN principles.

 

Community Policing Principles

Counterinsurgency Principles

Collaborative effort between police and citizens/other agencies

Unity of effort is essential; with civilians, coalition partners, and the host nation

Shared ownership, decision making, and accountability

Legitimacy is the main objective in COIN, reinforced by security under the rule of law

Sustained commitment to public safety

Counterinsurgents must prepare for, and communicate, a long-term commitment

Building trust between police and the community

Conduct population-centric operations in order to gain legitimacy

Provide skills and knowledge to support community initiatives

Political factors are primary; evaluate how operations strengthen the host nation

Ongoing commitment to develop proactive strategies and programs to address the underlying conditions that cause community problems

Elements must learn and adapt quickly in the COIN environment, consistently addressing the grievances of the population

Decentralize police services / operations / management

Empower COIN forces at the lowest levels

Addressing the root-cause of problems for long term solutions

Address grievances through population-centric operations

Commitment to developing new skills through training

Train host nation forces, and handover to them as soon as is practicable

Confronting and arresting criminal elements

Neutralize insurgents through intelligence driven operations

 

Unity of Effort. In order to achieve success in the COIN fight, unity of effort must be pursued and eventually achieved. All COIN elements (police/military) must have common goals and a defined mutually supporting end state for the host nation. As we know, in the Afghan COIN environment roles and responsibilities—especially regarding the defeat of guerrilla and insurgent elements—will cross, requiring collaboration based on common skill sets.  As an example, the police will be called upon to conduct defensive operations on behalf of a village (military role) and the military will be called upon to conduct basic population and resource control measures such as checkpoints (police role). This fact demonstrates that both forces need to be equipped and trained to perform similar functions and behavior sets that build the confidence of the population.

 

CP and COIN must overlap in all elements of host nation education, training, and operations. It is the coalition’s responsibility to build that collaboration through training and educating the military and police forces with similar skills, where necessary, and by linking them operationally during the conduct of operations.

 

Conclusion. COIN is a complex subset of warfare that must address the conditions of the population, addressing their grievances and eventually eliminating the “root causes” for the insurgency. If this is done through unity of effort, long term success will be achieved. In Afghanistan, the primary “root cause” for insurgency is the perception of vulnerability of the population relative to their security needs. The ANSF is the force that will address this, ultimately determining the fate of the population’s perception.  In order to do this, the ANSF (both ANA and ANP) must be trained in COIN and how it links with Community Policing.  If this is achieved, then the ANA can eventually displace from an area and the ANP will maintain the daily linkages with the population, providing enduring security under the rule of law. Therefore, it is imperative that both COIN and CP principles be inculcated into all ANA and ANP training institutions and that coalition forces consistently reinforce them in all interactions with the ANSF.

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Domestic Insights: Gangs and Guerrillas: Ideas from Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism,

Edited by Michael Freeman and Hy Rothstein

Can counter insurgency strategies be used to fight urban gangs? This question was discussed
in a conversation between the Mayor of Salinas, the Provost of the Naval Postgraduate
School and Representative Sam Farr. It became apparent during that discussion that there
were many similarities between insurgent behavior and gang behavior—similarities that
would make a more rigorous analysis worthwhile.

These similarities are readily apparent when reading General Petraeus’s counterinsurgency
guidance for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan (see Appendix I). In his list of twentyfour
“rules,” many of them resonate, but especially the following: secure and serve the
population; live among the people; help confront the culture of impunity; hold what we
secure; foster lasting solutions; consult and build relationships, but not just with those who
seek us out; walk; act as one team; be first with the truth; fight the information war aggressively;
manage expectations; and live our values. Ultimately, these guidelines intend to reach
the same end state as urban policing does: a safe and secure population.

With this theme in mind, the faculty of the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval
Postgraduate School, experts in counterinsurgency operations, were enlisted to address
these similarities and to share their theories, models, and ideas from their own disciplines of
political science, sociology, anthropology, international relations, and more. This collection
of short papers is the result.

The goal of this project is to share the ideas developed to fight insurgents and terrorists and
see if they can be adapted or modified to help the people of Salinas think about their city’s
problem with gangs in an innovative way. Consequently, each chapter is intentionally left
short, as they are intended to stimulate thought more than fully explain any one model or
theory. The direct application of each chapter’s concept is left to the reader.

While this project was put together for Salinas’s use, the ideas developed in these short
papers will be useful not only for the city of Salinas but also for other cities combating gang
violence.

