Small Wars Journal

A Lesson About Counterinsurgency That Could Change America’s Future.

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 4:29pm

A Lesson About Counterinsurgency That Could Change America’s Future. By Fabius Maximus.

As we move forward to a new round of interventions let’s take a moment to look backwards. What can we learn from our failed interventions since 9/11, and more generally from the scores of failed counterinsurgency programs waged by foreign armies since WWII (when Mao brought 4GW to maturity)? There is a simple lesson, one that if learned could change our future. But the national defense complex (like Satan, it goes by many names) doesn’t want you to learn it. So you won’t (probably).  {2nd of 2 posts today.}…

Read on.

Comments

Move Forward

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 8:20am

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

Fabius, believe this quote (my bold for emphasis) from the second RAND study’s summary on pages xxviii-xxvix answers your point(s). Thedrosophil, as well, also refuted your primary thesis. Believe it’s time to move on.

<blockquote><strong>Governments Supported by External Actors Win the Same Way Others Do</strong>

We repeated all the analyses for the subset of cases that involved forces from an external major power in support of the government (28 cases). <strong>The findings show that external or externally supported COIN forces win almost as often as wholly indigenous COIN forces.</strong> This suggests that using external forces is not inherently a bad COIN practice. Further, results for cases involving COIN support by external actors match results from the core data; the same concepts whose implementation was correlated with COIN success in the broader data were also correlated with success in the external actor cases.

The external actor analysis raised two cautions. First, as noted previously, commitment and motivation of the government and COIN force are critical to COIN success. This holds in external actor cases as well. No external COIN force or externally supported COIN force was able to prevail if the host-nation government was insufficiently committed. The caution, then, is for would-be external supporters: You can’t want it more than they do!

<strong>Second, every case that involved external professional forces supporting the insurgents was a COIN loss, unless it was balanced by external professional forces supporting the government. This caution applies to those who advocate a “light footprint” in supporting COIN forces or support restricted to advisers, special operations forces, and air power. History suggests that if insurgents have external conventional forces on their side, the COIN force needs such support, too.</strong></blockquote>

Fabius Maximus

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 2:15am

In reply to by Move Forward

Move Forward,

"There actually were two RAND studies that were very similar and both cited numerous instances of external forces supporting both the insurgent and counterinsurgent."

The second RAND study (232 pp) is interesting, but not illuminating on the local/foreign fighter distinction. It's not remotely comparable to the studies I cite focused on this specific question.

The only relevant pages in the 2nd RAND study are in section 4, esp pp 124-126. They only examined 28 cases with a "direct external supporter" ("support" is undefined, but the 5 factors suggest a broad definition).

One of the 5 factors of local/foreign is "indigenous forces conducted the majority of COIN operations" (the other 4 are an odd bag). They don't say how many of these 28 wars met that criteria, but it was clearly a *small* fraction of the several score such conflicts since WWII. They don't specify the nations' scoring, so we cannot determine if the sample is representative, or how the scoring was done.

Also, the definition of "win" is eccentric. Insurgencies fight colonial rulers to force them out. This RAND study scores as COIN "wins" outcomes where the colonial power left during or immediately after the war (e.g., Kenya). In the real world (if not in DOD-funded studies) who has the land at the end determines the score.

Move Forward

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 2:31pm

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

<blockquote>Second, I gave examples showing that specific commenters were unable to accurately state the simple point made in that post about the success rate of foreign insurgencies. I also cited the comments about the RAND study given as rebuttal, which in fact evaluated an issue totally unrelated <strong>(i.e., most of the conflicts studied were local governments vs local insurgencies, with little or no foreign fighters).</strong></blockquote>

The part in bold above is simply incorrect. There actually were two RAND studies that were very similar and both cited numerous instances of external forces supporting both the insurgent and counterinsurgent. The study we already discussed came earlier in 2010, and this one came later with 59 insurgencies studied instead of just 30, with the same best and worst practices analyzed.

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/lessons-from-modern-insurgencies

The same analysts were involved in both studies with Molly Dunigan added to this one. To prove to you that it is nothing personal, my comment about this study is it at the very bottom as the first to comment. Since both studies came in 2010 as opposed to 2008, you might conclude they have updated relevance in this discussion.

As for your oft mentioned exchange between Colonels about Vietnam (largely irrelevant since we no longer were there in 1975 or were permitted to assist the South) here is a similarly often cited quote that responds to current strategies where bombing is seen as the primary solution:

<blockquote>Americans in 1950 rediscovered something that since Hiroshima they had forgotten: you may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life—but if you desire to defend it, protect it and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men in the mud. ”

― T.R. Fehrenbach </blockquote>

So if bombing alone won’t suffice, and recent history shows that putting inadequate numbers of young men in the mud isn’t enough, what does that leave? It means what works is good-old forward-deployed ground deterrence, and if that fails offensive, defensive, and stability operations by massed preferably Coalition and Joint forces followed by an effective transition to host nation forces.

Your earlier comments also seemed to differentiate between foreign forces fighting versus supporting. Obviously, most host nations and militias fighting insurgencies lack key capacities when it comes to intelligence, logistics, indirect fire, air support, communication, “NCO and officer” leadership, and medical support. There is much more to external support by outsiders than ground “fighting.” Plus, both these RAND studies illustrate that if we don’t support host nations, other interested outsiders most certainly will support the insurgent.

In this linked study, it mentions that NATO got involved in Bosnia when genocide reached 8,000 with 25-30,000 refugees. Likewise Croatia and Kosovo were mentioned with external forces supporting local fighters. How badly does that reflect on our current leadership that Syrian deaths have reached 200,000 and refugees some 3.9 million while we did and do virtually nothing to stop that slaughter. When internal population militias and bombing alone aren’t enough to fix that scale of problem, what other alternatives do you have?

To quote General Breedlove elsewhere in the Ukrainian context, “We, I think, in the West, should consider all of our tools in reply. Could it be destabilizing? The answer is yes. Also, inaction could be destabilizing.” External parties that inadequately gets involved in conflicts that affect their national interests seldom influence the results in a manner they would prefer.

Fabius Maximus

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 1:05am

In reply to by thedrosophil

thedrosophil,

"that none of us have bothered to read your article"

First, I didn't say "none" read. Some obviously did.

Second, I gave examples showing that specific commenters were unable to accurately state the simple point made in that post about the success rate of foreign insurgencies. I also cited the comments about the RAND study given as rebuttal, which in fact evaluated an issue totally unrelated (i.e., most of the conflicts studied were local governments vs local insurgencies, with little or no foreign fighters).

Most of the rebuttals were irrelevant to the issues discussed in my post. They read as if written in response to the title, or to some different article.

Facts are facts.

"quote your own words"

I see only 4 quotes from the post in this 12 thousand word thread. It would have been more useful if the rebuttals *had addressed* direct quotes. As I repeatedly noted, most were to other issues entirely, or to things I didn't say.

"just too stupid and stubborn to accept all of your brilliant ideas?"

Not "my ideas", as shown by the citations I give in support. As for "why", that's a question over my pay grade.

thedrosophil

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 7:22pm

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

I read all of your posts, and I read all of Move Forward's posts. I recommend that you do the same, because you're making assertions that several of us agree to be unsupported by the available evidence, and you're trying to claim that we're misrepresenting your schizophrenic article despite the fact that we're quoting you directly. You're claiming that <I>we're</I> the ones failing to learn, and that <I>we're</I> the ones failing to discuss it, despite the fact that you appear to be categorically unable to refute any of the challenges we're raising in a well informed discussion. I'm confident that we're not the problem here, sir.

