COIN Doctrine Under Fire

COIN Doctrine Under Fire

The vaunted counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy promoted by retired Gen. David Petraeus that guided the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has come under renewed and caustic criticism from one of its reluctant practitioners, both as a general and diplomat.

“In short, COIN failed in Afghanistan,” said Karl Eikenberry, the retired Army lieutenant general and former chief of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan who was later U.S. Ambassador to Kabul.

Eikenberry dissected and dismissed the COIN doctrine as applied in Afghanistan in a recent article for Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, titled “The Limits of Counterinsurgency Doctrine in Afghanistan.”

Eikenberry also took on what has come to be known as the “COIN Bible” – the Counterinsurgency Field Manual, or FM 3–24, co-authored by then-Lt. Gen. David Petraeus and then-Lt. Gen. James Amos, now commandant of the Marine Corps.

The “clear, hold and build” strategy outlined in FM 3–24 called for individual soldiers and Marines with the qualities of a modern-day “Lawrence of Arabia,” versed in languages and attuned to the culture and politics of the host nation, Eikenberry said.

“The typical 21-year-old Marine is hard-pressed to win the heart and mind of his mother-in-law,” Eikenberry said. “Can he really be expected to do the same with an ethnocentric Pashtun tribal elder? Moreover, T. E. Lawrence specialized in inciting revolts, not in state building.”

Without mentioning Eikenberry, Petraeus recently launched a defense of COIN in a lengthy article for “Foreign Policy.” As he has previously, Petraeus argued that the COIN doctrine plus the troop surge in 2007 in Iraq averted civil war and gave the Baghdad government breathing room to build a new democratic state.

Those gains have been erased by a new cycle of violence since the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011, said Petraeus, who suggested that a new surge was needed – this one carried out by the Iraqis.

“The ideas that enabled progress during the surge are, in many respects, the very ideas that could help Iraq’s leaders reverse the tragic downward spiral that we have seen in recent months,” Petraeus said.

President Obama has made statements that signal a lack of commitment to COIN doctrine and the push  to move the U.S. away from extended land wars in foreign countries.

“We’re turning a page on a decade of war” that involved large ground forces and occupations under COIN, Obama said in signing off on the defense strategy he approved in 2011.

“As we end today’s wars, we will focus on a broader range of challenges and opportunities, including the security and prosperity of the Asia Pacific,” Obama said.

Nation-building and the huge investments in time, troops and money involved to carry it out were no longer affordable in an era of soaring deficits, Obama said.

“We must put our fiscal house in order here at home and renew our long-term economic strength,” Obama said.

However, Pentagon officials have been sensitive not to appear to be tossing COIN into the trash heap following this past decade of war in which it was developed.

“This does not mean that we’re abandoning COIN,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at the time. Carter explained that the U.S. military will preserve “the know-how and capability” to undertake counter-insurgency operations, mostly in the National Guard and Reserves.

“Obviously our forces will be somewhat smaller” under the coming budget cuts, Carter said, and the U.S. will be looking to meet future threats “in ways other than invasion and land occupation.”

The COIN doctrine and the FM 3–24 outline of methods for its implementation initially attracted new and unlikely acolytes from the ranks of those who supported the Obama campaign of 2008.

Among them was Samantha Power, now the Obama administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, who viewed COIN as the antidote to what they deemed to be the failed Global War on Terror policies of former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

In a glowing review of FM 3–24 for the New York Times, Power wrote that “the most counter-intuitive, as well as the most politically difficult, premise of the manual is that the American military must assume greater risk in order to gather much-needed intelligence and, in the end, achieve greater safety.”

Power said that “the emphasis of the 1990s on force protection is overturned by the assertion of several breathtaking paradoxes:

“Sometimes, the more you protect your force, the less secure you may be; sometimes, the more force is used, the less effective it is; sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction.”

From his perch in Kabul, Eikenberry saw it differently.

