A short life for COIN?

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This is an opinion piece.  pl

In the last few weeks a new theme has emerged among the spokesmen and friends of the present policy in Iraq.

That theme maintains that the improvement in the situation on the ground in Anbar Province and perhaps in Diyala as well is the result of the increased number of US combat forces available for offensive counterguerrilla action on a large scale.  The theme insists that US forces are driving the AQinM "foreigners" before them like game and that in the aftermath local leaders are stepping forward to embrace the cause of the Baghdad government.  It is said that as a result police recruitment is significantly increased and these provinces are on the way to becoming an example to the rest of the Middle East and the "momentum booster"for regional revolution so long predicted by neocon theory.

This thematic emphasis accepts the idea that the application of sufficient combat power will reverse the present adverse situation and create altogether new conditions.  If this is the basis of administration thinking, then the multi-faceted subtleties of the COIN doctrine laid out in the NEW US Army field manual are not necessary and it will no longer be necessary for senior commanders to try to "eat soup with a knife."

Spokesmen and administration friends like Senator Graham of South Carolina are now emphasizing the centrality of foreign jihadis among the enemy forces in Iraq and the necessity of defeating those foreigners there before AQinM extends its operations to America.

——————————————————————

A few points:

– The tribals in Anbar were brought into cooperation with US FORCES (not the government) by the simple expedient of being receptive to tribesmen who feared and hated the AQinM threat to their tribal law and way of life. There is an increase in Iraqi police in Anbar.  Yes, but they are really tribal auxiliaries to the Iraqi police and they are serving under their own leaders.  This is a "deputization" of the tribesmen to clear their own dirahs.  This is a good thing.  what is not a good thing is to imagine that this phenomenon was caused by increased US combat operations.  The outcome in Diyala remains undecided at this time.

– The situation in Baghdad is as bad as ever.

– The logic of the claims now being made by the administration leads to an outcome in which the September "report" asks for more time and more troops. It will be argued that the tide has turned, a recipe for success has been found and the implication will be clear that whomever wishes to give up and go home will have stabbed the armed forces in the back and exposed the American people to the future ravages of AQinM. Part of the logic of this argument will be the present inclination in the WH and NSC to "lock" the next president into the war in Iraq thus continuing Bush Administration strategy.  General Pace revealed to reporters on his recent trip to Iraq that a troop increase is among the options being considered.

– COIN is difficult, complex and hard to measure success for.  Most of the present seniors in the US forces are not equipped by personality type, education or life experience for that kind of work.  Their efforts (under pressure) to master the subtleties of Bernard Fall’s deceptively simple formula "Counterinsurgency = Political Action + Civic Action + Counter-guerrilla Operations" are painful to watch.  they will be quite willing to accept a methodology that lets them return to an emphasis on what they call "kinetic operations."

– Where will they find more troops?  There will be no draft.  The Republicans would vote against it, much less the Democrats.  I suggest that they will create third rate security units out of USAF and US Navy personnel to take over more or less static duties and "free up" first line troops for more offensive operations (kinetic).  Artillerymen are already being used in second line duties of the same kind.

– The first COIN era in the US Army lasted roughly from the ’50s to the end of the VN War when COIN as a doctrine was abandoned by the Army.  It began with the publication of Maxwell Taylor’s book, "The Uncertain Trumpet," and flourished in many theaters and in VN until the introduction of conventional units by the North Vietnamese Government in late 1964.  This was met by the US with introduction of massive conventional power of its own in an attempt to destroy the NVA through kinetic attrition.  This failed.  The failure led to the re-introduction of a COIN based strategy after 1967.  In the end, the Ho Chi Minh government won through attrition of the US public will to continue the fight.  In this war, we began with an attempt at attrition of "dead-enders," then switched for the last couple of years to a COIN revival and now are reverting to a system based on kinetic operations as the key to attrition of the enemy’s will to fight and to increased public adherence to the government. 

The cycle has shortened.  pl

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33 Responses to A short life for COIN?

  1. David Habakkuk says:

    Colonel Lang,
    This seems likely to be a complete disaster.
    Are not politicians — quite rationally, in terms of their concerns with their own success and survival — going to be so terrified of the ‘stab in the back’ charge that they will simply not confront the actual options in Iraq?
    And if this is so, is not the war likely simply to drag on — in the process, doing measureless damage to the position of the United States in the world and the stability of the Middle East?
    Likewise, will not measureless damage be done to the U.S. Army, and a terrible legacy of bitterness be built up among the soldiers?