<B>Edit:</B> And I hate to make this personal, FM, but you're being awfully condescending. What do you expect us all to believe, that none of us have bothered to read your article or your comments when we know that we have, and are quoting your own words accordingly? And that we're just too stupid and stubborn to accept all of your brilliant ideas? Or should we conclude, instead, that your thesis has been so poorly supported that you've unified a bunch of COIN junkies who rarely agree on anything in their dismissal of its merits? I have a master's degree in strategy from a distinguished foreign university, and I did my dissertation on a virtually ignored COIN campaign in which foreign counterinsurgents were critical to the campaign's success. I'm reasonably confident that my reading comprehension and capacity to consider opposing views isn't what's at issue here.

Fabius Maximus

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 5:22pm

In reply to by thedrosophil

Thedrosphil,

Thank you for the explanation. I see that you too didn't read the post.

The blindness to this simple fact about the success rate of foreigners doing COIN -- an unwillingness to even discuss it -- is really sad. But it's a clear view in miniature of why we keep failing at COIN.

thedrosophil

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 5:09pm

In reply to by Move Forward

Fabius Maximus: This is the kind of analysis I'm talking about. First and foremost, the list in this particular RAND study suggests that the "virtually zero" success rate that you've repeatedly touted is not accurate - 27.5% (8/22) is certainly not "virtually zero", and this list omits several other campaigns successful (and unsuccessful) campaigns since the Second World War. Second, it evaluates the successes and failures to produce some actual factors that correlate to success versus failure. Such studies are a much better use of one's time than the oversimplification of "foreign COIN forces always lose".

Move Forward:

<BLOCKQUOTE>In addition, it cannot be overemphasized that the scale and scope of a COIN conflict involving far larger land masses and populations is not the same challenge as ones involving smaller areas and insurgent populations such as Northern Ireland, El Salvador, Philippines, and Dhofar. When the counterinsurgent must move supplies and personnel long distances from the sea to forward bases, a larger logistics force is essential. Likewise, if insurgents can mass suddenly and overwhelm platoon-sized or A-Team-like elements performing wide area security, some sort of indirect fire and CAS/attack helicopter CCA/aerial troop air assault QRF must be within range to react rapidly. That invariably requires a larger ground footprint.</BLOCKQUOTE>

While your entire response to FM was spot on, I wanted to highlight this particular observation for all concerned. Two COIN best practice that the recent campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have virtually ignored have been the ratio of counterinsurgents to insurgents, and sensible logistics. In the former case, combat units have been undermanned or tasked with controlling territory in excess of their capacity while central and regional headquarters' have swelled with multiple echelons of redundant staffs producing trivial reports or analyzing redundant ISR data. Those staffs typically enjoy MWR provisions that would have been unthinkable in some of those successful campaigns of which we speak. Unsurprisingly, my case study of choice remains the Dhofar Rebellion, the entire campaign of which probably equates best with a province-level operation. In Dhofar, all field units lived in conditions comparable to those of the local populace (which were, in many cases, more austere than those of Afghans today), and the headquarters element in Salalah were miniscule and luddite by today's standards, and yet the campaign's success was unmitigated despite substantial hurdles. If Western forces expect to prevail with more frequency than they have in the last fifteen years, these self-imposed hurdles must be overcome. First, Western forces must find a more realistic balance between the units that engage actively on the ground with insurgents, host nation security forces, and/or the host nation populace; and the rear echelon "support" units/staff elements that are meant to act as force multipliers. Second, those forces that are absolutely necessary for either warfighting or support functions must "live within their means", so to speak - both to make the logistical requirements more sustainable (to include the CAS and other requirements noted above), and to prevent the appearance of what FM 3-24 referred to as "unduly luxurious living".

Move Forward

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 2:53pm

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

Fabius, believe you are citing the wrong RAND report. In 2010, RAND's Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, and Beth Grill published "Victory has a Thousand Fathers: Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency."

http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG964.html

In the monograph, RAND evaluated 30 recent counterinsurgencies with 22 "losses" (more on that at end) and just 8 wins using groups of best and worst practices. On page xx of their Summary they break these practices down. COIN wins were strongly supported by the following factors, many of which are only possible with large COIN forces (not just SF/SOF and airpower):

* Development
* Pacification
* Legitimacy (government)
* Cost-Benefit
* Border Control
* Strategic communication
* COIN FM 3-24 practices
* "Beat cop"
* "Boots on the Ground"
* Tangible Support Reduction (external parties)
* Criticality of intelligence
* Flexibility and adaptability
* Continuation and contestation

The last one indicated that insurgents willing to stick it out were able to defeat the counterinsurgent. It was the sole practice resulting in defeats in every one of 22 cases while the others listed had more wins for the counterinsurgent. The last one would imply that provided the counterinsurgent continues to provide some reduced level of support, victory may result. It doesn't need to be 50,000-100,000 troops and billions of dollars as may be required early in the conflict. But provided some solid support continues, victory may result.

Your point was that external support by others in a coalition resulted in COIN failures. RAND's results indicated that was only true when foreign forces outnumbered host nation forces. Obviously, this provides a strong incentive for rapid training of host nation militaries which in turn requires an early rather than later surge to allow both stability operations and a more rapid transition to native security forces.

If you remain unconvinced that figuring out means to reduce external support is key to COIN wins/losses, consider this quote from the summary under the heading "Tangible Support Trumps Popular Support" on page xxii (although strongly recommend downloading the entire document, not just the summary).

<blockquote>The ability of the insurgents to replenish and obtain personnel, materiel, financing, intelligence, and sanctuary (tangible support) perfectly predicts success or failure in the 30 COIN cases considered here. In all eight cases in which the COIN force prevailed, it also disrupted at least three tangible insurgent support factors, while none of the COIN forces in the 22 losing cases managed to disrupt more than two.</blockquote>

Also note that some of the COIN "losses" involved only mixed results that could still be attributed as better results than doing next to nothing at all (current trend) and losing entirely. In addition, some of the cases such as Bosnia and Kosovo were listed as COIN losses while U.S. and NATO ground and air forces were involved and events actually turned out the way we would have liked. These were not complete successes and involved actions more akin to prolonged peacekeeping with brief airpower successes backed up by ground force (unlike 2011 Libya bombing followed by chaos).

In addition, it cannot be overemphasized that the scale and scope of a COIN conflict involving far larger land masses and populations is not the same challenge as ones involving smaller areas and insurgent populations such as Northern Ireland, El Salvador, Philippines, and Dhofar. When the counterinsurgent must move supplies and personnel long distances from the sea to forward bases, a larger logistics force is essential. Likewise, if insurgents can mass suddenly and overwhelm platoon-sized or A-Team-like elements performing wide area security, some sort of indirect fire and CAS/attack helicopter CCA/aerial troop air assault QRF must be within range to react rapidly. That invariably requires a larger ground footprint.

Fabius Maximus

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 8:28pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill,

You might be correct in your more detailed typology. I would be interested to see analysis of post-WWII insurgencies to test it.

On the other hand, strong research (by RAND, etc) shows that a simple dichotomy has an almost perfect predictive record -- and immediate clear implications for US policy. Perhaps we should act on these findings before exploring the implications of more complex schemas.

At the very least we could stop testing it by failed attempts at counter-insurgencies in foreign lands.

Fabius Maximus noted:

"As a simple dichotomy for analytical purposes, we can say that 4GW’s come in two types, reflecting the degree of involvement of outside interests (obviously there are many other ways to characterize 4GW).

1. Violence between two or more local groups, who can form from any combination of clans, governments, ethnicities, religions, gangs, and tribes.