“When the Obama administration conducted a comprehensive Afghanistan strategy review in 2009, some military leaders, reinforced by some civilian analysts in influential think tanks, confidently pointed to Field Manual 3–24 as the authoritative playbook for success,” Eikenberry wrote.

But “it was sheer hubris to think that American military personnel without the appropriate language skills and with only a superficial understanding of Afghan culture could, on six– or 12-month tours, somehow deliver to Afghan villages everything asked of them by the COIN manual,” Eikenberry said.

The COIN advocates also assumed that the policy they favored “would be consistent with the political-military approach preferred by Afghan President Hamid Karzai,” who saw the insurgency as a “made in Pakistan” effort, Eikenberry said. The continuing dispute between Karzai and the Americans “made the counterinsurgency campaign increasingly incoherent and difficult to prosecute,” Eikenberry said.

Eikenberry aired his complaints to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a series of 2009 memos that were subsequently leaked to the media, leading to a falling out with Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the overall Afghan commander.

Through a spokeswoman, McChrystal declined to comment for this article, but he acknowledged differences with Eikenberry in his book “My Share Of The Task.”

“While I may not have agreed with Karl on all matters, I always valued his analysis and judgment,” McChrystal said. He then went ahead with his version of COIN believing that “we simultaneously had to do more and also do it better.”

McChrystal said “Karl took the position that Karzai was ‘not an adequate strategic partner.’” I did not share Karl’s viewpoint, knowing that a relationship with one person, even the president, in a campaign as complex as the one in Afghanistan would not make or break the entire effort.”

Influential military analyst Fred Kagan, who consulted frequently with McChrystal and Petraeus while they were in uniform, said he had not read Eikenberry’s article but argued that Eikenberry had “put himself in a difficult logical position” by criticizing COIN in Afghanistan.

“Surely, he doesn’t think that an insurgency doesn’t require a counterinsurgency strategy,” said Kagan, now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

The deputy commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command indicated last week that the debates on COIN and how it was used were intellectual exercises with little value as the military prepares for future challenges.

“Things really are different as we come out of Iraq and Afghanistan,” Army Lt. Gen. Keith Walker said at a forum sponsored by the DefenseOne website.

COIN involved major investments in time and money, and consequently Iraq and Afghanistan “were characterized by a large checkbook,” Walker said. “You don’t have a large checkbook” in the current era of budget cuts and shrinking forces, Walker said.

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Petraeus should have read Martin Van Crevald, who said back in about 2006 that in 300 years of modern military history, NO counter-insurgent has ever won. NONE. He made that remark to a DoD and think tank audience with a few flag officers in attendance. He also told them, that we had lost in Iraq. But Petraeus and warmongers like Kagan have to come up with some kind of justification to keep the perpetual U.S. war machine going. COIN didn’t work. Just like it didn’t in Vietnam.

Surge? Give me a break. It’s called escalation. Just like Vietnam. Didn’t work either.

We are occupying foreign countries and they will fight their oppressors, which is the foreigner. Meaning U.S. Why don’t we learn? Because…Profits!

Smoking whatever it is you are isn’t really helpin’ ya Taxes.

I swear to god I have yet to hear a logical rant on Iraq. And even when you show them evidence that they are wrong they just get crazier. Like a troofer or something.

Anyways. You can’t win a COIN campaign unless certain conditions are met,

1) Be willing to send in the masses of Infantry that such a campaign MUST HAVE. (We didn’t. We are trying to move to a ever smaller more mechanized force…stupid but then so are the limits put upon the Military and its numbers by congress)

2) Keep the politicians from screwing it up-Johnson in Vietnam, Obama in Afghanistan. Telling the enemy your plans for war or telling him he need only wait a few years and you’ll be gone means you lost. After all why should the local’s help you when they know your guns will be gone in a few years and the Taliban will simply drift back from Pakistan?