  2. wasabi says:

    Care to make any comments on this news story titled “Iraq: Artillery attack by Turkish troops, source says”
    http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Security/?id=1.0.1117321364

  3. Montag says:

    The name of that new arms-platform drone they’re deploying says it all–“Reaper.” I found this description of the successful British COIN in 1950s Malaya:
    ” The key to the Malayan situation lay in the fact that ONLY the British could gratify nationalist demands, and were willing to do so. The Communists were left with a narrow range of support from those who wanted a socialist as well as a national state. While the successes of the anti-insurgency campaign could be applied elsewhere in terms of techniques and technology, the political context could not. [General Sir Gerald] Templar’s catch prhase, ‘You’ve got to offer people in trouble a big carrot’, became meaningless if all that could be offered was the stick. The Communist threat was defeated reather than abolished.”–Andrew Wheatcroft, THE WORLD ATLAS OF REVOLUTIONS, 1983.

  4. MarcLord says:

    “There will be no draft. The Republicans would vote against it, mush less the Democrats.”
    Pat,
    Mush less the Democrats. Hehe. I see Freud’s got your keyboard slipping again. The Type-A COIN strategy gauzily veils the tantalizing question, “Why can’t we just kill all of them?”
    One response to this saucy wench would be, “By ‘more kinetic,’ do you mean ‘more expensive?'”

  5. mlaw230 says:

    “The U.S. command said Wednesday the highest-ranking Iraqi in the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq has been arrested, adding that information from him indicates the group’s foreign-based leadership wields considerable influence over the Iraqi chapter, and that in his opinion, Social Security should be privatized.”
    OK, I added that last part.

  6. Arun says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    Senator Jim Webb does not disappoint with his clear-headed thinking. I reproduce his statement in the Senate. I hope you will discuss this at some point.
    Sincerely,
    -Arun
    Senator Jim Webb
    Floor Remarks, as Prepared
    Levin/Reed Amendment, 7/17/07
    Before I speak about Iraq, I believe it is important to mention another issue at play here tonight. What does it mean to have majority rule in a democracy?
    Harry Reid and Dick Durbin are right. There is no justifiable reason for us to be denied an up or down majority vote on this and other issues. Why should it take more than 60 percent of the members of the Senate to decide a matter of policy?
    If it took 60 votes to be in the Senate, most of us wouldn’t be talking tonight.
    I support this amendment. I have reservations about certain parts of it, and I want to make them clear. But I do intend to vote for it and I suggest to my colleagues that they do likewise.
    * The strength of this amendment is that it mandates a turn-around in our current operational policy. It would be wrong to call the “surge” a strategy. It is not a strategy in traditional terms. It is simply one more in a long line of operational experiments that have kept our military forces in the middle of a problem that, in the end, will only be resolved by the Iraqis themselves.
    * The concerns I have about this amendment are twofold. First, it does not explicitly state that this transition of missions is only an intermediate step toward an eventual – and necessary – American withdrawal from Iraq. As such, it could be interpreted as a ratification of the idea that we should keep long-term bases in Iraq.
    * Second, the amendment does not really specify the nature of this transition of missions, except in the broadest terms. As a result, this Administration could conceivably choose a very minimal withdrawal and then claim that it is within the intent of the amendment.
    And there is another, vital point that needs to be raised tonight. For the good of the country, we in the congress need to find a way to come together, on both sides of the aisle, and work toward a solution that will end our presence in Iraq, increase the stability of that region, increase our ability to fight international terrorism around the world, and allow the United States to focus on the larger strategic issues that have been neglected in large part for more than five years.
    This is the political version of the World War One Battle of the Somme. Both sides of the aisle continue to pound on each other, neither side yielding, with little or no ground being gained by either side, and little good coming to the country despite all of the energy and frustration.
    — In World War One, great nations lost their influence and inevitably their place in the world because neither side knew how to do anything except slog directly into each other, again and again, for years. This is hardly the blood bath of World War One, but the implications for our country are just as severe. We are spending away our national treasure, burning up good people, losing the good will of other nations, and have in many ways lost the moral high ground that has always characterized the United States in the eyes of other nations. We in the congress owe the country a better way. And that way begins with an honest, logical approach to the issues we face in Iraq.
    Here’s what we do know:
    1. The invasion of Iraq was a strategic blunder of historic proportions.
    2. Nothing that has happened since the invasion has been particularly surprising. In fact most of it was both predictable, and predicted.
    3. International terrorism has increased, not decreased, as the result of our invasion and occupation of Iraq. The presence of the United States military in Iraq is now the number one recruitment tool for Al Queda.
    4. It is not to the advantage of our nation or of our military to continue down the road of repetitive military operations without strong, regionally-based diplomacy that might capitalize on our military effort. This has been the major failing of this Administration from the very first days of the Iraq invasion. It is wrong – and unjust – to claim that success or failure in Iraq is largely the province of our military.
    5. This is not a classic counter-insurgency effort, as many on the other side have portrayed it. A counter-insurgency requires a defined and understandable insurgency that can be countered. In Iraq we are facing a many-headed sectarian and intra-sectarian confrontation, made even more complex by the presence of outside terrorist forces who have come to Iraq purely because the United States invaded and occupied the country. How does one build a counter-insurgency doctrine to handle that – particularly when there is no real central government that would provide a safe haven toward which citizens should move? It won’t happen, any more than it happened in Lebanon in the 1980’s under similar circumstances.
    6. It’s no accident that this complex situation has resulted in more than 4 million Iraqi refugees since our invasion. Half of those have left their homes and are internal refugees inside their own country. The other half are flooding adjacent countries, particularly Jordan, straining national resources in those countries and threatening their ability to maintain local order.
    There’s another reality, which despite all of the flag-waving rhetoric we tend to ignore when it comes to our military. We’ve watched as the finest maneuver force in the world has been put into situations again and again, in circumstances where they are on the defensive, or are sitting ducks for IEDs as they drive their convoys through territory that is easily penetrated by guerrilla forces. We’ve deployed them again and again, taking advantage of their professionalism and good will until now we have reached the absurd reality that many of our soldiers and Marines are spending more time in Iraq than they are at home. This is breaking our military force, threatening retention, and could affect our ability to act elsewhere in the world.
    And here’s what else we know: this vital region is in deep trouble, partly because of our invasion and occupation, and partly because this Administration has failed miserably on the diplomatic front even as our military has given us every ounce of its courage, dedication and proficiency.
    * Iran
    * Turkey
    * Saudi Arabia
    * Jordan
    * The American navy in the Persian Gulf
    * Israel, Palestine, Hezbollah, Syria
    * Al Queda – the most recent National Intelligence Estimate
    Only under the steady hand of strong, creative diplomacy, with our military as our safety net rather than our principal instrument of policy, can we begin to resolve these many crises. This is what history teaches us, and history has been too often ignored.
    It can be done – as in our recent approach to the situation in Korea.
    It needs to be done. And the passage of this amendment will help it get done.
    Mr. President, I yield the floor.

