Small Wars Journal

If We Want Security Force Assistance Missions to Succeed, Give Advisers Control of the Purse Strings

If We Want Security Force Assistance Missions to Succeed, Give Advisers Control of the Purse Strings by Bryce Loidolt and Ed Ballanco - Modern War Institute

In 2009 a US Army adviser partnered with an Iraqi Army battalion hit a brick wall. The adviser had long been pressing the Iraqi battalion to conduct more offensive operations in the area it was tasked to secure, to include cordon and searches, raids, and patrols to hit local insurgent networks hard. The battalion commander resisted, arguing that unless his unit reduced the number of soldiers it had at static checkpoints, it wouldn’t have enough manpower for offensive operations. Drawing on his training, the adviser gently cajoled his partner unit to make these adjustments, but he didn’t get anywhere. The battalion commander delayed, changed the subject, and otherwise refused to cooperate. The checkpoints were ineffective, but they were relatively safe and required little planning. What incentive did he have to change course?

A consideration of partner nation incentives is central to the success of future advisory efforts, but to change these incentives advisers need the ability to provide and withhold resources in the field…

Read on.


As former special forces officer COL Slavko N. Bjelajac seems to indicate below, material inducements would seem to be the wrong approach.  (In this case, of course, the opponent was communism/the communists.)


It must be understood that the success of the revolutionaries is not due to the application of new principles of warfare, or psychological warfare, or to the technical efficiency of revolutionary forces and their tactics, or the terrain; in spite of their importance, these factors, no matter how favorable, would not be sufficient to assure success. The number of warriors armed with rifles and hand grenades is not the decisive factor. The decisive factor is more in the nature of power. And the success of the revolutionaries can be primarily assigned to two extraordinarily powerful factors, namely, their closeness and appeal to people -- that is, their ability to win over the population -- and their ideological conviction.

Communists, although champions of materialism, have succeeded in perfecting a method of exploiting human factors, which they correctly regard as being of primary importance. On the other hand, the Free World, inherently less materialistic, tends to think and act more in terms of the material elements of a given situation and less out of consideration for human factors. As a result, Westerners operate under a self-imposed handicap and thus engage the Communists inadequately prepared. Their troops and means which are much superior in numbers and organization show themselves impotent in front of an enemy which, by all outward appearances, looks inferior.

END QUOTE (See Page 79.)

You may say "Stop !" -- your all screwed up -- obviously we are not the revolutionaires here !  But in this regard, Kilcullen would definitely seem to disagree with you:


Politically, in many cases today, the counter-insurgent represents revolutionary change, while the insurgent fights to preserve the status quo of ungoverned spaces, or to repel an occupier -- a political relationship opposite to that envisaged in classical counterinsurgency. ... The enemy includes al-Qa’ida (AQ) linked extremists and Taliban, but also local tribesmen fighting to preserve their traditional culture against 21st century encroachment.

END QUOTE (See Page 3.)

Thus, as the true "revolutionaries" in these matters (see Kilcullen above), is not the primary way that the U.S./the West achieves its desired (returning to COL Bjelajac now) via:

a.  Our "closeness and appeal to the people?"  And

b.  Our "ideological conviction?"

To wit: via the "human factor" and not, as it were, through material elements/material inducements/material "carrots and sticks" approaches?