3) Understand the fight, the people, the culture, and politics of the region. We have over all failed at this in every war we have ever fought. We don’t get others. Others don’t understand us either but.…

4) Have the people at home willing to see it through to the end.-Can’t win a war when the politicians are playing politics back home and fucking it all up.

5) KILL when you need to. Same as #4.

There are others. A lot of others however I don’t have the time to write them out. One thing I will say however.

Pure Democracy WILL NOT WORK. To have a nation function as a republic or a democracy or some representative government as so many westerners demand means failure time and again. Why?
Because the cultural foundations must have been layed for them to. These have never been settled in the ME or most of the world.
Hell the US today would have a problem starting again. Change the culture change the WHOLE system.

Your culture is either a winner or not. Ours has been. So have a few others though honestly not to the same degree. The Arab culture? Hasn’t really changed sense before Muhammed was born. And it spreads with fire to those to weak to stop it.

The only way COIN can work is if you completely remove the enemy, that works in every war. Kill everyone as the Huns did. So in essence the first comment is correct you cannot win a COIN war in a foreign country unless the country takes over what you are doing and is committed to it. They must not become complacent or give in, both Iraq and Afghanistan do not have the stomach for that nor the commitment. They must hunt them down and disarm and disband them or just kill all of them. They must destroy the movement that started the insurgency, the faster the better. You cannot allow another generation of these so called freedom fighters to be born, the movement must die first. Until you kill the movement or ideology you will be facing generation after generation of these freedom fighters.

COIN doctrine involves the US military assisting a Host Nation — “HN” in the COIN manual FM 3–24 — both fight off an insurgency and develop effective governance.

COIN doctrine does not include overthrowing an existing government, setting up a puppet government, fighting the ensuing resistance by advocates of the people thus displaced from government in favor of trying to establish a legitimate government.

So of course it didn’t work.

well duh, and I didn’t have to get up from my couch to figure that out ;-P

Fighting an insurgency is like playground rules. Unless you intend to be there for a century, you will leave; and the “insurgents” will come out again to claim victory. Look at OIF. They just waited, or new insurgents came.

It is probable the Sunnis will lose. They are already refugees in Syria, Jordan et al; and because they are Sunnis, they are probably fighting the Syrian government too.

Belasari nailed it in #5, and Don Bacon finishes it off.

What tears out the heart insurgents is killing. Not just killing the guys that pick up a gun and come looking for trouble on a particular day, but hunting them back to their source of support, their rest and relaxation and recovery ‘safe zones’. COIN has had success — I would count Brits in Malaysia and Kenya, and US in Philippines pretty much upsets Van Crevald’s comment that no counter-insurgent has ever won. Kill enough Pashtuns and their families, and the Pashtuns will stop sending warriors down to mix it up with us. You just gotta have the rule ‘Mess with what we’re doing, and we will kill you, your familiy, and anyone who knows you and your family, and your dog, too.’ Eventually, the village elders will self-police the more stupid and hot headed so the community doesn’t receive the vengeance.

It amazes me how someone can state the obvious and then be attacked for it. It is perfectly obvious that the COIN approach has failed and is failing everywhere it has been applied. Essentially COIN is paying off thugs in 3rd world crap holes who consolidate power while our own officers look the other way as American soldiers are killed by the same people they pay off. Once our forces leave, the payoffs stop, and there are no more American soldiers to kill, the petty dictators we financed fight among themselves for power and chaos rules. That’s not a formula for success, it’s institutionalized failure. But anyone who recognizes it as such is attacked by those who want desperately to believe that their nanny state government will take care of them and give them everything they need.

It’s like cops. Give ‘em enough guns and surplus MRAPs; all they can do is keep the peace and dynamic entry. But you can’t /make/ people peaceful and law-abiding.

The only way to secure the peace in Afghanistan is to recognize that it’s the Pashtuns that hate our guts; thus we must follow them to Pakistan. Awkward for all.