  7. Binh says:

    The logic of the claims now being made by the administration leads to an outcome in which the September “report” asks for more time and more troops. It will be argued that the tide has turned, a recipe for success has been found and the implication will be clear that whomever wishes to give up and go home will have stabbed the armed forces in the back and exposed the American people to the future ravages of AQinM. Part of the logic of this argument will be the present inclination in the WH and NSC to “lock” the next president into the war in Iraq thus continuing Bush Administration strategy. General Pace revealed to reporters on his recent trip to Iraq that a troop increase is among the options being considered.
    Do you think that is really what is going to happen? I think Gates and Rice pushing in the opposite direction in the admin and I wonder how much more surging the GOP can stomach without cracking.
    Also, I read many articles that talked about how the Army BS’ed its combat readiness ratings (and even sent a lot of semi-disabled troops with severe back injuries and whatnot) to get the 30,000 boots on the ground the Decider Guy demanded. How could they get more troops and how long could that even last given that the Army is hurting pretty bad? Where is the Army’s “breaking point”?

  8. jonst says:

    Pl,
    First, I think you analysis of the situation is basically correct in that COIN is out the window. For the moment…anyway. Until is deemed a useful again, from a PR perspective, (as in ‘we made a mistake again but have now brought in a new Gen and will swiftly move to plan e’.) Whatever it is the overall dynamic is the same and is easily ascertainable by anyone paying attention:
    1. what we (actually, they, the generals/officials we fired/feted) were doing before did not work.
    2. Now we figured out a new way that IS working if you will only give it time
    3.If you won’t give it time you are stabbing our troops in the back (cue to front page of a local newspaper with a story like ours had this AM. At a soldier’s funeral we were told that all he wanted (or what he wanted, in connection with the war) was for the American public to ‘shut up and let us do our jobs’.) So I believe I get how the game works….but does any of it change the following?
    1. The more we back the Sunni tribal forces the more we weaken the present govt? Our erstwhile allies. Ok, some may think that is a good thing. I just want to know if it a true thing.
    2. The more we back the Sunni tribal forces the more we threatened the Kurds? Our erstwhile allies.
    3. The more we strengthen the Sunni the more we fragment Iraq.
    4.The more we fragment Iraq the more we encourage Iraq’s neighbors to involved themselves in the fighting.
    5.The more that happens the greater the chances for a full scale war across the entire ME.
    6.Since most ME armies are not up to a full scale war then what we really mean domestic upheaval from, possibly, Egypt to Pakistan.
    Is this why we went to Iraq? Is this, assuming this outline is, roughly, accurate, why we want to continue to ‘back’ our soldiers?