Contributors

John Arquilla, Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Leo Blanken, Assistant Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Doug Borer, Associate Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Dorothy Denning, Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Sean Everton, Assistant Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Michael Freeman, Assistant Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Brian Greenshields, Senior Lecturer, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Heather Gregg, Assistant Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Rebecca Lorentz, Research Associate, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Gordon McCormick, Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Matthew Peterson, Lieutenant Commander, US Navy, Masters Student in the Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Hy Rothstein, Senior Lecturer, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Kalev Sepp, Senior Lecturer, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Anna Simons, Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
David Tucker, Associate Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Steve Twing, Professor, Department of Political Science, Frostburg State University
Greg Wilson, Colonel, US Army, Special Operations Forces Chair, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/gangs-and-guerrillas

Massachusetts State Police initiated a pilot program during the fall of 2009 at the north end of Springfield Massachusetts. A high crime area of gangs, violence and drugs. Below is the project we initiated. Utilizing the eight COIN principles to combat gangs and drug dealers.

Lessons From the Battlefield: Counter-Insurgency for Domestic Law Enforcement

Springfield, Massachusetts, was ranked the 12th most dangerous city in America and had a rampant gang problem. A rise in crime and gang violence was exacerbated by budgetary restraints on the police force. Massachusetts State Trooper Michael Cutone had recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq where he and Trooper Thomas Sarrouf had played essential roles in a Special Operations mission in the Avghani region of Iraq. In the fall of 2009, Cutone, with the support of his commanders, met with Springfield Police Department Deputy Chief John Barbieri to discuss how the Avghani Counterinsurgency Operations (COIN) model could be adapted to law enforcement operations and integrated into an overall strategy to address the crime problem in the North End. After weeks of planning, a shooting in late October served as the catalyst to begin coordinated law enforcement efforts and the development of the Counter Criminal Continuum (C3) Policing methodology. Drawing upon the principles of community-oriented and intelligence-led policing, integrated with the military counterinsurgency model and lessons learned at Avghani, law enforcement in Springfield has made great inroads over the past year with limited resources.

Following links cover Massachusetts State Police utilizing COIN principles (C3 Policing methods) to combat gangs and drug dealers.

International Association of Chiefs of Police 2011 National Conference at Chicago
http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display...

Westminster Institute Washington D.C.
http://www.westminster-institute.org/announcements/lessons-from-the-batt...

Lessons From the Battlefield: Counter-Insurgency for Domestic Law Enforcement
Presented by Lt. Michael Domnarski and Trooper Michael Cutone Massachusetts State Police

Foreign Law Enforcement utilizing COIN principles would be successful against insurgents (see Avghani model Iraq 2005-06. (US Army Magazine May 2008 issue) http://www.ausa.org/publications/armymagazine/archive/2008/5/Documents/G...

NPR Story: Counter-Insurgency Tactics Used to Reduce Crime in Springfield
Anne Mostue August 22, 2011
Listen now: local-wfcr-982860

SPRINGFIELD, MA (wfcr) – A new way to end violent crime in Springfield seems to be working. In one neighborhood, Massachusetts state police are on the beat alongside city officers. They are using what’s described as “military counterinsurgency tactics.” One state trooper is behind the collaboration. As New England Public Radio’s Anne Mostue reports, he says he saw a new use for skills he learned in the U.S. Army. © Copyright 2011, wfcr

MSP C3 Policing (Massachusetts State Police web site on C3 Policing)
http://mspc3policing.com/

Respectfully,

Tpr. Michael Cutone
Massachusetts State Police
email: Michael.Cutone@pol.state.ma.us

As a 17 year law enforcement officer and 10 years from the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington DC. I currently serve as an Advisor to the Afghan National Police. As a police officer from DC Police, I have a vast experience dealing with community oriented policing (COP). I worked COP for a few years. The strategy for COP is to turn it to intelligence led COP. As you all know, in any counter insurgency the populace is the most important factor in winning the counter insurgency. Therefore, conducting patrols in villages, speaking with the Elders, Mullahs establishing a good rapport with the community is what this is about. Aslo, obtaining sources
because without HUMINT, we can't defeat the insurgency. HUMINT is one of the most important factors in defeating the insurgents.

One must know the police is a community based governemnt entity. Through COP the police can obtain information on the whereabouts of criminals.
On the security side of COIN, COP is easily established. In COIN, as established, the populace is important to turn the tide or just to have them on the side of the gov't. Therefore, COP needs to be built into COIN,
which in my opinion, it alredy is.