Of course, to counter them we rely on Northern Alliance warlords not necessarily known for their great human rights record. Many of the muj “heroes” are dead, only the wicked survived.

US in the Philippines early 20th Century was a success; Brits in Malaya — success; US in Central America during the 1980s –success if a bit messy. These were COIN operations. Not the kind of “Signing the Document of Surrender on the Mighty Mo” success but successes none the less

The FM states that a COIN victory happens when the people no longer support the insurgency (actively or passively), but rather support their government. The problem with an occupying army attempting COIN is that a “foreign invader” is trying to win the locals’ hearts and minds, and not the homeland army/government.

Our efforts failed because we ultimately believe that by spending billions of dollars over there, we will pacify the insurgents and gain the locals’ support. Ever hear the phrase, “bags of money on the battlefield”? Some commanders believe in it, essentially bribing the locals not to shoot at us, but they refuse to accept that it’s temporary. Hence the common phrase, “ISAF by day, Taliban by night.”

COIN can only work for the government fighting their own insurgency. For any other country’s army coming in as temporary occupiers, they’re just mercenaries.

I suppose Van Crevald discounted the Sri Lankan government’s response to the Tamil insurgency. I think you are mischaracterizing Van Crevald and I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of COIN of you believe the US is the counterinsurgent force. The legitimate (in the eyes of the population) government is the COIN force. The problem in Afghanistan is that there fails be a legitimate central government.

Thats the problem. You can win coin. It just takes going against a Military with its arms tied like a western one.

Against most enemies they just kill everyone or employ punishment tactics. They work.

I saw/heard Henry Kissinger remark that you could not win a war in Vietnam where the counterinsurgent Americans occupied the villages by day and the Viet Cong by night. That the VC would threaten the villagers, saying that if they supported the Americans they and their families would be killed. Three months later Nixon appointed him as National Security Advisor, where Kissinger became the biggest war hawk in the administration.

The US Army and Marine Corps bribe local insurgents with money (called the Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP)) to not fight us (Sons of Iraq). Same policy used in a lot of other insurgent conflicts in history.

Malaya and Philippines were eventually granted independence, which was the purpose behind the insurgency, so you can say the counterinsurgent didn’t win. The Tamils were deported until they were small enough to kill off, so probably a counterinsurgent victory. Central America? More capitalisim that defeated communist insurgents, not US COIN forces. They can’t even beat the Columbia drug lords.

If he did so, Petraeus rightly ignored your author’s unfounded claim. Several counter-insurgencies have succeeded in “modern times, read about the British in Malaysia, or look up who the Tamil Tigers are. Vietnam wasn’t an insurgency so much as a proxy war.

Overall I disagree with both sides this nation building crap needs to end not COIN.

Belesari — Agree with much of what you said here but it always strikes me as extremely arrogant to take the position that democracy is culture driven. If so, the founding fathers got it wrong. People don’t have inalienable rights.

Democracy might not look like ours but there are examples of democracies without a Judeo-Christian culture. Heck, the Greeks who are credited with inventing democracy were around before Christ.

Whether it’s the US responsibility to create democracies or protect all of them is another question but the position that certain cultures can’t handle democracy stems more from hubris than an understanding of people.


There’s a little more to those insurgencies than just independence. They were virulently anti US or Communist. The end state did not produce an anti US or communist state in Malays. Capitalism defeated the numerous insurgencies (MOSTLY Communist) in Latin America? You CLEARLY don’t know the history.

You can’t rewrite history to support a pet theory. Well you can try but it shows you don’t know what you are talking about.

COIN has a time and place (BTW it’s not a totally unique form of warfare) but if you don’t eliminate sanctuaries, it’s very unlikely one will ever defeat an insurgency.

Sorry, couldn’t disagree more. The Koran and democracy are mutually exclusive. It’s folly to try to democratize countries and populations happy with being governed by a theocracy. Label me ‘arrogant’ if you wish.