2. Violence between two or more sides, where at least one is led by foreigners – both comprising, as above, any imaginable combination of factions.

a. 4GW victories by governments are usually of the first kind, local governments fighting insurgencies.

b. After the late 1940’s, western states fighting 4GW’s in other lands – type two wars – usually lost."

Might we consider a somewhat similar -- but also somewhat different -- characterization of Type 1 and Type 2 insurgencies, as indicated below:

Type 1 Insurgencies:

a. If it is one's own government -- one that has some degree of legitimacy -- who has decided that it is time to transform the subject state and its societies more along modern western political, economic and/or social lines,

b. Then, in these instances, the population would seem to be more likely to consider such a initiative as legitimate (think China cir. 1979 and/or Russia cir. 1989) and, therefore, would seem less likely to rebel.

c. In those instances where insurgencies are undertaken anyway -- by those who might disagree with and/or lose power/wealth/prestige under these new arrangements (think certain samurai in Japan cir. 1870) -- then these insurgencies, due to their inherent lack of legitimacy (the domain of the local government in these cases), would seem to be more likely to fail.

Type 2 Insurgencies:

a. If, on the other hand, it is a foreign power -- one that DOES NOT have some degree of legitimacy with the local population -- who (1) decides that it is time to transform a foreign state and its societies along modern western political, economic and/or social lines and (2) invades the country, occupies it and replaces its leaders so as to effect such a transition (think Afghanistan and Iraq cir. 2003).

b. Then the population, in these circumstances, would seem to be more likely to see such a move as illegitimate and, accordingly, (1) to refuse "transformation" and (2) rebel.

c. Thus, it is in these instances -- of foreign invasion, occupation, etc. -- and specifically to transform the subject state and its societies more along the generally foreign and profane lines of another's civilization -- that the "mantel of legitimacy" is seen to be resting on the shoulders of the insurgents. Successful insurgencies, significantly, to be understood in this way.

Fabius Maximus

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 6:19pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw,

This post does not discuss the rights and wrongs of any war, let alone Ukraine. While there is a moral dimension of warfare, sometimes even decisive (e.g., the American Revolution and Civil War), that's not common. More often war doesn't care about such things (i.e., the good guys often lose). More important, this question is quite irrelevant to my post. I have said this several times, and I don't see why you repeat these points.

"exactly why do you think counterinsurgency is effective"

I have said the exact opposite -- with respect to foreign armies (e.g, USA). I have said the opposite at great length, repeatedly.

Thank you for your comments, but there is no point to me responding further to you.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 4:05pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

FM--just a side comment about ethnicity--Putin claims to be defending the Russian speakers in the Ukraine BUT a little known language fact is as follows.

In the whole of the Ukraine there is one group that speaks unspoilt dialect free Russian--Crimea Tartars--ethnic Russians do not.

Kind of like high and low German.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 2:45pm

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

FM--interestng comments as it appears that you have a light touch of the understanding of UW.

Show me the money so to speak--based then on your belief of what insurgency is --then the UW being carried out in the name of Russian speakers first in Crimea and now in eastern Ukraine is again exactly what 1) an insurgency, 2) a war, 3) UW, 4) a walk in the park for fun or 5) none of the above?

Explain then to me exactly how it is that you are not accepting that it is just possible that in fact the Ukraine was a soverighn nation with its own language and own culture prior to 1940, then taken into the German Reich and then only to be "taken" back into another "Reich" called the Soviet Union.

If you are fully aware of history then you do know that Stalin in 1930-33 deliberately starved to death millions of Ukrainians especially in the Donbas region only then to "refill" exactly where the fighting is ongoing with "ethnic Russians" from the Motherland. AND still that did not shift strongly the ethnicity of the region.

Putin stated today "for him Russians and Ukrainians are all Russians"--I am personally not sure 43M Ukrainians after a year of fighting would agree with him--by the way not a so subtle threat he will take all of the Ukraine do you not think as he "views the Ukraine to be Russian"?

By the way your concept of "home court advantage" falls flat for the Ukraine--right now Putin would and does argue there are only miners and truck drivers fighting against the Ukrainian army that started out as a rag tag disoragnized group of people--a thousand kilometer long uncontrolled border and constant weapons and troops and Russian mercenaries flowing across that border daily should have insured a rapid takeover of eastern Ukraine but yet here we are and both the Russian military and mecenaries now total over 42K and yet exactly how much land have their won when they claimed they are "defending fellow Russians"-5% of the Ukrainian land mass.

Approx 14.9K KIAs in both the mercenary and Russian miliary ranks and 2K killed alone in Debaltseve pcoket battle where the Ukrainians were surrounded--and that is "home turf advantage"?

You will then historicaly see the exact same process being carried out by Stalin in the Baltics, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania--a slow but steady "Russianization" --ie deportation of locals to be backfilled by Russians---of the border nations to the Soviet Union.

But history aside--exactly why do you think counterinsurgency is effective or better yet the term COIN is effective and I hope you are not arguing that it has a place in the current world as right now Hezbollah, Hamas, IS, the Russians and even the Chinese have placed their money on UW or some form of guerrilla warfare and yes even the Iraqi insurgents of 2003-2010 were fighting us using guerrilla warfare that is why basically COIN failed.

If you think that COIN was effective really go back and look at the Lines of Engagements by the BCTs and Divisions especailly starting say 2007 to 2010 and you will actually see that by 2010 we were basically into the rebuilding of a country--trash, water, electricity, sewage, schools and rebuilding in general a governmental system.

But were we really successful at eliminating the actual guerrilla facing us from both the Sunni and Shia sides--not really as IS shows us only to well--really go back and read the media reporting from that period-- well worth the effort.

So again explain exactly why you think counerinsurgency is effective against the Russian non linear warfare or the Chinese version of non linear warfare.

Human nature and warfare do by the way have a great deal in common.

Just a side comment--I would actually argue that in say VN starting Tet 68 we were no longer fighting a guerrilla war but a straight forward conventional slug fest and we lost because the US 510K could not match in the end the million plus NVA we were starting to see in 1969.

Fabius Maximus

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 9:05am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw,

(1) To call nation "X" "foreign" when for long periods it has been part of nation "Y" and has almost half its people of "B"'s ethnicity is really missing the point here.

"Foreignness" in this context refers to the strength of the "home court advantage". The more alien is "Y" to "X", the greater the insurgents' home court advantage. Hence the inability of the European nations to hold their colonies, and the failure of US efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(2) Your arguments about the right and wrong of Russian policy are irrelevant to this discussion about the effectiveness of counterinsurgency. Nature and War just doesn't care about such things.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 2:13am

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

FM---herein lies much of the discussion that often gets overlooked.

Your comment on the ethnic Russian question is interesting and is used often in the general media to explain Russian activities and it flies over the reality.

The percentage of ethnic Russians in both the Crimea and eastern Ukraine is simply not the majority of the population --in the east it was barely 43% and in the Crimea 44% out of a 60% that spoke Russian as the Crimea had over 40% of the population in minority groups thus the claim they won with 123% is hard to math wise figure out.

In both the Crimea and eastern Ukraine Russia employed a very effective UW strategy coupled with a heavy informational warfare approach---recent polling in the Crimea now indicates the population while now Russian is having misgivings and now are starting to view themselves again Ukrainian as the effects of informational warfare wears off even in the face of 24 X7 Russian TV.

If one looks at the Putin Doctrine ie I can defend any Russian speaking individual in any country and look at the minorities of Russian speakers in the Balkans, the Baltic, Romania and Bulgaria we will be having this UW problem for the coming years unless it is stopped. In any of these countries the Russian speaking minority does not climb over 23% but still the first informational warfare moves are being made in the Balkans and Baltics.

To argue that COIN is the way forward in such developments fully overlooks that COIN can never counter this current non linear warfare.