The military is unaware about the functions of police officers and police operations. The military needs to understand the ANA is not a community based gov't entity. They don't have that connection with the populace. Furthermore, COP is not the function of the ANA.

You are attempting to teach COP to the ANA in a COIN setting. Let the police do the policing, and let the ANA do military funtions. They should not cross.

Gentlemen, yes we have translated many US doctrinal publications for the ANSF and may have possibly over-engineered many of our higher level educational models for the ANSF. However, at the CTC-A, we have realized this and have made the comparison between COIN and Community Policing very simple.

We have saturated the ANSF and average training over 5000 ANSF per month with anywhere from 2 hours to 5 days. The principles we teach are very simple and necessary for the ANSF to represent the "Host Nation" legitimately. We teach 4 basic classes to as many as possible:

COIN Conduct: how to act on the street and how to interact with the population as a representative of the government. This is absolutley necessary to gain the support of the people for the government.
COIN Framework: In this class we teach them basic Afghan history, which most do not know, of how we got here and how the HN and Insurgents are competing for the strategic sympathies of the population and what players are supporting the HN government efforts to win support. Warlords will not win a country's support, they will dominate areas. Only by instilling a sense of "Nationalism" for a greater good will allow this message to stick. In order to do that the ANSF "foot soldier" must know "why" he is fighting, "What" he is fighting for, and "How" he fits in this picture. This is really what this class teaches him.
COIN Fundamentals: Not the 3-24 or 3-24.2 version, but a simplified version that contains basic principles any soldier can understand.
Insurgent Fundamentals: A basic understanding of the historical principles that insurgents follow. Strategies and dynamics, done in a way that the average ANSF member can understand what Ideology is and how the Narrative of an ideology can be used against their efforts.
In running around this country, teaching ANSF or observing, I have found that most had no idea why they were fighting, that corruption was wrong, or that they were even members of the HN government. This is what we are trying to combat. We can teach them all the combined arms and MAGTF'ery we want, but if they do not realize why they fight, who/what they are fighting for...we are just arming and training better insurgents of the future.

Rest assured our goal has not been to make them COIN SMEs, but rather to teach them the basic principles of how to Clear and area without harming the innocents, how to Hold and area without extorting the local population, and how to Build and area through the HN government and its supporters. If we can get that common message infused into the "Force" we call the ANSF, at least they will serve the greater good in the long run.

"COIN Conduct: how to act on the street and how to interact with the population as a representative of the government. This is absolutley necessary to gain the support of the people for the government.

I take issue with absolute statements- is this the military equivalent of a scientific fact- if you don't interact properly on the street you will not gain the support of the people for the government? Can you act properly and still not gain their support?

COIN Framework: ...Only by instilling a sense of "Nationalism" for a greater good will allow this message to stick. In order to do that the ANSF "foot soldier" must know "why" he is fighting, "What" he is fighting for, and "How" he fits in this picture. This is really what this class teaches him.

Probably beyond the COIN Center- but interesting that we have to do this- inform them why THEY are fighting.

We can teach them all the combined arms and MAGTF'ery we want, but if they do not realize why they fight, who/what they are fighting for...we are just arming and training better insurgents of the future.

Agree with this- but again wondering why we are having to do this. Sounds like the insurgency isn't something we are helping them fight as much as they are helping us fight.

If we can get that common message infused into the "Force" we call the ANSF, at least they will serve the greater good in the long run.

Or at least we assume they will serve a greater good in the long run.

G Martin:

You said this:

"I take issue with absolute statements- is this the military equivalent of a scientific fact- if you don't interact properly on the street you will not gain the support of the people for the government? Can you act properly and still not gain their support?"

Well i think you nailed the problem perfectly and it shows just how dogmatic as an army we have become. Now we treat as fact--to use your word--what is in essence a theoretical proposition: that a military using the methods of pop centric coin can "gain the support" of the population, if only they do coin correctly.

Unfortunately history shows this method of coin to be problematic in many cases and always contingent upon discrete historical conditions and events.