  9. PSD says:

    PL
    Re: the tribals and the US forces in Anbar. “what is not a good thing is to imagine that this phenomenon was caused by increased US combat operations.” Unfortunately, that is exactly what at least some of the troops in Anbar imagine–that somehow they created the situation where the tribals are sick of Al Qaeda. The attitude I pick up through my stepson’s emails from Ramadi are that now things are so much better in Anbar, we should give things time to get better in Baghdad and Diyala. Frankly, I think it’s more like whack-a-mole in Diyala and it’s just shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic in Baghdad.
    Great posting.

  10. Serving Patriot says:

    COL,
    Thanks for another great, clear, level-headed column.
    You note: “they (DOD) will create third rate security units out of USAF and US Navy personnel to take over more or less static duties and “free up” first line troops for more offensive operations (kinetic).”
    This has already happened. Today, USN operates the major Iraqi detention centers on behalf of MNF-I (this is in addition to operating the Camp X in GTMO). There is serious discussion of USN “owning” (staffing) one of the mega-bases. Hi-skilled/hi-paid USAF airmen are already driving and protecting logistics convoys throughout Iraq. Personnel of both services are placed into these duties thru individual augmentation sourcing (taking them away from other operational units). Numbers suggest that upwards of 20K troops are already committed by USN and USAF in support (this is about 1.5 aircraft carrier battlegroups worth of personnel).
    Of course there will be no draft and the American public are already voting (witness Army recruiting). The unwilling and uncompromising nature of the Admin demands Congressional action to begin winding down military operations. W/in a year, all services will be expanding eligibility and adding recruiters to little/no avail.
    SP

  11. different clue says:

    How do we avoid the legacy
    of bitter blame which David Habakkuk warns us about? Firstly, by facing up to the
    possibility, I suppose. Whatever else neocons, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, might want; Rove’s goal should be as transparently clear as Rove’s one-track mind itself is. Rove wants the war to continue as a tool to weaken the Democratic Party and the Liberal Community (such as it is). The goal is to keep
    Surging The Course until Inauguration Day for the incoming Democratic President and majority Democratic Congress. Rove’s plan is that sometime
    after Inauguration Day the breaking army will break, and the Iraq effort will be unsupportable, unsustainable, and unaffordable. And the Democrats will be in place to take the blame for winding it down in some responsible manner. This gives the Republican Party to prepare for another McCarthyite Campaign over Who Lost Iraq.
    The only way for the Democrats to head this off is to charge into it head on
    in advance. The Democrats have to nominate a Cut And Run candidate who runs on Cut And Run, and is even willing to position that phrase Stage Center Front.
    So that when the Republicans
    accuse the Democratic candidate of planning to Cut
    And Run, the Democratic candidate can truthfully say: ” Well, DUH!!! It says so right on the bumper sticker!” That way, the Deomcrat would win only if a
    clear majority of voters were willing to vote for a Cut And Run candidate running on a Cut And Run platform. If a majority of Americans wanted Cut And Run
    and they had a Cut And Run Democrat to vote for, and that’s what they elected; then that majority would not
    feel stabbed in the back when the President Cutted And Runned. And the Republicans would get no traction with their long-planned Stab-In-The-Back campaign.
    “And that, mah fella libruls, is how we meet and defeat the Stab-In-The-Back campaign.”
    But that would require the
    primary and caucus voters to
    select the Cuttest and Runningest candidate. Can they do that? Will they?

  12. Peter Principle says:

    One can surmise that our manchild president became dissatisified with the Abazaid/Casey approach to COIN — a.k.a. doing deals with the tribes and trying to stay out of the way of Sunni and Shi’a death squads — precisely because it wasn’t kinetic enough and thus did not smell sufficiently like victory. Thus the surge, both in the number of troops and the use of air strikes, which isn’t exactly consistent with the advance billing of Gen. Petraeus as the second coming of John Vann, but I guess he’s smart enough to tell the buttered side from the dry.
    The key question (or at lesat, one key question) is whether the return to bang bang and boom boom (and the inevitable civilian deaths they cause) will undermine the deals struck in Anbar by destroying the credibility and legitimacy of those who made them.
    The sheikhs, after all, must have their reasons for fearing the takfiris — if they’re strong enough to pose a threat, it stands to reason that they must have some level of popular support or at least the ability to terrorize people into submission. The sheikhs, on the other hand, have put themselves in tenuous position of cooperating with the infidel occupiers — who are, when all is said and done, still allied with the “Iranians” in power in Baghdad.
    In other words, it’s possible that the Abazaid/Casey approach was “working” as well as anything could work under the circumstances — its chief flaws being that it didn’t satisfy the Chickenhawk-in-Chief’s desire to kill people, and it gave the Shi’a militia groups too much leeway to consolidate their hold on Baghdad (the price paid for avoiding a two-front war).
    If that’s true, then the surge is just the latest in a long line of neocon attempts to guarantee a U.S. failure in Iraq — failure being the one and only thing they’ve proven they know how to do.

