Small Wars Journal

Next COIN Manual Tries to Take Commanders Beyond Iraq, Afghanistan

Next COIN Manual Tries to Take Commanders Beyond Iraq, Afghanistan by Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes

Lessons learned the hard way in Afghanistan and Iraq are part of a new U.S. Army and Marine Corps’ counterinsurgency field manual that emphasizes how to prevent insurgencies as well as fight them.

Due for release next month, the document updates a 2006 version of the manual developed by David Petraeus, retired Army general and former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unlike the old manual, which laid out the tactics that Petraeus implemented with some success in Iraq, the new one will give soldiers COIN tools that can be used anywhere in the world, according to Clint Ancker, director of the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

“The previous manual had a lot about tribal politics,” he said. “This takes a much broader approach.”

The new manual is focused on future insurgencies, Ancker said…

Read on.

Comments

Bwilliams

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 4:34pm

I can provide an update to the status of FM 3-24 for those that are interested. The document is ready to go to the Training Support Center. They will catalogue the publication. From there, it will go to the Army Publication Directorate and they will publish the new version. Being optimistic, it should be published in two to three weeks.

The handwriting that would appear to be on the wall -- re: American foreign policy generally and counterinsurgency specifically -- is that:

a. "Universal values" do not exist and that, therefore,

b. It is unwise to seek transformation of outlying states and societies (more along modern western lines) via (1) a military effort and/or (2) regime change.

As we have learned recently (and because of the lack of universal values), such efforts are as likely -- or more likely -- to result in states and societies that divide, disintegrate, fall into chaos and/or adopt ways of life and ways of governance that are even more detrimental to US interests.

Thus, we believe that it is much better (and much cheaper re: blood and other treasure):

a. To keep the states that we currently have in the world,

b. To keep the governors/governments of these states; specifically, those who have shown that they have the power and ability to hold their states (by whatever means) together and

c. To use our instruments of power and persuasion (which have proven to be more effective against rulers rather than against populations) to cause these governors, themselves, to transform their states and societies as we desire.

Herein, the models that are looked to are not (for obvious reason) Iraq, Afghanistan and/or Libya but, rather, China and Russia; wherein, (1) strong central governments with (2) a history of acceptance/legitimacy, (3) held their populations in check while, (4) transforming their states and societies more along modern western lines. (These, obviously, being incomplete and ongoing transitions.)

(From a counter-insurgency perspective, the governors/governments of the Philippines and Colombia "fitting the bill" outlined immediately above?)

Under no circumstances, however, should we believe that political objective of the United States has changed. We still intend to transform outlying states and societies more along modern western lines.

What has changed -- as is noted above -- are the ways and means by which the United States will seek to achieve it political objective; this now being "with and through" other governors/governments.

So now, as in the days of the Cold War, our objective will be pursued with and through existing governors/governments; however odious and oppressive (of necessity?) these governors/governments may be.

This major change (which one might term and characterize as "Back to the Future?"), I believe, is what we must look for in the new national security strategy and in the new counterinsurgency manual.

And this major change being necessitated due to the now-acknowledged fallacy re: "universal values."

"However, David Johnson, a former Army lieutenant colonel who is executive director of the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington, said there’s debate over whether a counter-insurgency manual has any place in the thought process of a non-empire or colony-holding power."

The more appropriate, more specific and more critical question would seem to be:

Does a counter-insurgency manual have any place in the thought process of a foreign power that is determined to "develop" outlying states and societies more along its (the foreign power's) political, economic and social lines?

These such "development" initiatives -- re: this foreign power and these other states and societies -- still being seen as absolutely necessary to the safety, security and prosperity of the foreign power.

Thus:

a. If one is going to continue to work, in whatever way (for example: with and through "friendly" governments), to undermine, eliminate and replace the ways of life and ways of governance of other states and societies (this, I suggest, is what "development" is all about),

b. Then one must expect that insurgencies will (continue to) be a fact of life.

Herein, consider the following:

“If a … government refuses to address the legitimate concerns of their people … there may be nothing that a U.S. effort can or should do to ensure the survival of the government.”

Thus:

a. Should a "friendly" local government fail to address the legitimate concerns of their people, to wit: that they do not wish to see their way of life and way of governance, via "development," be undermined, eliminated and replaced with western models,

b. Then there may be little that the West can do (short of a significant counterinsurgency effort) to ensure the survival of such a "friendly" local government.

To conclude:

JP 3-24, released just this past December, continued to emphasize the requirement to "develop" outlying states and societies.

What does that tell us?

So: Under what category do we file our continuing "development" (and, therefore, continuing "counterinsurgency") initiatives?

Under "empire" or "colony-holding?"

G Martin

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 12:54am

The problem with "lessons learned" from Afghanistan (and even Iraq) is that we haven't agreed on those lessons yet- much less identified them. The ones codified in doctrine were agreed upon through consensus, general officer influence and no willingness to rock any boats. COIN (contemporary U.S. military COIN theory, that is) has a constituency now with stakeholders that must be fed. And it seems to fit contemporary U.S. sensibilities. Too bad warfare doesn't really care what we think it should be.

Dave Maxwell

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 9:09pm

I was going to say I would be happy if there was at least a reference to FID in the manual but I am pleasantly surprised to see Dave Johnson talk about counter-unconventional warfare.

QUOTE However, David Johnson, a former Army lieutenant colonel who is executive director of the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington, said there’s debate over whether a counter-insurgency manual has any place in the thought process of a non-empire or colony-holding power.

“A more useful military manual might be one that addresses ‘Counter-Unconventional Warfare,’” he said. “This would focus legitimate efforts to stop a foreign-sponsored insurgency in a friendly nation.”

COIN in other countries isn’t America’s job, said Johnson, who warned that U.S. support for a government engaged in such a conflict might undermine its standing in the eyes of its people.

“If a … government refuses to address the legitimate concerns of their people … there may be nothing a U.S. effort can or should do to ensure the survival of the government.” END QUOTE