AND this is the important takeaway--the current Army training scenarios built on DATE come nowhere close to replicating a single day in eastern Ukraine.

Right now at the German/US JMTC they are practicing attacking an objective and then defending it from counter attacks--not COIN.

Suggest inhaling the CSIS video as it goes into solid detail of what is ongoing in eastern Ukraine almost in real time.

Fabius Maximus

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 6:12pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Russia has used these methods of force -- as have so many before them -- in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, where are large fraction of the population is ethnic Russian.

I don't believe it's accurate to say they have used any form of unconventional warfare in the Baltics. However, these have varying but significant minorities of ethnic Russian. Hence somewhat suitable for the use of these tools.

Also making these low on the scale of "foreignness" is that Russia has a long history of involvement in these regions, with direct ownership for long periods. How the lines are drawn on maps at any point in time is not the key factor.

They have not used unconventional warfare to date successfully on any area outside Russia in which there is no significant Russian population. Hence my comment that all this is consistent with typology of two forms of counterinsurgency.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 4:52pm

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

FM---let's see Russia did not militarily take the Crimea as Putin in his documentary stated this week he directly ordered, Russia did not militarily take eastern Ukraine using the entire list above following their non linear warfare doctrine published in 2013, Russia has not indirectly started using the same tactics in the Baltics and has through the use of dark money influenced six different nationalist/rightist
political groups in six EU countries since 2002 and those exact six countries are voicing that the EU sanctions against Russia not be extended.

And currently there are an estimated 10.4K Russian troops actively inside the Ukraine with over 14.9K killed Russian and mercenary troops.

AND Russian mercenary troops crossed the agreed to ceasefire line today in direct violation to Minsk 2 triggering potentially again the fighting and expansion of Russian controlled Ukrainian territory.

This is not successful right?

#HybridWar in Ukraine: Lessons Learned http://youtube.com/watch?v=8WA1rP5WGfY … pic.twitter.com/rYSiJ6Zesz

Russian non linear eight phases:

The phases of new-generation war can be schematized as (Tchekinov & Bogdanov,
2013, pp. 15-22):
First Phase: non-military asymmetric warfare (encompassing information, moral, psychological, ideological, diplomatic, and economic measures as part of a plan to establish a favorable political, economic, and military setup).

Second Phase: special operations to mislead political and military leaders by coordinated measures carried out by diplomatic channels, media, and top government and military agencies by leaking false data, orders, directives, and instructions.

Third Phase: intimidation, deceiving, and bribing government and military officers, with the objective of making them abandon their service duties.

Fourth Phase: destabilizing propaganda to increase discontent among the population, boosted by the arrival of Russian bands of militants, escalating subversion.

Fifth Phase: establishment of no-fly zones over the country to be attacked, imposition of blockades, and extensive use of private military companies in close cooperation with armed opposition units.

Sixth Phase: commencement of military action, immediately preceded by large-scale reconnaissance and subversive missions. All types, forms, methods, and forces, including special operations forces, space, radio, radio engineering, electronic, diplomatic, and secret service
intelligence, and industrial espionage.

Seventh Phase: combination of targeted information operation, electronic warfare operation,aerospace operation, continuous airforce harassment, combined with the use of highprecision weapons launched from various platforms (long-range artillery, and weapons based
on new physical principles, including microwaves, radiation, non-lethal biological weapons).

Eighth Phase: roll over the remaining points of resistance and destroy surviving enemy units by special operations conducted by reconnaissance units to spot which enemy units have survived and transmit their coordinates to the attacker's missile and artillery units; fire
barrages to annihilate the defender's resisting army units by effective advanced weapons; airdrop operations to surround points of resistance; and territory mopping-up operations by ground troops.

Notice something similar ongoing in eastern Ukraine?

Now again exactly where does COIN fit in as the counter doctrine to the Russian non-linear warfare and we are not even getting into "informational conflict"?

Fabius Maximus

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 1:50pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw,

I don't understand your point.

I believe the record clearly suggests that the odds are low of Russia or China successfully using the non-conventional forces you describe to expand -- or even exercise influence -- in foreign lands.

Your list includes many proven "non-kinetic" methods. Such as sending money, information operations, training and equipping local forces (independent (e.g., mujahideen in Afghanistan) or puppet/proxy armies). Even air support helps sometimes.

Direct military ground action seldom works, no matter how dressed up. Since WWII almost every form has been tried and usually fails. There are few "bright lines" in life -- purely binary, with no grey areas. But this is close.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 12:02pm

With the advent of the new Russian military doctrine "non-linear warfare" the Russian term and our term "hybrid warfare" (really hardcore UW) and the various hybrid warfare doctrines of Iran and China we have long moved past the concept of COIN or anything close to that term.

Right now "non-linear warfare" coupled with "informational conflict" are here to stay and has been and or is currently extremely successful and if the new SOF document on C-UW, UW deterrence, and political warfare is to have any input/influence in the coming discussions around "non-linear warfare" COIN has to be finally buried and a wooden stake driven through it's doctrine.

If one took the time to listen to the hour long CSIS Lesson Learned video on hybrid warfare from their recent experiences in the Ukraine there is nothing in COIN that remotely applies to what the Russians are currently conducting in their non-linear warfare.

Right now the Army is rushing to practice the long lost art of attacking a position and then defending against a counterattack just this week at the German/US JMTC ie the ancient war fighting skills of conventional forces and at the same time defending against SOF attacks in the rear and in built up areas.

The following are elements being seen in the Russian "hybrid army" in eastern Ukraine---and just where then does COIN fit in---it does not.

Russia's 'army' consists of:

1.Cossacks (something in between police and soldiers)
2.conscripts, regular army (similar as with our armies)
3.Chechen mercenaries (lots of them; Kadyrov has something to do with it)
4.other mercenaries (Serbs, we see a lot of Asians)
5.Berkut (former Ukrainian special police)
6.ethnic Russians living in Ukraine who join
7.5th column (locals who work as foreign agents)
8.Russian 'tourists' (nationalists who pretend to be Ukrainians)
9.Real life actors, actresses and figurants (used for their own propaganda or deliberately seeking Western cameras to play their drama and speak their propaganda)
10.Ukrainian soldiers and officers (either deserted from Ukrainian army or still working within the Ukrainian army as traitors/spies).
11.local mafia and criminals given training and arms
12.brainwashed locals (mainly manning checkposts and interviewed by Western media)
13.locals somehow forced to join (mainly of young and very young age, or out of need/money)
14.Russian criminals or 'inmates' given 'amnesty' in exchange for fighting in Ukraine (we have seen many of them already and there is going to be A LOT more of them; see this blog.)
15.Special forces (seldom filmed; used to tip the balance in Russia's favor)
16.FSB/GRU agents (they check and control)
17.Russian generals 'coordinating the ceasefire' on the UKRAINIAN SIDE OF THE FRONTLINE in the JCCC
18.Embedded journalists for creating propaganda (they also get a military training and are called 'our boys')
19.Commanders (command and control is all in Russia's hand)

And lots and lots of "vacationing and contract Russia troops".

This does not include the massive internet troll business based in St. Petersburg.

THEN just to complicate everything the Russian Army actually conducts a military operation today in one of their occupied towns against some of their "own"--go figure.

