Small Wars Journal

"The COIN Warrior" Waging Influence

Wed, 06/02/2010 - 4:50am
"The COIN Warrior" Waging Influence

Hints for the Counterinsurgency (COIN) Strategy in Afghanistan

by Sean McKenna and Russell Hampsey

ISAFCAAT-E Memorandum Special to Small Wars Journal

Download the full memorandum: "The COIN Warrior" Waging Influence

The purpose of this document is to flatten the information sharing process across the force and provide information that we have seen throughout the Afghan Theater. The intent is to provide information to personnel in their pre-deployment training at the National and International Training Centers, as well as forces currently operating in the Afghan COIN Environment. The information contained in this document can be utilized as a pocket guide for continual reference.

Since the announcement of the Counterinsurgency Strategy with the publishing of the Integrated Civilian-Military Campaign Plan (ICMCP) we have advised and assisted numerous units from Regional Commands to Platoon sized elements. There are a few common threads that resonate throughout the lower echelons of command and we identified a need to address these universal issues.

This document is not a panacea, but should provide personnel at all levels with insight as to several techniques and ideas to put into their tool kit to improve their repertoire especially at the battalion, company, and platoon levels. The counterinsurgency environment in Afghanistan requires a customized approach in every village and valley; you are only limited by your imagination and ability to influence.

Download the full memorandum: "The COIN Warrior" Waging Influence

About the Author(s)


slapout9 (not verified)

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 1:17pm

I liked the concept of creating your own zip code book. There were a lot of Police Intelligence concepts in there too, which I think would be useful. I thoought it was really good myself.

carl (not verified)

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 11:39am

One of the things the police force I am familiar with emphasized both in training and on the job was knowing "when to turn it on and when to turn it off." I always thought that had a lot of application in a small war and was glad to see the authors use a similar phrase in this paper.

COIN Actually done (not verified)

Sun, 11/28/2010 - 11:00pm

It continues to amaze me on how individuals can comment on subjects they really have no experience in. The individuals have highlighted key facts that unfortunately have not be accomplished. As stated, this may have been extraordinary a few years ago and lack of doctrinal knowledge such as FM 3-24 is unbecoming of Majors..... who should know completely the application.

I would like to remind the observer of this article..... doctrine is merely a guide and as FM 3-24 is almost like SH 21-76....Ranger Handbook.... it falls greatly short in an environment that precludes the basis or genesis of FM 3-24. These men are writing based on realities of the ground and current situations. The environment changes from one village to another from one district to another and the operational arrogance of commanders from IRAQ assuming all techniques that worked there will work in Afghanistan.

I know these men personally and know there personal track record in combat and in the advisory role. Their record stands far higher in contributions and success than most commanders on the battlefield now. The mere existence in a CAAT concept clearly demonstrates that the PMT and current doctrine doesn't create the necessary success needed to create a successful exit strategy..... or a not 1 but 2 4 Star Generals deemed it necessary to elicitate the information of such great men.

Maybe the reader of this article took offense to the observations.... and generally it is difficult to accept obvious that is in front of our nose. Our success is based on learning and reacting faster than the enemy and defeating him before he defeats us. Politics and personality mine fields are truly what is killing momentum and true progress...... and by the way killing ISAF forces.

In conclusion, it is my belief no commander wakes up every morning and plans for failure, he just plans to rush to failure with bad information. Embrace the knowledge of men with the courage to highlight different views and see the validity in their intent. They didn't publish a book or become a FOX consultant. They walked more miles with the troops than many of their own commanders have.

Food for thought.......... we who have served care for those who still serve and may know just a few things. We respect the next generation of commanders who have the burden to bring their men home alive while accomplishing what their Commander In Chief has asked them to do.


Coinzilla (not verified)

Mon, 06/21/2010 - 5:20pm

This would have been cutting edge COIN three years ago. As it stands, while there are useful snippets they are heavily outweighed by the absolutely horrendous "advice" issued by these two officers. It's as if these two men forgot any COIN training they've ever had and had never read the manuals for either counterinsurgency or stability operations.

These men advise the construction of a "smart book," and the advice they give is to think of what they didn't get? Both of these officers were trained in how to examine the human terrain using a guideline for such a "smart book." Failing that, FM 3-24 lays it out. Nowhere in this "guidance" does it stress that having all leaders read the relevant manuals is important, instead encouraging commanders to somehow find a way to train in mountains instead of the JRTC. Granted, the JRTC is a poor example of Afghanistan, but it's where many commanders are forced to go in order to perform their MRX. It's not like Ft Carson just signs out training areas for units from Kentucky, Georgia or a Guard unit from Ohio train in. Good advice is lost amongst such unworkable recommendations.

The authors discuss partners in other LOO's without ever mentioning the term, "stability operations." They mention learning OTI's "frameworks" without ever mentioning the District Stability Framework, as if they couldn't actually recall the name of USAID's product, used by OTI. They literally countermand the training that is given at ISAF's Counterinsurgency Training Center - Afghanistan, where I'm assuming CAAT members are sent for training prior to heading out in the field. One could never tell it from these gentlemen. It's as if they've discovered COIN all by themselves.

It is difficult to believe that such anecdotal advice, which literally countermands the training provided by the COIN trainers who work for COMISAF, could have been written by professional CAAT members. It is even more inconceivable that it was cleared by the CAAT for publication. This is substandard work and should be re-worked prior to releasing it to any commander who is working to prepare for deployment to Afghanistan. This is a very disappointing indicator of the level of efficacy of the CAAT.

Three years ago, this would have been an advanced product. Now, it's actually counterproductive and amateurish. One would reasonably expect two Majors to be better versed in doctrine and especially the two information frameworks which are on the verge of being defined by COMISAF directive as being mandated for documenting the human terrain ("smart books") and stability operations. This paper is actually potentially damaging in its current form.