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by Major Niel Smith
In the eight years since the invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has failed to integrate counterinsurgency (COIN) into Professional Military Education (PME). Counterinsurgency instruction remains uneven in quantity and quality throughout Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) institutions, which have failed to define standards, competencies and outcomes for COIN education. This lack of consistency contributes to ongoing operational confusion and poor execution of operations in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom due to lack of common concept of what counterinsurgency is and what it entails, despite great advances in COIN application and execution by troops in the field.
Integrating COIN into PME is crucial for improving the ability of the Army to wage our current wars. Ideally, two officers or NCO's educated at differing TRADOC schoolhouses should emerge with similar skills and knowledge competencies on doctrine and staff processes. This synchronization is crucial to allowing large staffs with multiple specialties to operate seamlessly using shared understandings of the operational environment. No such standardization exists for the topic of COIN, despite adequate published doctrine and historical military literature.
TRADOC must address this shortcoming in one of its key areas of responsibility. This paper will outline several actions executable within the TRADOC commander's existing authority to address these problems.
Major Niel Smith is a student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He served as operations officer at the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center from 2007 to 2009.