There is a Russian army operation taking place in #Makeevka today.
Reason unknown.
https://youtu.be/7LR6W-uabsA

2nd video of today's #Russia|n army military operation in #Makiivka
https://youtu.be/AwxMwGCs_TQ
pic.twitter.com/71Hb6l6Vca

#Russia|n army military operation in #Makiivka
Unverified: a Commander was taken by storm by "unknown people"
Vid 3 https://youtu.be/f4nkDB8Ta6A

slapout9

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 6:43pm

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

FabMax,
I agree and it coincides with the fact that in the TV series I mentioned the motor cycle club/gang was started by 9 Vietnam Vets. There is a lot Boydisms in the TV show to. IMO people join movements,gangs,etc. because they have been denied the basic 3 P's of human organization bonding. To protect,provide and procreate. Take one or more of these away from any racial/ethinic group and they will fight!

Fabius Maximus

Sun, 03/15/2015 - 9:34am

In reply to by slapout9

slapout9,

I've been thinking about your fascinating comment. As you note, individuals fight for many reasons. Asking people to risk injury or death requires appealing to several kinds of reasons. You can see that by talking to the young men and women in any army or militia unit of any nation, or to the people of the SWC.

I don't believe we're "learning" this, as social scientists have known that since the dawn of their field centuries ago -- and people writing about war have seen that for millennia (Aristotle wrote about it).

But what's true of the individual is not necessarily so for the tribe, clan, or nation. Getting large numbers of people to work together is never easy, and is almost impossible with some calculation of gain. While there are probably examples where material interests were not a motivation for warfare (broadly defined), I can't think of any. Gain is a factor for the group in wars whether attacking the next tribe for horses, women, or control of waterholes -- or the crusades and jihads that shaped Europe.

Certainly material interests are a factor in the insurgencies that are hitting the corrupt oppressive regimes in the Middle East. They have 4GW and are willing to use it to pursue the rewards of conquest. It's a game for which no angels need apply.

slapout9

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 4:23pm

I watch a TV show called "sons of anarchy" which is a good example of 4gw imo, but there is an interesting quote on one of the grave stones of one of the founding members of the motorcycle club, who also was a Vietnam Vet. It says "we fight because we believe". We are slowly learning or not learning that people fight for a lot of reasons besides so called " interest".

In truth, what we are discussing here is not counterinsurgency, per se, but, rather:

a. Policy.

b. Writ large.

c. And, as the Thomas Jefferson memorandum (referenced in "Weaponizing Anthropology") indicates, of earliest design and pedigree.

http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/jeffersons-confidential-letter…

To wit: A policy to undermine and replace the way of life and way of governance of other individuals and groups -- and other states and societies -- who are not optimally organized, ordered and oriented so as to allow for our greater access to -- and our greater utilization and power and control over -- their human and other resources.

Our foreign and, indeed, our domestic policies -- and the interventions and other activities undertaken in their name (to include such things as "regime change" and "counterinsurgency) -- to be understood in this more comprehensive light.

Thus to consider, for example:

a. Not whether "counterinsurgency" -- undertaken in the name of such a political objective -- has proven to be successful or not. But, rather,

b. Whether the overall effort made to achieve this political objective -- over time and by various means -- has proven to be successful and why.

This such analysis allowing that one might consider approaches OTHER THAN, for example, regime change and counterinsurgency (which seem to have such a poor track record?).

Bottom line:

a. The focus on one of the many possible "servants" of policy (to wit: regime change and counterinsurgency).

b. Rather than a more appropriate focus on the "master" (our enduring political objective of achieving greater power, influence and control over others; this, via the undermining and replacing of their way of life and way of governance).

c. This much more limited analysis (see "a" immediately above) tends to prevent us from looking toward the many other ways and many other means by which we might achieve our such enduring political objective; this, in a more intelligent and more efficient manner.

(Is this not what continuing "failure" -- re: any "method" used and re: any endeavor -- often suggests?)

Fabius Maximus

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 1:55pm

In reply to by thedrosophil

thedrosphil,

"You yourself claim that your article was inspired by Dr. Price's book, and although you only spend one paragraph discussing it directly, its influence is quite obviously interwoven into the rest of your narrative. You made a point of mentioning it in your article, and you made a point of mentioning it in the comment that kicked this thread off. It plays such a central role that I was tempted to believe that you're a paid endorser."

Wow. That's really over the top, and beyond rebuttal. However, I'll explain.

Price gave inspired this post for two reasons. First, I've looked for instances of others discussing the "two kinds of insurgencies", and he gives one from 2008 by a "senior French commander." This insight seems to have appeared from multiple sources in 2008. So I was slightly ahead of the pack, although I suspect there were others before me. That sparked the post discussed here.

Second, I've written quite a bit about the use of social sciences in COIN doctrine and our post-9/11 wars. Price was involved, and has interesting things to say -- which I discussed in the following post.

Your broad claims are wholey unsupported by anything in this text. Further evidence being that this post just summarizes the dozen or so posts I wrote in 2007 and 2008 -- long before reading anything by Price.

"I was tempted to believe that you're a paid endorser."

That's a heavy thing to say with zero evidence, just because I liked his book.

thedrosophil

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 3:20pm

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

<BLOCKQUOTE>True, but at some point repetition becomes folly. Such as today, after scores of attempts since WWII at COIN by foreign armies -- with an almost perfect record of failure.</BLOCKQUOTE>

Okay, then I just plain disagree with you that there's an "almost perfect record of failure" from the "scores of attempts since WWII at COIN by foreign armies". I can point to numerous success stories in several different regional theaters, and I can generally point to cogent reasons why a given COIN effort failed in the remaining cases. Again, this oversimplification of "foreign COIN efforts always fail" is just that, an oversimplification that ignores history.

<BLOCKQUOTE>I've written tens of thousands of words about them. I've written thousands of words about these things at the SWC, mostly supplemental to by posts at the FM website. So "fail to consider them" doesn't seem accurate.

If you have a specific question about these things I can point you to a more detailed discussion.</BLOCKQUOTE>

Having written tens of thousands of words on the topic does not equate to having considered contrary views, which is my entire point. We've been back and forth about three times, now, and I can't even say for a fact that you've seriously evaluated my critiques of your article and/or position. I'm also not confident that you're one of the two authors writing under the pseudonym "Fabius Maximus" whom I'd actually take seriously as a cognizant interlocutor on COIN, so based upon your article and our discussion, I'm not confident that the "more detailed discussion(s)" would actually add any value.

<BLOCKQUOTE>That's missing my point. You said "neither ISAF nor MNF-I ever seriously attempted counterinsurgency in Afghanistan or Iraq". What we did *exactly* meets the DoD definition of counterinsurgency. This seems incontrovertible, imo.</BLOCKQUOTE>

In my younger days, I did a lot of fairly in-depth research into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Without offering up any judgments on the merits of LDS theology, the LDS tradition uses many of the same words as their Protestant or Catholic counterparts (e.g., gospel, god(s), godhead, sacrament, temple), but they mean very different things by them. The DoD can call whatever they want by the umbrella term of "counterinsurgency", but that doesn't mean that the DoD's definition equates to the corpus of knowledge and experience from history's successful and unsuccessful COIN campaigns. I recognize that your argument is that any effort to counter an insurgency is, by definition, "counterinsurgency", but when most commentators discuss "counterinsurgency", they're referring to a particular approach that has recently been labeled "population-centric COIN", and the approach that the DoD (and particularly the Army) have attempted resembles population-centric COIN almost entirely in name only.