  13. FB Ali says:

    Colonel,
    This is more than about abandoning COIN. It appears to be an abandonment of the whole Iraq policy followed by the administration so far (fostering reconciliation, strengthening the central government and its army, creating a viable single country, etc).
    The policy now seems to be to work on the basis of regions. The military strategy now seems to be for the US to strengthen and work with friendly parties in the different parts of the country – the Kurds in the North, the Sunni tribes and amenable insurgents in the middle, al-Hakim’s SIIC in the South. US troops, with these allies, will then take on and defeat the Mahdi militia, the old Baathists, and AQinM.
    This simplistic policy and strategy is likely to prove as much of a failure as the previous one.

  14. robt willmann says:

    The Colonel’s essay above is informative and I think correctly says that the September “report” by Gen. Petraeus will be the basis to seek more troops and more time.
    Because the Bush jr administration and its supporters want to be sure that (1) there is no independent and nationalist government or leader in Iraq, (2) the U.S., Britain, and Israel will control the oil, water, and financial structure in Iraq, and (3) some of the moral and business principles of the Muslim world are suppressed — the combat operations and troop escalation will not be reduced.
    In fact, Bush popped into a meeting of Republican leaders unexpectedly and said that he ain’t changing anything about the policy on Iraq.
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,289504,00.html
    This should not surprise anybody.
    The outlaw executive branch continues to play its game and dares anyone to try and stop it. So far, the federal courts have not and the compromised and cowardly Congress has not.
    Col. Lang points out that the new explanation and rationale is that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is (again) the number one villain.
    The pea has been slipped under a different shell.
    Remember the Frederick Kagan and Jack Keane paper called “Choosing Victory, a Plan for Success in Iraq”, which was the propaganda basis for this new so-called counter-insurgency operation? It talked about “securing the population” (from itself) by hanging around neighborhoods.
    That “plan”, now shown to have failed, spoke of the “enemy” as six main groups: “three Sunni Arab and three Shiite”, plus some criminals. Al Qaeda in Iraq is only one of the Sunni groups.
    But now we’re back to Al Qaeda, one of the original September 11 brand names advertised to the public, being again used to keep the ball in the air and maintain the three goals I noted above.
    Where will more troops come from? Additional sources to those mentioned in the essay include more mercenaries, to be used either directly or to do jobs of existing troops in order to free them up; more civilians who are not mercenaries to do jobs that Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel are doing which will put those soldiers on the ground; and more foreigners enticed into the U.S. military in exchange for citizenship (but that may be too small a group to make a difference).
    And speaking of counter-insurgency, the “federally administered” (laughter) tribal areas of Waziristan in Pakistan are heating up, and,
    predictably, the Bush jr administration is threatening to intervene in Pakistan and slap those mountain daddies around and show them who’s boss.
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/world/story/18140.html
    Well, former CIA officer Milt Bearden, who apparently spent quite a bit of time on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan, advises careful thought before deciding to bust into the crib of the Waziristan tribes.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/bearden03312004.html
    At least we’re not (yet) talking about counter-insurgency methods for Iran.

  15. Most of the present seniors in the US forces are not equipped by personality type, education or life experience for that kind of work. Their efforts (under pressure) to master the subtleties of Bernard Fall’s deceptively simple formula “Counterinsurgency = Political Action + Civic Action + Counter-guerrilla Operations” are painful to watch. they will be quite willing to accept a methodology that lets them return to an emphasis on what they call “kinetic operations.”

    This is the crux of the issue; and one that will allow us, finally, to develop a metric to measure “success” in Iraq.
    At issue is whether “success” is defined as which of the following:

    1. A chance – however remote at this late date – for a civil outcome in Iraq under some, indeed under any, meaningful definition.
    2. That members of the current establishment – in this context the current military establishment – maintain their jobs with full perks, salaries, career prospects, and similar benefits.

    Since these two definitions are inconsistent, progress towards one may be measured by regress from the other. We all agree that a civil outcome in Iraq is a fuzzy concept which is inherently difficult directly to measure. However, the employment status of the current military establishment is readily measurable.
    Therefore, a metric to establish how seriously the United States is pursuing Definition #1, listed above, would be to follow the extent to which, if any, members of the current military establishment are being replaced by other personnel.

