In counterinsurgency circles, this is called the "oil spot" strategy. The term was coined by the French soldier and administrator Louis Hubert Lyautey, who was sent to colonial Morocco and Indochina in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In Hanoi, he watched as soldiers set up a network of military posts to protect villagers and keep out insurgents, and armed locals to defend themselves. With "pacification a great band of civilization advances like a spot of oil," Lyautey wrote.
In the months before Karl's deployment, his enthusiasm for this approach had grown so noticeable that Banger and others had taken to calling him Oil Spot Spock. Karl envisioned soldiers securing a single village or area — the first spot of oil — and using its success to spread safety and development drop by drop. Areas outside the chosen villages would be treated as battle zones, where soldiers would know unequivocally that they were at war. If the conflict were divided into hot and cool zones, Karl thought, soldiers could focus their humanitarian aid and development efforts in friendly areas and fight in unfriendly ones. They might have a better chance of avoiding an explosion such as the one in the bazaar. " Vanessa Gezen
The "Human Terrain System" (HTS) is a program for which I have a great personal regard. I helped to train some of these people. They are very good people. In an odd way, the program serves to recreate much of the work that I helped with in the Mid-20th Century. "The more things change…" In another odd coincidence, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment was my first unit in the Regular Army. We have a silver cup that was a present from the battalion's officers on the occasion of our marriage.
I read the article closely. We have been there… done that… All of it. I think that Karl is completely correct in thinking that the "oil spots," (les taches de huile) can be made to "connect" with the "grease spots" overlapping until there is not room between them for the agents of a competing vision.
The key to making that work has always been the permanency of the security offered to the people living within the "oil spots." Without effective protection, the attempt to make Karl's hope work simply makes the villagers better and more concentrated targets.
There will never be enough coalition troops to provide security for an expanding pattern of "oil spots." What has always been needed in this kind of effort is a "pyramid" of security forces beginning with village self defense groups, district forces, province forces and national forces standing in reserve to come to the rescue. In the end,coalition forces can start the process and act as a mobile reserve but the Afghans really have to do the rest themselves once they have been shown how.
I heard Jim Webb say the other day that "Vietnam and Afghanistan (were) completely different situations." Well, they are and they aren't. There are no full time VC combat units to supplement the guerrilla bands, units like the one that had destroyed the village in which I met Edward Kennedy. There is not an equivalent to the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) with its highly trained, disciplined and equipped troops. No NVA artillery, tanks, etc. Thank God. There will never be anything like that. On the other hand, there was an effective government in Vietnam. You may not like that government but it was a lot more effective than many wish to think. There is very little government in Afghanistan, very little to work with.
The biggest similarity in the two situations is we Americans. We are the same, for good or ill.
All of this adds up to an immense task, a generational task. pl