Adding to Don's and ITN's post, at least for the Afghan army, why dont we train it to be first a combined arms fighting army instead of immediately going to a focus on Coin? After all the most adaptable armies are those which are grounded in combined arms and can fight. Those kinds of armies develop units with discipline and cohesion and from that adaptability to whatever confronts them. Since FM 3-24 and the American coin movement has convinced folks in certain quarters that it is the "graduate level of war" we seem to be making the mistake of putting the cart before the horse. Or in another words perhaps we have got the whole construct wrong for the Afghan Army. Anyway it is much easier to teach leaders to drink tea with sheiks and imams and "connect with the population" than it is to teach them how to coordinate combat functions in warfare.

Gian,

Better question is "why build an Afghan Army at all." Seriously, the informal militia of Afghanistan has been adequate to the task of dealing with the most powerful external threats the world could throw at them, defeating British, Russian and American armies and sending all packing in turn.

The only purpose for a national army made up almost entirely of Northern Alliance popualce groups is to go out into the countryside as an agent of the current Northern Alliance-based government and work to force the remainder of the populace to submit to their rule. This is the task that ISAF dedicates itself to. We seek to improve the capacity of the Sheriff of Nottingham in order to keep the rule of Prince John in power. We do this because we think "John" is the best answer to our own interests in this region. Such dark age mentality worked well up to about 150 years ago, but has been fading fast ever since the Brits connected the corners of the globe with their system of telegraph cables. Yet we cling to this mentality in our governmental and military doctrine.

A "well regulated militia" is much more what the people of Afghanistan need for their national, as well as local, security; but as Bacon points out, such a security force scares the crap out of Mr. Karzai. It scares the crap out of US leaders as well. Mr. Karzai has good reason to fear such a force, our own fears, however, are irrational.

Warlords possessed true legitimacy (of the form that matters) as the populaces subjected to their rule fully appreciated exactly why such men were in power. They might not like it, but they understand it. Such warlords built only the degree of security necessary to their mission and within their personal budgets. A very effective and sustainable model, but certainly not "well regulated." Perhaps most importantly, warlords only owe patronage downward, to the people they serve, and not upward to some President who appointed them. Instead of imposing modern, Cold War shaped US military perceptions on the need for a large regular army as the solution to this unruly warlord militia system, we should have looked to historic models more in line with Afghan culture, history and requirements.

GIRoA has effectively played upon Western fears, ignorance and naivet'e. They formed a constitution that turned traditional Afghan patronage on its ear, and effectively poured steroids into traditional 'corruption' with its centralized, top-down scheme. By then disbanding all local security in favor of an eqally top-controlled national system, the protection of this travesty of governance was ensured. We jumped on board armed with our own fears and bias and set out to make this Northern Alliance monopoly a reality. We set out to create the forcing function necessary to sustain it. We then took on the lead of going out into the popualce and forcing their submission to the same.

Can any of us imagine a world where we only voted for the President (in an election process foreign to us, and widely believed to be controlled by some foreign power); and then if that President appointed for us from his cronies our State, County and major city leadership? Can we imagine a world where our local police, county sheriff, and state troupers and national guard were all disbanded and replaced with a national police force and military that answered only to this suspect national leader?? A land where foreign armies patrolled our roads, attacked our homes, and mentored our governmental leaders at every level?? This is the world we enabled, protect, and dedicate ourselves to imposing upon the poeple of Afghanistan. Little wonder they resist.

Is local policing a good idea? Ceratainly. Does Karzai hate it? Absolutely. Will it somehow overcome all of the badness codifed in the current constitution and governance of Afghanistan? NO WAY. This is not a problem created from the bottom up, and it is not a problem that can be solved from the bottom up. The roots of this problem are at the very top. The very creation, design and purpose of government in Afghanistan is the primary cause of insurgency in Afghanistan. Our belief that if we help this system prevail we "win" is indicative of our lack of understanding of such conflicts.

A win in insurgency is not when the insurgent prevails. A win in COIN is not when the government effectively defeats the insurgent. A true win is when overall perceptions of governance and opportunity improve across the affected populace. This is rarely met by either the insurgent or the government as designed at the outset prevailing and enforcing the status quo or forcing some radical change.

We need to change our defintion of "winning the current fight" to one of how we facilitate such changes conditions so as to improve and expand these perceptions of governance and opportunity across the populace. Enabling a GIRoA victory that excludes all non-GIRoA influence is not the answer. We have lost our way.

Mr. Jones:

You state "Warlords possessed true legitimacy (of the form that matters) as the populaces subjected to their rule fully appreciated exactly why such men were in power. They might not like it, but they understand it. Such warlords built only the degree of security necessary to their mission and within their personal budgets. A very effective and sustainable model, but certainly not "well regulated."