  16. Jim Schmidt says:

    “Are not politicians — quite rationally, in terms of their concerns with their own success and survival — going to be so terrified of the ‘stab in the back’ charge that they will simply not confront the actual options in Iraq?
    And if this is so, is not the war likely simply to drag on — in the process, doing measureless damage to the position of the United States in the world and the stability of the Middle East?
    Likewise, will not measureless damage be done to the U.S. Army, and a terrible legacy of bitterness be built up among the soldiers?”
    Posted by: David Habakkuk | 18 July 2007 at 10:48 AM
    The “stab in the back” is already in play. See:
    http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070523/OPINION01/705230371/1035/archive
    John Carlson, a columnist for the Des Moines Register, published this letter written by Chief Warrant Officer Jim Funk, a Blackhawk pilot from Iowa, currently on duty in Iraq.
    CWO Funk states, “we know the American public and government DOES NOT stand behind us. Ohhhh, they all say they support us, but how can you support me (the soldier) if you don’t support my mission or my objectives.”
    Ramping up, CWO Funk charges that the “media” “indirectly kill American soldiers every day”, “inspire and report the enemy’s objective every day”, “keep rejuvenating the enemy”, and, worst of sins, “hate the George Bush administration”.
    This rancid stew of treason and treachery is further spiced by “the American public and Hollywood conducting protests rallies against our ‘illegal occupation‘ of Iraq.”
    CWO Funk has met the enemy, and they are us.
    The strong charge of treason, of treachery, of a stab in the back, teeters on a weak framework of missions overlooked, carnage over reported, and lackluster cheerleading for the “mission” from the home front. Nothing conclusive, certainly no conspiracy, just the same sort of loose, rabid jawboning heard from a bar room blowhard or a garden variety of callers, commentators, columnists and conspiracy peddlers who, among a minority of Americans, still think the Iraq invasion was a good idea.
    Mr. Carlson, as a closing comment, declares “Funk is a soldier, fighting a war, who has earned the right to be heard”.
    As Americans, we all have a right to speak, but being heard is a privilege earned. Mr. Funk, blasting away at the straw dogs of the “media”, Hollywood, protesters, and the American public, does little to earn a hearing. But, I’m hearing more of this POV, even similar phrasing, and I wonder whether there is some orchestration occurring, particularly given the Decider’s recent statement that the only role for Congress is to clam up and keep the checks coming.

  17. johnf says:

    TE Lawrence’s analysis of why the Turks lost their counter-insurgent war in Iraq – 1914-18:
    http://news.independent.co.uk/fisk/article2768261.ece

  18. rjj says:

    “Most of the present seniors in the US forces are not equipped by personality type, education or life experience for that kind of work.”
    Does our culture and education system still produce people who can do this kind of work?

  19. anna missed says:

    So, Petreaus was a kinetic troglodyte all along, I suppose the doubledown air strikes was the first clue but the Anbar thing was certainly COIN driven (nothing to do with the surge). But that success, if not already, will be appropriated into the new scheme. Unless it too is rendered moot by the consolidation of the seven most important resistance groups claiming to be anti-Baathist, anti-AQinM, and of course anti-USA. And creeping ever closer to the Mahdi gang.

  20. Cold War Zoomie says:

    “I suggest that they will create third rate security units out of USAF and US Navy personnel to take over more or less static duties and “free up” first line troops for more offensive operations (kinetic).”
    They’ve been training and deploying USAF folks for awhile now to do convoy security:
    Air Force Fills Army Ranks
    While reading the first paragraph, I assumed they were taking folks only from the “Air Force’s Army” such as security police and combat arms instructors. Not so according to the article as well as a recently discharged coworker. They’re taking folks from all sorts of techie positions, too.

  21. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Did Gen. Petraeus truly adapt to today’s world the COIN principles described by Bernard Fall in Chapter 15 of Street Without Joy? Someone in this thread mentioned the British in Malaysia and here is what Fall wrote: “And those anti-insurrectionaries which eventually prevailed over the revolutionaries did so by accepting large parts of the program advocated by the latter.”
    “Accepting large parts of the program advocated by the latter”. This may be part of the idea of “political action” mentioned by Col. Lang. So if we want to win, then I don’t see how we can ignore this principle. And if you pitch it out to today’s world — the one of an instant exchange of information — then it is easy to see that the “Commander-in-Chief” plays an essential and crucial role in that part of the formula.
    In other words, the “leader” should publicly accept the parts of the program advocated by an enemy but only the parts that in no way endanger the US. As Fall wrote: “That, in a nutshell, is what makes the difference between defeat and victory in Revolutionary War.” So to win, perhaps the USG should stress that there is a difference between Al-Q and Hamas (hat tip Abu Sinan). And does the implicit approval by the US of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank protect US security interests worldwide? In not, then do our odds of winning increase if we acknowledge the illegality of the settlements?
    Fall wrote in a footnote that “General Lansdale also made a strong plea opposing the use of heavy weapons against village targets in Viet-Nam.” General Lansdale may have been arguing against what is now called “kinetic operations”. If true, then evidence suggests we have completely abandoned the tradition of COIN that developed through the hard earned experience of the USM (and British SAS). So I cannot help but wonder if the Straussians first overtook US strategic intelligence and then went on to gut the American military tradition of COIN so to replace it with a strategy and tactics that will lead to a clash of civilizations in the Middle East.
    Sid

