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Counterinsurgency/COIN Literature & Discussion (merged)

This from the USA and USMC Counterinsurgency Center Blog (highlights mine):
JP 3-24, released 5 October 2009, “provides joint doctrine for the planning, execution, and assessment of counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. . . .” In so doing, the publication draws heavily from FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency. Although the introduction to JP 3-24 recognizes that “religious ideologies” are a factor in exciting core grievances, the publication devotes little attention to those factors. Even the fact that the JP links religion and ideology into “religious ideologies” is problematical. Some would argue the two are distinct because religion is morality-centered and is based upon a sacred text, a commitment to a God or gods, and, quite often, a view of an afterlife. Ideology, on the other hand, more reflects ideas about life and culture and can be somewhat abstract.

Sebastian Gorka, military affairs fellow at the Foundation for Defense Democracies, expressed his concern about the publication’s lack of focus on the role of religion in insurgencies. He noted that the joint publication mentions religion only four times, while FM 3-24 mentions the word nineteen times. Considering that religion plays a significant role in on-going insurgencies (although that is currently a subject of debate), the lack of ink devoted to the topic in the joint publication is astounding.

Gorka further argues that religion is not a core grievance, as JP 3-24 asserts. What the JP should address, he added, is the strategic question of how religion feeds ideology. That, he says, it fails to do.

Religion has been used for hundreds of years to further causes. “In the name of religion” can be quoted for millions of deaths. As soldiers, how do we gain understanding of the role of religion in our current fights? How do we counter an enemy who may have a religious basis to his struggle against established governments? These are questions that JP 3-24 does not address.

LTC Storm Savage Chief Counterinsurgency Integration US Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center
Originally posted with a mistake... reposted...

When fighting a counter insurgency campaign one must look at all sources for information.
Che Guevara fought and led a campaign in Cuba during the revolution and his thoughts on fighting are insightful and very useful even today.

Pentagon planners need to read what the enemy reads, must know what the enemy knows and must be willing to apply it. 
They must also read the very manuals they write.

"Where a government has come into power through some form of popular vote, fraudulent or not, and maintains at least an appearance of constitutional legality, the guerrilla outbreak cannot be promoted, since the possibilities of peaceful struggle have not yet been exhausted."

"The great lesson of the guerrillas' invincibility is taking hold among the masses of the dispossessed. The galvanization of the national spirit; the preparation for more difficult tasks, for resistance to more violent repression. Hate as a factor in the struggle, intransigent hatred for the enemy that takes one beyond the natural limitations of a human being and converts one into an effective, violent, selective, cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be like that; a people without hate cannot triumph over a brutal enemy"
Che Guevara (1928 - 1967)

Concepts mean nothing unless you know the history, the ground and the politics.

At its heart, a counterinsurgency is an armed struggle for the support of the population.
This support can be achieved or lost through information engagement, strong representative government, access to goods and services, fear, or violence. This armed struggle also involves eliminating insurgents who threaten the safety and security of the population.
However, military units alone cannot defeat an insurgency.
Most of the work involves discovering and solving the population’s underlying issues, that is, the root causes of their dissatisfaction with the current arrangement of political power. Dealing with diverse issues such as land reform, unemployment, oppressive leadership, or ethical tensions places a premium on tactical leaders who can not only close with the enemy, but also negotiate agreements, operate with nonmilitary agencies and other nations, restore basic services, speak the native (a foreign) language, orchestrate political deals, and get "the word" on the street.
FM 3- 24.2
General David Petraeus
Tactics in Counterinsurgency
US Army

It was just trying to say that many times we look too hard at an issue and do not realize that many times we have fought many of these same battles before.

The surge in iraq was a success and I see similar results in Afghan although it is still early.
And with the New Year a new crop has begun to grow.  Jesus wept!
I remember reading an article about you in a magazine. Truly an amazing story Mr. Franklin. Interesting looking blog, too. Happy New Year  :christmas happy:

You may want to take a little more care in properly crediting whom you are quoting so as to not make us think that we are looking at a plagiarist.  Where is the separation between your thoughts and the lines that you are quoting?  From where did you get the quote by Che Guevara and is it one para or two?  Where does the quote from FM 3- 24.2 by General David Petraeus begin and end?  What else do you want us to read into what you have to say.......or is this just a means to have people visit your Blog?

Army.ca Conduct Guidelines may also be a good read.

Tactics in COIN
FMI 3- 24.2 (2009)

For the Che quote:
Message to the Tricontinental (1967)

The idea was to simply make a comment that sometimes counter insurgency can be an easy thing... that and to promote discussion on the topic
Busy little beaver, eh.....

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Sapplicant said:
I remember reading an article about you in a magazine. Truly an amazing story Mr. Franklin. Interesting looking blog, too. Happy New Year  :christmas happy:

ptepaul is not Paul Franklin, he's just quoting his blog. MCpl Franklin posts here under a different username. Can't recall it off the top of my head.
Brihard said:
ptepaul is not Paul Franklin, he's just quoting his blog. MCpl Franklin posts here under a different username. Can't recall it off the top of my head.

My bad. Sort of.

A good explanation of Modern COIN and its narrative.  Note the inconsistencies and overlooked history in a lot of what we consider to be essential to modern COIN.  Nobody wants to talk about how force relocation was essential to Malaya.
Before reading this, Infanteer, I'll just mention that that point was emphasized by Sir Robert Thompson in a lecture to my staff college course in 1971. He also noted that for a variety of real world reasons, forced relocation was not doable in Vietnam.