Warlords and their behavior were the thing that disgusted the Afghans to the point that very many were happy to see the arrival of Taliban & Co. when they first showed up. And that made the victory of Taliban. The warlords got kicked out and people were relieved until they had experience with Taliban rule then they weren't so relieved anymore. Warlords were legitimate only in the sense that local bandits are legitimate and they didn't sustain their rule very long. The only thing the warlord model effectively sustains is murderous chaos.

Carl,

I didn't say warlords were/are good or popular, I said they possess a legitimacy understood by the populaces they affect. The same cannot be said for GIRoA outside of Northern Alliance and external Western circles.

Nor do I promote warlordism as a cure to Afghanistan's problems, rather I suggest to build upon the legitimacy and effectiveness of historic systems when building future ones designed to address the negative aspects you (overstate) and point out.

Everything we do is not inherently good, all that others we oppose do is not inherently bad. At the end of the day Afghanistan needs a solution of, by and for ALL Afghans. They are not getting that today, and the Army that we work so hard to build and train has little purpose other than to ensure that current program of governance survives as is. It is a tool of government of, by and for one segment of the populace to employ to subjugate other segments of the populace to their rule; a rule enabled and protected for the past 10 years by the US and our allies.

So yes, I think District and Provincial governors selected by the shuras of the Districts and Provinces they represent and possessing local legitimacy are better than governors appointed by Mr. Karzai from among his friends and family and lacking local legitmacy. I also believe that a well regulated militia recruited, trained and employed locally by such governors is more appropriate to Afghanistan's security requirements than a centralized Army made up of the Northern Alliance and sent out by Mr. Karzai to force the populace to accept the governors and governance he sends them. My opinion; I believe it is both informed and reasonable.

Bob:

Yes, excellent question, i was only trying to think "out of the coin box", if you know what I mean, by considering otherwise options. Your point makes perfect sense based on the society and history of the place. My point is how American coin has straightjacketed us to the point where we automatically say well yes of course Afghanistan needs and army and therefore it must be an American-style coin trained army, in our image. Gosh the irony here drips in that it is the coin experts who continually bash the American Army in Vietnam for building an ARVN that looked like it in conventional terms and not a coin optimized force. Now it seems we are doing the same thing in Afghanistan, make their Army look just like us.

But you provide what seems to me to be a creative solution and not what the German army in the 1920s and 30s used to deride as "schematic-thinking," or thinking contained by a box of rules and methods.

Gian:

You ask "...at least for the Afghan army, why dont we train it to be first a combined arms fighting army instead of immediately going to a focus on Coin?"

Some of the reasons this forever a civilian can think of are, their enemy so far is composed exclusively of light infantry so it may be a waste of effort develop anything beyond that needed to defeat light infantry. A combined arms force would be rather expensive and they couldn't pay for it. It would take a very long time to develop a proficient combined arms force. The threat is an immediate and they can't afford to be distracted by trying to imitate the American way of war on a reduced scale. Even if they did it perfectly and we paid for it given the state of the Afghan economy, they will never be able to beat Iran or Pakistan in any kind of conventional fight so why bother?

I think you are the one putting the cart before the horse. A proficient combined arms force is made by proficient leaders. Proficient leaders aren't made by the combined arms force. It would seem more logical to put maximum effort into developing good Afghan leaders to the extent we can. That would do more to defeat the immediate threat than anything.

Although I agree with Gian that focusing the Afghans on COIN (our version of it, btw...) is wrong-headed, I take issue with both turning them into a conventional force (if that means a carbon copy of us) and the ideas that we should develop good leaders, train them to fight light infantry, or that we aren't already trying to turn them into an expensive conventional force along the lines of ourselves.

Regardless of what we say and teach in the COIN Center- the force structure, basic training, advisory efforts, equipping, and enablers provide proof we are building a conventional force- which they won't be able to afford, which won't be effective against their real threats, but it is what we know and they want. Now, to be fair- we do teach them both in the COIN Center and in our advisory efforts to be good "Coindinistas"- loving the people, giving them largess and governance, but I haven't talked to any Afghan generals who have bought into our theory on COIN.

Instead of building a conventional force or a COIN force- I would recommend we train and structure them to be a UW force- for two reasons: 1) regardless of our doctrinal definitions- the ANA and ANP in the majority of the areas they operate in are the insurgent entity attempting to force an alien culture on the locals- and the insurgents are the de facto legitimate government; and, 2) if the Afghan government is overthrown due to an end to U.S. funding and support (Vietnam, anyone?), they would be in a better position to resist.