Heard of a Jirga?

I think I see where you’re going with the question, and I would say that the custom of forming a council to resolve issues between parties may present the appearance of a society embracing the rule of law (a prerequisite of a functioning democracy), but it’s likely just an illusion. Functioning courts, constitutional protection of citizens, property ownership, legally elected representatives, and above all, equal rights for both genders and all religions are all vital for a democracy, but not commonly found in theocracies.

The only we can do is hope the Enlightenment hits them too, at some point.

Christianity had its theocratic dictatorship phase; one can only hope they can pass through theirs sooner rather than later.

Eliminate sponsors and eliminate sanctuaries. Hard for us to do as long as radical madrassas exist, pumped up by Salafis the world over.

“Functioning courts, constitutional protection of citizens, property ownership, legally elected representatives, and above all, equal rights for both genders and all religions are all vital for a democracy,”

Sounds like you are describing a western Democracy. BTW, they have those things in Afghanistan. Are they perfect? Heck no but one could say the same thing for a slew of nations to include neighbors to our South…

Where is it written that wars are easy?

Maybe part of looking for easy solutions makes wars last a heck of a lot longer than they should?

How then did the USA rebuild Japan?

West Germany?

Reincorporate the CSA into the USA?

The US occupied the Philippines as the HN (“colonial” if you wish) government, replacing the Spanish; we weren’t planning to leave, until we eventually granted them their independence — which, as mentioned elsewhere in these comments was the insurgent’s desire to begin with… we just said “not yet.” That said, the original comment that “COIN can only work for the government fighting their own insurgency” is valid, since the US was fighting its own insurgency in the Philippines.

Iraq failed when Bremer decided everyone who was a member of the Baath party was to be fired — every public servant who kept the infrastructure running had to be a member of the Baath party to have the job. Nazi Germany was the same way, to work in the government, you had to be a member of the Nazi party. Instead of canning everyone who was a Nazi party member, they set up tribunals to go through the party to determine who was a member to have a job and who the zealots were. Not Bremer, he just up and fired eveyone so instead of having a signficant part of the society working with minimal pay you suddenly had a bunch of folks fired and a whole lot of time on their hands. Did they go home or being disgruntled employee, did the join the fight to get rid of the stupid invaders. The only government building protected during the looting/pillaging was the Oil Ministry not the museums or cultural sites that have thousands of years of relics but oil. What may have started as a budding insurgency become a all out fight thanks to our own incompetence.

Anybody want to consider the American West’s Indian Wars of the 19th Century as a COIN effort? (I haven’t read the manual, so am not sure if it was addressed.)

By killing hundreds of thousands and burning those places to the ground first.

Talosian, take a look at how Turkey runs itself. They’re almost entirely Muslims but build a strong secular tradition and a thriving parliamentary government. The current party in power has been there for a decade with an overwhelming mandate and is an “Islamist” party, but has hardly done a thing to force religious proscriptions on the population.

Two problems with that strategy. One, it would require us to kill hundreds of thousands to be effective and we just don’t do that anymore. The Soviets had no problem ravaging entire villages for all the good it did them. Two, you still run into the problem that our presence is temporary. As an outside force with no plans to stay they can afford to be patient.

Sons of Iraq worked as long as those men were employed. Some were turncoat insurgents, but not all of them. It helped that the Shiite government was working hard to kill or evict every Sunni in Baghdad. We told Maliki his best bet was to hire them as actual police rather than being the well armed neighborhood watch we used them as. Because he’s against the Sunnis he balked and let them go and a number of them fought back.

The Indian Wars wasn’t COIN, it was just war. They were separate nations that we forced into reservations or killed them.

The “successful” counterinsurgencies we’ve been talking about all seem to be islands. Could be something to it.

Your comments are right on the money! I have stated similar philosophies years ago.…Our politicians and arm chair generals have f########ed up every battle since Korea! and still we never learn even with the multitude of sacrifices done by Our young men and women…When you analyze the casualties we suffered in Iraq alone (almost a complete Division).it is sickening.….