  22. VietnamVet says:

    Colonel,
    We’ve butted heads over the success of counter insurgency operations. My take is that COIN is a cold war relic when Mutally Assured Destruction prevented WWIII or genocide of a communist client state. COIN only worked as long as US troops where stationed in country. When US support was no longer available the puppet state collapsed; no different in Iraq.
    All US troops can do is kill, maim and destroy. The USA doesn’t have the manpower, wealth or moral justification to control the region. What happens in Iraq will be up to the Iraqis.
    It is sad and tragic. If the USA goal was other than killing Muslims, a more moderate way could be found to pump oil and jail radicals of any religion who threaten peace.

  23. Yohan says:

    Where are more troops going to come from? I thought they already took unready units out of the rotation and extended current unit assignments just to scrape together the surge, now there aren’t any units left to immediately come in.
    They’ve already reclassed non-infantry units, how much further could navy or chair force personnel be stretched?

  24. Brian Hart says:

    Sir,
    We have insufficient forces to control the outcome or complete geographic territory of Iraq and we will never get those forces. There will be no draft. The sunni tribes in Anbar turned against al-Qaida for their own reasons; they did not become pro occupier or pro Maliki government.
    It should also be stated to anyone that will listen that al-Qaida probably shifted operations to Diyala province where violence has increased 70% in recent months.
    That’s the key, the insurgency is able to move within the geographic boundaries of Iraq – like squeezing a balloon.
    We only control 1/2 of Baghdad even with the ‘surge’. We have no chance of covering it all.
    To me this simple fact – not enough troops to complete the mission – belies all other arguments over withdrawal time tables emboldening the enemy, etc.
    The 150-300,000 tons of explosives we let fall to the insurgents because we left the ammo dumps unguarded created the tools that kill 70% of our troops. There is effectively an infinite supply of weaponry in insurgent hands.
    We simply do not have enough troops. We will likely extend tours to 18 months and blame it on the Democratic Congress later this year or early 2008.
    We will likely outsource all convoy activity to private contractors to sustain fighting troop strength at the expense of deep and total financial attrition.
    Financial attrition will ultimatly cause us to pull out.
    We cannot continue to spend 4-5 times the GDP of Iraq per year to occupy it.
    We cannot continue to spend $1 million plus on MRAPs that can be destroyed by $150 IEDs in infinite supply.

  25. Poilu says:

    This “just” in:
    “Turkey bombards northern Iraq”
    Thu, 19 Jul 2007 02:08:25
    Press TV and agencies
    http://www.presstv.ir/pop/print.aspx?id=16804
    Our “perpetual war” appears to be expanding exponentially.

  26. Jon Stopa says:

    “Reaper.” I found this description of the successful British COIN in 1950s Malaya:
    ” The key to the Malayan situation lay in the fact that ONLY the British could gratify nationalist demands, and were willing to do so.”
    British Malaya–strange, I haven’t heard those words for a long time. Has anyone heard about British Malaya recently? Guess not.

  27. Montag says:

    There was an article recently that they’re already coming up with ADD-ON ARMOR KITS for the freakin’ MRAPs! And the vehicles become over-stressed with the weight of the extra armor, just like the humvees they’re replacing. They’re not even fully deployed yet and they’re already obsolete.
    And in September the first V-22 Albatross…er, Osprey aircraft will be deployed in Iraq, another over-complicated, under-performing and dangerous weapon to make life interesting for the troops.
    There was an interesting opinion piece in which the author drew a comparison between the warhawks who insist they can “smell” victory in Iraq and a boy who finds a large pile of horse manure under his tree on Christmas Day. The boy begins to shovel horse manure furiously, saying, “There’s GOT to be a pony in there somewhere!”
    A link to the article gave the telling title, “Stop digging, there is no pony.”

  28. TR Stone says:

    I believe that the present strategy is the “blind squirrel squared” one.
    We will run find new staff (blind squirrel) to pursue new plans (“x” new squirrel) in the hope that the magic acorn will be stumbled across and everything will turn out okey-dokey.
    Now Odierno’s comment about November being a new point for progress evaluation, leads to this theory.