<BLOCKQUOTE>As rebuttal you address a quite *different* question: did we apply FM 3-24, a specific methodology of COIN? I agree & have written extensively about this. FM 3-24 was, imo, part of the justification for our expeditions in national-building in Iraq and Afghanistan -- not what we did. In some ways we did the exact opposite (e.g., undercutting the legitimacy of the host nation, not boosting it).</BLOCKQUOTE>

That's not a "quite *different* question". Your thesis, such as it stands, is that foreign forces nearly always fail in counterinsurgency campaigns. Your claim - again, such as it stands - is that the "national defense establishment" has failed to recognize that insurgents enjoy an overwhelming home court advantage against which foreign interventions suffer "an almost perfect record of failure"; although your article presents no real alternatives, the implication is that foreign forces (e.g. the United States) just shouldn't bother. I am presenting an alternative interpretation: there are several relevent, albeit virtually ignored, cases in which foreign COIN efforts have succeeded. In Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, those case studies were ignored (some were ongoing during the Vietnam era), proven best practices were eschewed, and established COIN doctrine was ignored. <I>That</I> is the reason for America's poor performance in Afghanistan and Iraq.

<BLOCKQUOTE>The bottom line: the failure of our efforts, irrespective of the methodology we use, is more evidence about the difficulty foreign armies have doing counterinsurgency.</BLOCKQUOTE>

Not surprisingly, I disagree. The failure of America's efforts is more evidence that irregular campaigns run contrary to the Army's institutional comfort zone, so it only wages it insofar as it thinks it absolutely must. The Air Force is similar because irregular warfare is a ground game, which undermine's the Air Force's claim to offer uniquely decisive capabilities. The Marine Corps is more flexible in this respect, but due to the sheer disparity in manpower and joint force influence between the Corps and the Army, the Marine Corps' capacity to impact these campaigns has been hamstrung.

<BLOCKQUOTE>The post is 1,243 words, of which one paragraph of 77 words "fawn" over his book. The next sentence compares his conclusions to mine (one agrees; one disagrees); the next sentence cities one of his quotes - which I then trace back to its source. That's it.

[...]

As I said, the anthropology vs military debate is irrelevant to this post. It's the subject of the following post, which you might find of interest: "We weaponized anthropology. Why didn’t it work?"</BLOCKQUOTE>

I'm sorry, no. You yourself claim that your article was inspired by Dr. Price's book, and although you only spend one paragraph discussing it directly, its influence is quite obviously interwoven into the rest of your narrative. You made a point of mentioning it in your article, and you made a point of mentioning it in the comment that kicked this thread off. It plays such a central role that I was tempted to believe that you're a paid endorser. You can not claim that a book called "Weaponizing Anthropology" by an obviously anti-military anthropologist was the central inspiration for your article, and then counter-claim that the relationship between anthropology and the military is "irrelevant to this post".

Fabius Maximus

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 1:28pm

In reply to by thedrosophil

thedrosophil,

Thank you for your detailed explanation! Here are a few brief comments.

(1) "I've always thought that this "definition of insanity" cliche was nonsensical, as many successful endeavours require repetition"

True, but at some point repetition becomes folly. Such as today, after scores of attempts since WWII at COIN by foreign armies -- with an almost perfect record of failure.

(2) "your comments imply that you've heard these arguments over and over, but you have failed to consider them. That is what makes your comment frustrating."

I've written tens of thousands of words about them. I've written thousands of words about these things at the SWC, mostly supplemental to by posts at the FM website. So "fail to consider them" doesn't seem accurate.

If you have a specific question about these things I can point you to a more detailed discussion.

(3) "First, it's circular logic to answer a critique of the DoD's implementation of COIN by using a DoD definition of COIN."

That's missing my point. You said "neither ISAF nor MNF-I ever seriously attempted counterinsurgency in Afghanistan or Iraq". What we did *exactly* meets the DoD definition of counterinsurgency. This seems incontrovertible, imo.

As rebuttal you address a quite *different* question: did we apply FM 3-24, a specific methodology of COIN? I agree & have written extensively about this. FM 3-24 was, imo, part of the justification for our expeditions in national-building in Iraq and Afghanistan -- not what we did. In some ways we did the exact opposite (e.g., undercutting the legitimacy of the host nation, not boosting it).

The bottom line: the failure of our efforts, irrespective of the methodology we use, is more evidence about the difficulty foreign armies have doing counterinsurgency.

(4) "There's a difference between brevity and oversimplification."

That's in the eye of the beholder, and a sterile point -- impossible to resolve and imo irrelevant to the serious propositions being discussed.

(5) "You spend a significant portion of your brief article fawning over his book"

The post is 1,243 words, of which one paragraph of 77 words "fawn" over his book. The next sentence compares his conclusions to mine (one agrees; one disagrees); the next sentence cities one of his quotes - which I then trace back to its source. That's it.

(6) "I have a lot more sympathy for the "national security establishment" than I have for the social science establishment."

As I said, the anthropology vs military debate is irrelevant to this post. It's the subject of the following post, which you might find of interest: "We weaponized anthropology. Why didn’t it work?"
http://fabiusmaximus.com/2015/03/11/weaponizing-anthropology-wars-middl…

thedrosophil

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 9:30am

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

FabiusMaximus:

<BLOCKQUOTE>I don't understand your comment... What argument?</BLOCKQUOTE>

I'm linking two statements you made in your previous response: 1) "Yes, I see the exact same responses as when I and so many others pointed this out in 2003 - 2008. That's what makes our new rounds of interventions so sad, as we ignore the odds." And 2) "Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results." I've always thought that this "definition of insanity" cliche was nonsensical, as many successful endeavours require repetition, but regardless, your comments imply that you've heard these arguments over and over, but you have failed to consider them. That is what makes your comment frustrating.

<BLOCKQUOTE>DOD JP 3-24 definition of counterinsurgency: "Comprehensive civilian and military efforts designed to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its root causes. Also called COIN."</BLOCKQUOTE>

First, it's circular logic to answer a critique of the DoD's implementation of COIN by using a DoD definition of COIN. Second, JP 3-24 is an update of FM 3-24, and if you had read the comments in the link I posted in my first comment, you would have seen a number of examples in which the DoD did precisely the opposite of what it had codified as doctrine in FM 3-24/JP 3-24. And, again, FM 3-24 cherry-picked "lessons learned" from one failed COIN campaign and two that were, at the time (2006), ongoing and troubled. There is a wealth of scholarship dating back at least to 1896 (Callwell), and arguably much further, and both FM 3-24 (2006) and JP 3-24 virtually ignore that corpus of knowledge. I just did a check of JP 3-24. It mentions Malaya and Oman twice apiece, but the second instance of each comprise the same paragraph, so it's really more like one and a half mentions apiece. So, virtually zero attention paid to three of the most successful foreign-orchestrated COIN campaigns of the 20th Century. JP 3-24 makes no mention of Chechnya or the Soviet-Afghan War, and only a single mention of Algeria. Callwell's name appears nowhere, Trinquier's name appears once in a reference appendix, Galula appears once in said appendix (despite having written two influential books on counterinsurgnecy), and a single Galula quote that has nothing to do with COIN appears in a chapter heading. So, as I said before, and as I outlined repeatedly in the lengthy comment thread that you admit to having ignored: the DoD built a flawed counterinsurgency doctrine from a narrow sampling of the corpus of scholarship and experience on successful and unsuccessful counterinsurgency campaigns, and then most units ignored that doctrine in theater. As such, your argument that counterinsurgency was tried and failed holds no water, because accepted counterinsurgency theory and best practices <I>weren't</I> tried, regardless of the label that the DoD tried to put on whatever it was they thought they were doing in Afghanistan and Iraq.