As far as developing good leaders- I don't think that is a panacea to the complexity that is Afghanistan and I think it is easier said than done- especially us trying to do it. But- make no mistake, we are using our own institutional Professional Military Education example to try to make it happen.

INT, me too and agree. My initial quick suggestion was really nothing more than trying to inject some otherwise thinking into the stock Coin method of which again we seem to by trapped by.

What Bob's and your post make clear is the need to structure a security force that fits the needs of the place, and not our own american-centric view of what we think they need.

gian

The ANA and ANP effort is now being upset by Petraeus's ALP which harms the populace and destroys national legitimacy.

US report says confusion, graft harm Afghan guard scheme
KABUL, Dec 17 (Reuters) - A scheme that pays and arms Afghans to defend their villages against insurgents is being hindered by corruption and the difficulty of distinguishing the guards from other armed groups, a U.S. military report has said. The Afghan Local Police (ALP) units were a flagship project of U.S. General David Petraeus, who stepped down as commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan earlier this year, but they have been criticised by rights groups, including in a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report in September.

President Karzai doesn't like it.

Nato is reviewing the activities of an irregular police force set up to bolster security mainly in the troubled north, the alliance said on Tuesday, following a call by the Afghan government that it be disbanded.

Of course Karzai doesn't like a lot of other things the U.S. does also, like night raids and drone attacks, but who's he -- only the president of the "Host Nation."

"The ANA and ANP effort is now being upset by Petraeus's ALP which harms the populace and destroys national legitimacy.

Or (or "and"), the COIN effort- to include ALP- is being upset by ISAF's ANA and ANP and all other centralized/nationalized forces/efforts... ??
.
.
The problem with the principles is that they rest on Western/U.S. assumptions about COIN that are either hard to prove/can be disproven/or are seriously being undermined by our experiences in Afghanistan. A few examples:

Collaborative effort between police and citizens/other agencies

Sometimes in unstable areas, competing agencies support stability efforts better than collaboration.

Legitimacy is the main objective in COIN, reinforced by security under the rule of law

Unfortunately, to label something as a main objective or a center of gravity in a complex environment is too simplistic and lends ones' efforts to a singlemindedness that ignores requirements for a nuanced approach. In Afghanistan there is- among other things- a regional struggle going on. Very few of the regional proxies are fighting for legitimacy- and yet they are arguably making more progress towards their objectives than we are. If we are really trying to gain legitimacy of the Pashtuns- we can't be naive about the issues that raises for Hazaras, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and any proxies that happen to be against a Pashtun perception of legitimacy.

Conduct population-centric operations in order to gain legitimacy

This concept has been- IMO- capably disparaged on this forum for awhile now. For just one example- it would have made no sense for the British to be "population-centric" in the Carolinas during the Revolutionary War- the population wasn't threatened by the insurgents nor did they need anything from the British. Following our line of thinking today, the British would have busied themselves catering to the colonists- to the delight of the insurgents I would imagine.

Provide skills and knowledge to support community initiatives

This presupposes we have the skills and knowledge to do so. Terribly bureaucratic and cultural hubris IMO.

Political factors are primary; evaluate how operations strengthen the host nation

Assumes ops do strengthen- why not ask "if" instead of "how"?

Ongoing commitment to develop proactive strategies and programs to address the underlying conditions that cause community problems

Really difficult- if not impossible- to get at underlying conditions, and hubristic to think we would be the best candidate to do that and/or do anything about it even if we could identify the conditions.

Elements must learn and adapt quickly in the COIN environment, consistently addressing the grievances of the population

Again- sometimes addressing grievances gets one in more strategic trouble than it is worth- but, more importantly, many times is counterproductive to our interests and a sensical strategy.

Addressing the root-cause of problems for long term solutions

Same problem as the "underlying" problem issue. Complex environments do not lend themselves to root-cause explanations very well- thus the term "complex".
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It is too bad we have adopted the "surge"/"3-24" narrative as Gian Gentile aptly describes, as it has given us a sense of authority to apply false principles supposedly "learned" that were successful in all (according to Rand) counterinsurgencies that matter. If Iraq didn't have that narrative for us we could perhaps take a critical look at Afghanistan without a template obstructing a more objective approach.