  29. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    References to the Malaya Emergency appear on this thread, here is a bibliography for those interested:
    http://intellit.muskingum.edu/uk_folder/ukpostwwii_folder/ukpwarmalayi-z.html
    A Nepalese newspaper raised the example in 2002:
    http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/122/Nation/4287
    Here is a Canadian take per air power use in that campaign with some interesting comments on intell matters:
    http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/jfq_pubs/1622.pdf
    I am not a military specialist but I did get out to Malaysia a few times in the 1980s. I had the opportunity to speak with several retired officers from the Police who had been involved in the operations of the 1950s. My question was, naturally, “Why did you succeed?” One elderly officer (of Indian heritage), “Well, flies breed in dung.” He explained the intensive civic action dimension contained a significant socio-economic aspect that was vital. People have to feel they are secure and materially better off with you basically was the message as I understood it.
    Meanwhile in Baghdad:
    “Many of the four million Iraqi refugees who fled to Syria and Jordan in the past three years have put their houses on the market, hoping to generate some cash to help them while abroad….
    Al Jazeera spoke to a Baghdad estate agent, who would identify himself only as Abu Ali for security reasons.
    He said: “Ninety-nine per cent of those who want to sell their houses in Baghdad are afraid to live here. Some of them are professionals who had their colleagues killed and are afraid to meet the same fate.
    “Others are afraid of being forcibly removed from their homes by the militias on ethnic and sectarian grounds, and many more reasons related to security.”
    http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m34632&hd=&size=1&l=e
    And in Anbar:
    “Two Anbar Bridges Destroyed Thursday
    Insurgents Simultaneously Detonate Spans in Haqlaniya
    Anbar, Jul 19, (VOI) – Unidentified gunmen simultaneously detonated two bridges in the city of al-Haqlaniya on Thursday, local residents from the Sunni al-Anbar province said.
    “Unknown gunmen planted explosive charges under the bridges of al-Haqlaniya and Wadi Hajlan in western Iraq and totally destroyed them at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday,” an eyewitness told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
    Al-Haqlaniya bridge, 200 meters long, was one of the most important bridges as it links the city of Haditha, 170 km west of Ramadi, capital of Anbar, to the city of al-Boghdadi, while Hajlan links Haditha to Hit, the witness said.
    The bombings did not leave casualties, he said, adding Iraqi security forces and U.S. troops imposed tight security measures in the city afterwards.”
    http://www.iraqslogger.com/index.php/post/3650/Two_Anbar_Bridges_Destroyed_Thursday

  30. Chatham says:

    “I suggest that they will create third rate security units out of USAF and US Navy personnel to take over more or less static duties and “free up” first line troops for more offensive operations (kinetic).”
    Col. Lang-
    Are you aware that this is already happening? A friend of mine that returned recently was in the USAF, and he said his job in Iraq was to take over army duties (he said all army troops were combat troops now…maybe it was an exaggeration). I remember a female MP telling us, two years ago, how her and her peers were merged with combat groups, and given the same combat orders.
    I have no first hand experience myself, but I’ve heard many stories like this, and similar, and it seems that I almost never hear such things in the media.

  31. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Chatham
    Yes. I did know that, but I think that it will be necessary to do it in a much larger way. p

  32. searp says:

    I just returned from another month in Iraq. I would like to endorse COL Lang’s opinions, and provide some amplification.
    The decrease in violence in Anbar and potentially in the areas north and northeast of Baghdad are due to the arming and deputizing of Sunni tribesmen, many of whom were shooting and bombing our troops just months ago.
    This is an alliance of convenience. The troops on the ground do not trust these auxiliaries for good reason. In a region like Anbar that is completely dominated by Sunni tribes, we are simply empowering the indigenous social structure.
    In other regions – Diyala and Taji – we are empowering a group that actively contests for power with Shia militias. This cannot fail to be perceived as an unfriendly act by those Shia militias, and as a result increased attacks by those groups on American troops should be expected.
    Taken a step further, we are now arming all potential parties to a sectarian conflict – the “official” forces of the IA and IP, which are essentially Shia militias, and the Sunni tribes.
    Not only will this ultimately increase the security problems of the country, but it will also increase the threat to our forces from non-AQ actors.
    We may have purchased the destruction of AQ in Iraq at the price of the complete disintegration of the country along sectarian lines. The “success” of this policy can only be fulfilled by the rapid withdrawal of American troops from what will be a bloody armed struggle for power among indigenous groups – it is impossible to see any other outcome less harmful to American interests. If we stay, having armed all serious contenders for power, we risk being identified as the enemy of all.

  33. Marcello says:

    “I suggest that they will create third rate security units out of USAF and US Navy personnel to take over more or less static duties and “free up” first line troops for more offensive operations (kinetic).”
    And since we are at it we could call it the Luftwaffe…pardon, USAF Feld Divisionen Meindl, just to remind ourselves of what happened in the end the last time somebody went along that route. Any bet about when they will start to form combat groups out of submarine crews?
    And yes, I am being sarcastic.

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