Edit to add. I have just read the paper and I tend to agree with it. To succeed in "COIN" if by that one means crushing the resistance or insurgency requires a degree of active repression that would be completely acceptable today. In the case of the 1899-1902 Boer War, the British ultimately prevailed because the C-in-C, Lord Kitchener, appreciated that if you get the enemy by their b.lls. their hearts and minds will come along automatically. In doing so, the British forces literally locked up the Boer and native rural populations on the two Boer republics. I don't have the exact figures with me, but well over 25,000 Boer internees and roughly the same number of natives died in these camps because of incompetence on the part of the captors as well as ignorance of basic public health. Most of the deaths were women and children as the men were on commando. These exceeded by a factor or three or four the Boer losses in combat.

I also feel the following from Lawrence is more than moot: Lawrence’s eleventh precept: ‘The foreigner and Christian is not a popular person in Arabia. However friendly and informal the treatment of yourself may be, remember always that your foundations are very sandy ones.’
I agree with much of what is said in this article, especially the wilful omission of relocation and thinly-disguised "Gulagery".  I took a great course whilst doing my Masters on "nation-building", instructed by the newly-arrived-from-theatre EA to Petraeus.  I will dig up some of the texts and share them with you Infanteer - they shed some light on the importance of controlling the populace, and a number of examples of failed methods for doing so...

My favourite dude from Florence has this to say about "newly acquired States" (or in our case, newly invaded / liberated):

"There are three methods whereby it may be held.  The first is to destroy it; the second to go there and reside there in person; the third, to suffer it to live on under its own laws, subjecting it to a tribute, and entrusting its government to a few inhabitants who will keep it friendly for you.

Sounds a whole bunch to me like the evolution of the Coalition strategy in AStan...
An excellent piece, thanks for posting the link.  I especially liked the reference to  T.E. Lawrence  and how he would be perceived today as a lecturing military authority.

I know guys who spent many tours, and years, in Malaya (the conflict lasted 1948-60). They confirmed that it was highly unique, and couldn't be done successfully today in a 'human rights' dominated environment. They thought the US was crazy trying to directly transfer Malayan lessons to Vietnam. Same goes for Northern Ireland.

Now, if you were able to train and support an indigenous proxy force - say, the ANA - to do what is 'required' on their own, with their human rights standards at play, you might be on to something. But hey, who cares about ethics when victory is at stake!

In the late sixties I read a very funny novel called Roman Go Home about the last years of the Roman Empire in Britain. It had all the usual players of the time including the British Peoples Liberation Army which was supported from off shore by the Saxons, and the ex-pat Romans who had married Britains and put down roots. The results were predictable with the useful idiots who had opposed the Romans at the beck and call of their Saxon advisers along with the ex-pats being liquidated and the Saxons moving in to provide stability.

The point I guess it made, and I read all the contemporary writers on the subject at the time, is that if there is a popular appreciation that the regime's time has come, it matters not what the masters try. The issue is what comes next. Arab Spring, anyone?

Edit: Reference to Amazon.UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roman-Go-Home-Adam-Fergusson/dp/000221718X
:eek:ff topic:  :sorry:

Odd, I was thinking something the same as Old Sweat because I am deeply immersed in the 13th century right now - Henry III and Simon de Montfort and all that.

The point is that an insurgency is any threat to the established order - we choose to counter some insurgencies and we either support or conduct others, e.g. Libya.

All insurgencies are political, only some violently so. Some insurgencies, like de Montfort's rebellion, look rather like conventional wars; others, like the Viet Minh vs the French morph from small bands of guerrillas into conventional operations; still others, like Algeria, can be fought and won by guerrillas. (We can argue that the only conventional battle in Algeria was in short-lived 'revolt' of the French regulars which de Gaulle defeated by the simple expedient of going over the heads of the generals and appealing, directly, to the conscripts and asking them to stay in their barracks, as they did. De Gaulle won, mostly, because he understood the power of the portable radio ...) Still others never develop into (much) violence at all.

Sorry for the sidetrack.

Bing West wrote an interesting review of two documentaries on the tactical side of Afghanistan -Restrepo and Armadillo - in the Sep/Oct edition of Foreign Affairs.  The article was titled, incidentally, Groundhog War: The Limits of Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.  While West's commentary is interesting, one part was, I felt, worth adding to this thread on the "COIN Narrative" as it spells how this narrative may indeed play out.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to steadily withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and end the U.S. combat mission by 2014.  Regardless of how the war turns out, the military lessons learned will be negative; the conflict has dragged on far too long to be considered a strategic success.  Unlike in the years after World War II, the generals of this day will not gain in historical stature.  The popularity of the idea of counterinsurgency as nation building reached its zenith when Iraq was stabilized in 2008.  At the time, the U.S. military's counterinsurgency warriorintellectuals were in vogue.  As happened to their predecessors after the Vietnam War, however, their concepts of war fighting will come to be rejected by the younger generation of company-grade officers who had to execute a flawed doctrine.  No matter their skills and good intentions, foreign troops cannot persuade the people of another nation to reject insurgents in their midst.  The people must convince themselves -- and be willing to sacrifice for that conviction.

The emphasis is mine.  It shall be interesting to see if the military profession sees a reversal on the old saying "Thank God, the war is over. We can get back to real soldiering", but with the "real soldiering" being a rejection of "nation-building" exercises (which COIN can be lumped with) and a focus on limited engagements akin to the Powell Doctrine.  The arms-length intervention in Libya certainly seems to be a portent of this.