Harder to control land borders than sea borders?

Though Cuba messed up and failed to control Castro…/shrug

Irregular warfare, but we didn’t treat it like a counter-insurgency. Very much find-the-village, hit-the-village, reservations-for-the-survivors.

That and ‘firing’ the Iraqi Army en masse, only to send them home as opposed to their surrender and internment, regardless of whether they posed an immediate threat or not; you suddenly had this large number of newly unemployed men with varying levels of anger and military skills. Coupled with our not securing the weapons caches throughout the country and failing to adequately secure the borders, what should we have expected (the expectations of some in senior positions in DC notwithstanding)?

This was put out by the White House and these people in charge are just following them to keep their job if you speak out against it you lose you job. Read the book call BETRAYED by Billy Vaughn and learn more. also look how many flag officer have been fired.

It’s not a matter if COIN works or not. If you’re handing out candy with one hand and directing DRONE strikes with the other which do you think will influence your subjects more. Oh, I forgot, we have a contract to purchase so many DRONES and use them to satisfy the corporate bosses. As long as they keep making their money the military keeps banging it’s head against the wall.

What’s striking in this discussion, and in the article, is the kind of discussion about success or failure that we would never make in real life. We find what works, what did not work, what parts of a policy or strategy is useful, which parts are not so applicable. What COIN represented for Iraq was a way of moving forward (or whatever direction) after years of wandering. Afghanistan is a different country, and COIN might not work there in the same way. Of course, it’s better to have languages and culture etc etc, but you do what you can.

My suspicion is that Obama should have announced we’ve done what we should, in about 2010, and rapidly withdraw troops, but leave in place what would be called an AlQuaida hunting force. Obama was dealt a very bad hand by his predecessor, in the economy and in the military situation. It’ll probably be in better shape by 2016, but that’s no fun for a president to have to get out the pooper-scooper and spend the time in office cleaning up a mess. Nixon did much the same, but also made things somewhat worse before letting go of it all.

For anyone who can find it, they should read the book The Communist Infracture of South Vietnam published by some within DOD in 1968. At the time it was a Top Secret publication but, copies began filtering out into the population around 1969. It was a scathing publication about ‘limited war’ but, also the precursor to the development of COIN. In fact, if you read the DOD publication and compare it to the current manual, it’s amazing how much has been reprinted almost work for word.

On the one hand the book condemns our tactics in Nam, on the other hand, it proceeds to outline the tactics that would eventually lead to the COIN doctrine. Something about lessons learned in Nam. In the end, all fiction really.

Giving Bribes works, but eventually you have to kill or turn the enemy. The mexicans bribed the Apache for years so they wouldn’t rob their supply and goods trains.

AFghanistan and Iraq are two diffrent ball games and it is unfair to compare the two. Every COIN has to be tailored to the situation on the ground and the variables that support the insurgency. The fact that you have country next door supporting the Taliban insurgency has really hampered our efforts and will continue to pose a problem until Pakistan is dealt with. Our primary focus in 2014 and beyond needs to be Pakistan, because the core of Al Qaeda still resides there and they have created a vast network of terror groups that cooperate with them. If we don’t do someting there is nothing that will stop Al Qaeda and the Taliban from coming back after we draw down our troops there.

Wow. I finally agree with the President on something.… It’s time to end this “nation building/endless war” crap, and get our own house in order. Let’s close the overseas bases, bring the troops back to the US, and recommit ourselves to defending the homeland, and being ready to absolutely destroy our enemies.

We need more small unit groups.…. more fast deploy troops.… and more surgical precision.… no more long term commitments to “build democracy.” If they want democracy, let them earn it themselves. When we deploy forces.… it should be either to seek and destroy, or render humanitarian aid (and even humanitarian aid should be limited to hurricanes and disasters.… this idea of “helping” oppressed people too often bites us in the ass.)