<BLOCKQUOTE>I wrote 1,243 words. I could have written 10 thousand and you could still correctly say that. I write long-form articles of a thousand words which are in effect chapters painting a larger picture. Hence the For More Information section, and indexes -- pointing to a few of the unlimited other aspects of these issues.</BLOCKQUOTE>

There's a difference between brevity and oversimplification. I have no issue with brevity. However, your brief article (aside from jumping from topic to topic without clearly discussing any of them) oversimplifies the issue you are trying to discuss, and that oversimplification undermines your argument's credibility. In context, the issue's complexity "paints a larger picture" that looks considerably different than the conclusion you reach. "[F]oreign interventions almost always fail"/"Foreigners fighting = Failure in counterinsurgency" is a lazy, albeit popular, argument. It ignores both the case studies in which foreign forces made the difference between success and failure in COIN campaigns, and the historical fact that belligerents sometimes find themselves in situations wherein strategic necessity drives the need to fight foreign COIN campaigns. So, I consider your premise supremely intellectually lazy, unrepresentative of the previously elucidated corpus of knowledge and experience on the topic, and particularly ironic in light of the forum in which we now discuss such matters. "Foreign COIN is hard and we're probably going to fail so we just shouldn't do it" isn't an argument that we should be interested in. Rather, we should be interested in asking ourselves, "how have both foreign and domestic COIN campaigns succeeded and failed in the past, and what lessons can we take from those successes and failures to improve America's likelihood of success when the strategic need to wage a COIN campaign arises again in the furure?"

<BLOCKQUOTE>How is the role of anthropology in COIN relevant to this discussion? I briefly mentioned Price's views only as a connection to the following post, which discussed that issue.</BLOCKQUOTE>

I'm sorry, sir, but you can't have it both ways. You said in your initial comment to this thread, and I quote: "A bit of background: this was inspired by reading 'Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State' by David H. Price (Prof of anthropology at St. Martin’s U)." You spend a significant portion of your brief article fawning over his book, which you describe as "a book that will open your eyes". The premise of your argument as informed by his book appears to be that "the flow of DoD money influences scientists to break their professional ethics (that process is far more advanced in the physical sciences, of course) and... this contributed to our failed wars since 9/11". You blame a "FAILure to learn" on the "US national security establishment"/"national defense complex", which, in context, I'm taking to be a veiled swipe at defense contractors; if I'm reading that wrong, I would suggest that you revisit what most commentators mean by those phrases. So, you have quite obviously based your entire argument which we are now discussing upon this author's claims about the dangers of "weaponizing anthropology", and I'm questioning his credibility and motives based upon my experience and observation on precisely that topic. If Dr. Price's credibility is questionable (and it is), then the case you make in your article loses any credibility it carries, too. So, my critique is entirely relevant to your article and this discussion.

In fact, I have a lot more sympathy for the "national security establishment" than I have for the social science establishment. As I mentioned previously, anthropologists like Dr. Price are perpetually willing to suckle at the federal teat, and then choosy about producing work of any practical value based upon their politics. The anthropologists I've worked with are usually proud of the fact that they will never produce anything that anyone will ever actually read, and they joke amongst themselves about how they will never be employable. Conversely, I've worked with plenty of American defense contractors. I'll spare you a lengthy defense of contractors, but suffice to say, if you or Dr. Price are identifying defense contractors as the problem, then you're asking the wrong questions. If you want to research something that has a far more endemic effect on our success or failure in recent campaigns, I would recommend that you research the DoD's failure to teach strategy in its postgraduate institutions. The result is that senior leaders know how to wage campaigns, rather than win wars (of all types); and that disconnect impacts their ability to advise civilian policy-makers, most of whom rely upon senior military advisors to mitigate their own lack of national security background. This issue has had a far more pervasive effect on the issues you wish to discuss than any of the issues you seek to identify as root causes.

Fabius Maximus

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 8:53pm

In reply to by thedrosophil

the drosophil,

I don't understand your comment.

(1) "Your comment is frustrating, because you yourself suggest that no matter how many folks have made the argument, you've ignored it."

What argument?

(2) "neither ISAF nor MNF-I ever seriously attempted counterinsurgency in Afghanistan or Iraq"

DOD JP 3-24 definition of counterinsurgency: "Comprehensive civilian and military efforts designed to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its root causes. Also called COIN."

(3) "Overall, though, I found your article to be a gross oversimplification of recent history."

I wrote 1,243 words. I could have written 10 thousand and you could still correctly say that. I write long-form articles of a thousand words which are in effect chapters painting a larger picture. Hence the For More Information section, and indexes -- pointing to a few of the unlimited other aspects of these issues.

(4) "I was also disappointed with how much stock you put in Dr. Price's book. ... I read the arguments for & against the use of anthropology in COIN ..."

How is the role of anthropology in COIN relevant to this discussion? I briefly mentioned Price's views only as a connection to the following post, which discussed that issue.

thedrosophil

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 9:19am

In reply to by Fabius Maximus

Your comment is frustrating, because you yourself suggest that no matter how many folks have made the argument, you've ignored it. I suggest that you read that link I posted in a bit more detail, but please allow me to summarize my thoughts for you: neither ISAF nor MNF-I ever seriously attempted counterinsurgency in Afghanistan or Iraq, so the suggestion that the results in either country serve as an indictment against COIN is wholly fallacious.

The 2006 COIN FM focused entirely too closely upon "lessons learned" from Vietnam, a COIN campaign which is generally agreed to have failed; and upon Afghanistan and Iraq, where those apparent lessons had yet to produce any results recommending their wider adoption. Other relevant COIN case studies were either discussed only in passing, or ignored entirely. Regardless, most Army units did not seriously implement the new doctrine once the FM was released, most CTC instructors did not actually read it, and the few regions where it was seriously implemented (mostly those occupied by Marine Corps units, e.g. Anbar and Helmand) were overshadowed by neighboring regions in which the Army was too reticent to divert from the combined arms maneuver paradigm. The result was that established COIN doctrine and best practices were not implemented in Afghanistan or Iraq in any significant way, nor even was the DoD's modified COIN doctrine. Your argument, like that of LTC Davis in December and plenty before either of you, is akin to saying that because a patient died after the surgeon impaled them with a scimitar, scalpels don't work. To quote one of the <A HREF="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYBBn0JyKDg">great song</A> popularized by The Human Beinz: "no no, no, no no, no no no no, no, no no no, no no, no no, no no, no, no, no no, no no, no no, no."

Overall, though, I found your article to be a gross oversimplification of recent history. I was also disappointed with how much stock you put in Dr. Price's book. I've worked with anthropologists, and I've read the arguments for and against the use of anthropology in COIN and other forms of warfare. The priority is political, not professional: when Democrats occupy the White House, social scientists traditionally cite a duty to humanity, and when Republicans occupy the White House, they claim a need for professional ethics and academic objectivity. Meanwhile, neither ethics nor objectivity are ever so critical as to prevent career social scientists from accepting (or even subsisting upon) federal subsidies. I suspect that I'm not the only SWJ commentator who kept abreast of the deplorable resistance the professional social science community put up against the Human Terrain System. It's disgraceful that the military could approach a community of academics that lives off of federal largesse with cap in hand, literally ask for help in rebuilding foreign countries and protecting foreign populations, and receive nothing but cynicism and condemnation from said community. The idea that one such individual would then seek income by justifying that cynicism is truly pathetic.

Fabius Maximus

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 9:24am

In reply to by thedrosophil

thedrosophil,

Yes, Martin van Creveld is a controversial figure. But this post relies more on the studies by RAND, Robert W. Chamberlain (Captain, US Army) and Andrew Exum's protégé (Dr. Simpson), etc.

"SWJ have had this discussion before"

Yes, I see the exact same responses as when I and so many others pointed this out in 2003 - 2008. That's what makes our new rounds of interventions so sad, as we ignore the odds. FAILure to learn is a weakness that negates our great power.

*Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.*

That’s an ancient aphorism of Alcohol Anonymous, people who know all about dysfunctionality. That it applies to us now says pretty much all that needs be said.

thedrosophil

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 7:52am

I kept reading after "Martin van Creveld", but that's essentially where the author lost me. We few, we happy few, we commentators at SWJ have <A HREF="http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/coin-is-a-proven-failure">had this discussion before</A>, recently, ad nauseum, so if everyone will excuse my flippancy, I'll simply quote one of the <A HREF="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ">most celebrated rock anthems of all time</A>: "no, no, no, no, no, no, no."

Fabius Maximus

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 12:21am

Move Forward,

Thank you for your comment. You are, of course, correct that this is a simplification about counterinsurgency. This was a post of a thousand words; books uncounted have been written on the subject since WWII.

However, I don't understand your objections. I note the bottom line: foreign armies almost always lose when fighting local insurgencies. I cite studies by RAND and others on the subject, although the fact seems obvious by now.

We can quibble about the borderline cases. Is the British army a foreign force in Northern Ireland? Do colonial armies "win" against insurgents when they transfer power to a local government and free the colony? The answers hardly seem significant vs. the big picture.

Using methods that have repeatedly failed doesn't seem logical, imo. Even more so when each new intervention since 9/11 begins with promises of easy cheap victory -- and ends with a nation in ruins, aflame with resurgent jihadists.

What are the alternatives? That's a subject for another day. One step at a time.

Move Forward

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 9:30pm

Fabian has some interesting points. However, methinks he vastly oversimplifies counterinsurgency, 4GW, and guerrilla war claiming them to be one and the same and limited to just two types. For starters lets look at one of the Kilcullen quotes he refers to several times (in other blog posts):

<blockquote>{Counterinsurgency} is a competition with the insurgent for the right and the ability to win the hearts, minds and acquiescence of the <strong>population.</strong></blockquote>

I highlighted the word “population” because it seems a major flaw in Kilcullen’s and Fabius argument about foreign involvement in other people’s insurgencies. Problems for the counterinsurgent seem most persistent when populations vary widely throughout the affected conflict area. When we beat Japan and Germany in WWII, there was no subsequent insurgency during our occupation because a) the <strong>population</strong> was unified culturally and by language, b) the population was not receiving external assistance from any other population, and c) we had massive occupation forces that overwhelmed the few military aged males (MAM) in the population that remained able to rebel.

In contrast, in Afghanistan and Iraq, the nature of <strong>population</strong> varied greatly in religious beliefs, ethnicity, and language. Lots of unemployed MAMs were still able to fight and obviously killing them via the genocide and past practices of other historical insurgencies was not an option. Also, these varied “populations” received external support in Afghanistan by Pakistan to assist the Pashtun Taliban insurgency. But foreign fighters also were involved as were foreign terrorist groups. Finally, in both Iraq and Afghanistan we failed initially to deploy an adequately large stability "occupation" coalition which emboldened the insurgents.

In Iraq, Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds were the three large population groups who also received external support from other countries and terror groups. Contrary to Fabius’ contention, we had won the counterinsurgency effort by 2008, despite having far too few forces initially to battle both Sunni and Shiite insurgents. However, after the surge, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by removing all U.S. forces too early, and ignoring al-Maliki’s screw ups and Iran's influence. Thus when Assad killed 200,000 Sunnis and sent millions into exile, ISIS was born and came to the aid ostensibly of Sunnis in Iraq, as well. ISIS also was supported by external “populations” of foreign fighters and although al-Maliki got the boot, the Iranian and IRGC/Hezbollah influence that was averse to the Sunni “population” persisted in its control.

Likewise, Vietnam involved a foreign population called North Vietnam supported by communist surrogates China and Russia attempting to force South Vietnam to become communist, as well. See the pattern here? Only when the insurgent receives extensive foreign assistance and has sanctuary does the U.S. ability to counter that insurgency run into difficulty. Why wasn’t there an insurgency in Panama or South Korea, or by East Germans influencing West Germans? Could it be a function of effective border control and smaller borders as well as common local “populations” with a common goal? In the case of South Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, our allied governments continued to have great problems of legitimacy in terms of satisfying all members of the “population.” But the Viet Cong largely had been defeated when we left and the ARVN had solidified to some extent until a major conventional (not guerrilla) attack in 1975. Likewise, as screwy as al-Maliki had left Iraq after our departure, it took a strong external assault by ISIS to defeat the Iraqi Army.

So when Fabius claims insurgencies come in two types, there is something being left out when he attributes failure of the “good guys” in aiding one side of the “population” while forgetting to mention that external “bad guys” are supporting insurgents from sanctuary due to poor border control, a stability and transition force that is too small, and widely varied “populations” within the conflict area that are impossible to rule with <strong>any</strong> government with inherently conflicting goals and influences. Here is what he says are the two basic types of insurgency/4GW/guerrilla conflicts, local vs. foreign-assisted:

<blockquote>As a simple dichotomy for analytical purposes, we can say that 4GW’s come in two types, reflecting the degree of involvement of outside interests (obviously there are many other ways to characterize 4GW).
1. Violence between two or more local groups, who can form from any combination of clans, governments, ethnicities, religions, gangs, and tribes.
2. Violence between two or more sides, where at least one is led by foreigners – both comprising, as above, any imaginable combination of factions.</blockquote>

So an observer without anthropological training might speculate that no matter how you assist the desired side in an insurgency involving multiple ethnicities/languages/religions, if a more persistent external influence with sanctuary bordering the conflict is assisting the other side, we aren’t going to win. The same observer might note that it then makes sense to split up the affected area created by ancient colonial influence so that the external parties in the sanctuary of Pakistan can assist the new Pashtun state all they want without necessarily having much success intervening in the other new state comprising the Northern Alliance ethnicities who speak a different language and don’t have the same strict religious views or desire to align with Pakistan.

Likewise, a non-anthropologist displaying common sense might speculate that splitting Iraq into Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd states would allow Iran to influence the new Shiite state, the GCC and Turk states to help the new Sunni state, and the U.S. to help the Kurd state. In both cases, the foreign occupation force would only exist in areas where they are welcome--in Kurdistan and in the newly smaller Tajik/Uzbek/Hazara/moderate Pashtun Afghanistan--without any forces in the new Taliban-influenced Pashtunistan in the southeast along the AfPak border. No doubt Iran and India would help the new smaller Afghanistan because they share more in common.

The other major problem with Fabius argument is the lack of viable alternatives. Basically, I think Fabius advocates a completely hands off approach to other's insurgencies. So what happens when Pakistan, Iran, GCC rich guys (funding ISIS), and Russia/China in Vietnam decide to intervene without opposition? How does that affect America's future when ISIS expands gaining Sunni backing to combat an expanding Iran? What happens when Pakistan controls Afghanistan and al Qaeda has sanctuary there where training/planning can occur with only cruise missiles being the weapon of choice? No "drone" war because no airspace. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are still alive. Sunnis look to buy nukes from Pakistan to battle Iran, and so on and so on.

The unknowns are unfathomable compared to possibly doing it right in the first place with new smaller countries and a larger upfront surge to stabilize and transition to <strong>local</strong> ethnically-similar security forces after regime change. The alternative is high oil prices and a continued return to Iraq---Desert Storm, early OIF, surge OIF, abandoned OIF, half-assed bombing OIF---get the idea?

Fabius Maximus

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 6:06pm

A bit of background: this was inspired by reading "Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State" by David H. Price (Prof of anthropology at St. Martin’s U). He describes one facet of America’s militarization: how the flow of DoD money influences scientists to break their professional ethics (that process is far more advanced in the physical sciences, of course) and how this contributed to our failed wars since 9/11.

The follow-up post gives an excerpt from his analysis of COIN. I recommend the book, and especially the last two chapters, to anyone interested in understanding our post-9/11 wars.