Small Wars Journal

A Battalion's Employment of "The Elements of National Power"

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A Battalion's Employment of "The Elements of National Power"

by LtCol Robert R. Scott

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"The motive in small wars is not material destruction. It is usually a project dealing with the social, economic, and political development of the people. It is of primary importance that the fullest benefit be derived from the psychological aspects of the situation."

-- The Small Wars Manual

The first 90 days in theater for any battalion are a steep learning curve. For 2D Battalion, 3D Marines (TF KOA) this learning curve occurred in Afghanistan during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM VI. What we learned outside of the tactical and operational lessons that every unit learns in its first few weeks in country is that most Afghans simply want what every parent of citizen wants for their family or themselves. Safety, the opportunity to work and provide for their family, and in most cases transparency from their elected leaders. However, the reason for their humiliation and how that has turned into anger is best captured in a paragraph written by Thomas Friedman. "This humiliation is the key. It has always been my view that terrorism is not spawned by the poverty of money. It is spawned by the poverty of dignity.....When you take the economic and political backwa...of much of the Arab-Muslim world today, add its past grandeur and self-image religious superiority, and combine it with the discrimination and alienation these Arab-Muslim males have one powerful cocktail of rage." That "cocktail of rage" is manipulated by Imams and insurgency leaders for their own ends and a heavy handed approach by Coalition Forces (CF) 100% of the time will guarantee failure 100% of the time.

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