Small Wars Journal

Undermanned, Overwhelmed

Undermanned, Overwhelmed by Dan Green Armed Forces Journal. BLUF: "Much of our approach to stability operations has been about doing what our bureaucracies are comfortable with rather than dealing with the problem of insurgency on its own terms. A significant portion of our approach is capital-centric, biased toward formal government institutions, focused on long-term development versus stabilization and imperfectly partnered with the U.S. military."


Tyler Sweatt (not verified)

Tue, 03/08/2011 - 11:19am

I know we talked about this back in May when the articles came out, but this gets at the discussion of USAID vs. DoD in terms of development and economic growth etc.

Not saying I support it, just thought it was relevant to both comments.


G Martin

Tue, 03/08/2011 - 11:04am

So, maybe we'd simply have to re-org:

1) CFSOCC takes over ISAF.
2) NTM-A is limited to advising the ministries.
3) IJC is taken over by ISAF-SOF.

4) Most conventional forces conducting offensive ops go home, others support CFSOCC/ISAF-SOF/Afghan units' ops.
5) All training is taken over by CFSOCC/ISAF-SOF/Afghan units- supported by conventional NATO forces as needed.
6) logistics are handled by the Afghans, supported where needed by NATO forces (conventional and SOF).

7) Get military forces out of development and governance efforts- except by exception and approval by USAID/GIRoA.


Bob's World

Mon, 03/07/2011 - 8:04am

No structure, regardless of how grand the plan or how much work is put into the construction, can ever exceed the limitations of the foundation.

The foundation for the Afghan state is their constitution. This shallow, rotten, fatally flawed base can only support shaky, ineffective structures.

US AID has the right idea, build for the long term, their mission did not begin and will not end with the insurgency. The Military has no longterm goal, other than to accmplish the mission and go home, so their focus is on the near term.

But we have made the fatal mistake of creating a military led approach to COIN. (A convenient aspect of Galula's advice to ignore, perhaps?) Military COIN is great at going after threats. It is even great as employing development so as to go after threats. But military COIN is very bad at taking the host nation government to task to engage the core of the causal problems driving the insurgency.

Instead the military has built a functional sanctuary around GIRoA in their own minds; and then rationalized that since we can't fix the top we will fix the bottom. We cannot work through GIRoA, so we will work around GIRoA While logical in a certain light, such an approach is actually counterproductive as the harder one works at such approaches, the the more glaring the failures of governance appear.

A hard pill for the military to swallow may well be that USAID is far more experienced, orgainized, and trained for true COIN than the military ever will or should be. The best COIN is accomplished long before the first shot is fired, and that is right in AID's wheelhouse. But AID is being torn in two over this current, miltitary led charge to achieve temporary effects in critical spots to support short-term military operations, and to abandon or compromise the principles that they have built their organization on through some 50 years of global COIN work.

US AID and US Special Forces were both cut from the same bolt of cloth in the early 60s by President Kennedy to work the early aspects of COIN around the fringes in efforts to prevent conflicts from emerging. Thus freeing up the larger military to focus on the deterrence of the primary Soviet threat to our nation.

My advice, instead of corrupting US AID and US Special Forces to be more like the conventional force and to abandaon 50 years of lessons learned to follow the conventional force and 5 years of lessons learned, we should probably flip that equation around.

Let the experts on COIN lead, and those experts are not in the conventional force, and those lessons are not captured in FM 3-24. Just a thought.