Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ok, Listen Up!

I need you all to read this because I am going to read it and I will have questions!

A Primer on Population-Centric Counterinsurgency

I got it in an email from the Warrior Legacy Foundation but Uncle Jimbo has it up at BlackFive

There is an important debate underway about what strategy we should pursue in Afghanistan. This decision is important for all Americans, but many don't have a very good understanding of the Population-Centric Counterinsurgency strategy advocated by Gen. McChrystal, the new commander there. The Warrior Legacy Institute had three of it's fellows write an explanation that doesn't require a military background. It is designed for you and anyone you want to share it with. We have not taken a position advocating one strategy over another and we will be releasing a primer on the Counter-Terror option soon as well. We believe that educating the public about the choices will allow them to make informed decisions about what they think is best.

So read it. It's only five pages. Then get ready to answer my questions.

One of the problems with the nonsense I spew is that once in a while, people take me seriously. I was pushing the Frontline Afghanistan episode, "Obama's War" on FaceBook and posted a link to the Bouhammer post that contains a preview. I had watched the preview and intend to watch the actual show. One of my Facebook friends popped up and asked me for my opinion. Not my "rah-rah" go "Sailor, Soldier, Marine, Airman and Guardian" cheerleading stuff. But my "You've-watched-it-now-discuss-it-in-a-coherent-way" with COIN in Iraq. He gave me another link about COIN as it was executed in Iraq. It was a different episode of Frontline - "Insurgency"

Remember, especially my Navy Coterie, your purpose is to make sure I look good.


BillT said...

Okay, I read it. Nothing earth-shatteringly new in it -- in fact, it advocates the same things we did in the Delta in '69 - '70 that *worked*.

Buuuuut that little bit of information never made it to the newspapers...

Squid Thoughts said...

I got this email from WLF as well, and finally got a chance to read through it. So here goes.

First, maybe it was my state of mind when I was reading, but the word 'guerilla' started to morph into 'gorilla' in my head. I think I started channeling Jane Goodall; envisioning gorilla regions, gorilla plans, and most especially the line from the 2nd paragraph: gorillas "swimming like fish in the waters of the citizenry". *ahem* OK, digression over.

In all seriousness, as was pointed out, population-centric COIN isn't a new idea, and has been proven to work. It needs an intelligent and well thought out plan to systematically dismantle a guerilla(gorilla)/insurgent operation through demoralization and other means. Insurgency, to be successful and gain legitimacy, is dependent on a goal and the means to achieve that goal. Take away the means or make it unduly difficult to achieve, and it becomes not worthwhile.

Perhaps the most vital requirement (I think) of this type of COIN program is what I like to term the three C's: Control, Co-ordination, and Commitment. The commitment part may be our biggest obstacle, because it has to be complete--from the very top to the lowest. This commitment is going to require patience, generous resources, and the ability to visualize both the short and the long view.

Can we do this? I'd like to say yes, but I think this is something that is going to have to be judged in hindsight, unfortunately.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

The American public won't have the stomach for this, Maggie. And the fact that there aren't any good guys (amongst the leaders, I'm saying) over there - that clearly doesn't help, either. I mean, we have, what, warlords, drug dealers, "moderate" Taliban, and a corrupt central government that is also weak (the President is basically the Mayor of Kabul). As much as I hate to say it, I think we just need to face the fact that we're not going to be able to "fix" these countries. Containment is probably what we more need to focus on.

Kanani said...

Hi Boston Maggie,
It was very nice meeting you this weekend at BWE. I regret that I didn't get to carouse, but I brought work with me and ended up late at night...working...only to be rudely awakened by the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

Anyway, one of the interesting things about COIN is how it was written. There's a book I checked out of the library. The book isn't without a few dragged out faults, but Thos. Rick's book "The Gamble" goes into detail on how and why is was created.

The team consisted of pacifists, military, humanitarians, journalists, who hashed out what a new strategy should do. These planning sessions were held a Ft. Leavenworth under Gen. David Petraeus, who was then head of the college.

That's just a feather to put on your hat.
The Kitchen Dispatch.