Interesting commentary. I said, long ago, that as soon as our forces left Iraq, they would revert to whatever they were before. Same in Afghanistan. The populace knows this. War has gained nothing ever since the warring parties stopped keeping the spoils. Countless lives and treasure wasted for nothing more than ideology? What’s the point?

Do not forget we “BABY KILLERS”, and Hanoi jane that were against us when I was on the ground working hard to survive and help protect my comrades (fellow marines). The people of this country suck and are worthless. I am still suffering with my experiences that happened back here in our country. In fact it was worse for me when I got back to this country than it was in the middle of a combat operation in the war.Hank

Let’s have a Lawrence of Arabia drinking game. When Lawrence is the only one thinking Pan-Arabia, take a drink. When the Arabs prove his idealistic vision wrong, take a drink.

“They will welcome us with open arms…”

Let me re-read my copy of the Declaration of Independence.

“He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.”

Yeah. Americans didn’t like foreigners coming over either. Why would foreigners like American soldiers on their shores either? And especially after one war, a decade of crippling sanctions, and another war afterwards?

Mawendt, that is so right on. Now that is how its done period. How clear and concise is that?
Its worth repeating “‘Mess with what we’re doing, and we will KILL you, your FAMILY, and ANYONE who knows you AND your FAMILY, and your DOG, too.‘
Sorry war is beyond ugly and it is hell incarnate and is a last resort but IF you want to win and keep the deaths down on OUR side then you do what needs to be done with all the available technology we supposedly have. DO NOT GO TO WAR IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO WIN AT ALL COSTS PERIOD.

Is this it? https://​ia601701​.us​.archive​.org/​1​7​/​i​t​e​m​s​/​c​o​m​m​u​nis

Power said that “the emphasis of the 1990s on force protection is overturned by the assertion of several breathtaking paradoxes:

“Sometimes, the more you protect your force, the less secure you may be; sometimes, the more force is used, the less effective it is; sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction.”

Really? Just figured this out? Any Star Wars Geek or fan of Carrie Fisher could have told you that in 1977

But saying it and doing it are two different things. Let’s see some of these folks out there doing what they claim. And in general the whole thing fails since the whole goal of Islam is to enslave everyone. Maybe in non-Muslim countries, this would be great– like Korea where they have a sense of honor and integrity, but for a culture that teaches its members to hide behind women and children? That its OK to shoot a little girl in the face? That its OK to burn your women alive if you suspect them of sexual activity? That a family which has no male member for any reason is to be shunned? To lie cheat and steal from non-members is perfectly fine? Yeah, not happening.

Actually, that is an issue Turkey is currently having– the Islamist party running the show IS trying to force its beliefs on the rest– they are trying to impose Shariah, and have torn up more than 3/4s of the public park commemorating their liberator who introduced the secular government and made it all but illegal for extremely religious individuals to partake in government. Those restrictions were removed, and now the pro-Shariah are trying to take over

Tim, that’s it but, it’s in pamphlet form with only about 200 pages and was originally published by DOD, not the US Army. The book itself is about 800 pages. I happen to have a copy of the book I obtained in 68…don’t ask :-) I’ll pull it out of one of my many book boxes and check it’s length. If I remember, the book was in excess of 800 pages and it was an oversized book with oversized pages. I’m sure by reading what you presented, the 200 pages will give you a good idea of where the COIN principles came from.

COIN is just one in the long list of failed theories on how loose a war. Flush it down the sewer where it belongs.

I don’t know how many had read about Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, one of the most brutal terror orgainzations that practised and mastered suicide attacks, maintained an army and navy of guerillas, maintained an ‘air force’ with some couple of light aircraft. Sri Lankan forces decisively and comprehensively defeated them in 2009, with little attention after a prolong 30yrs. The human cost was huge through out decades, with human rights concerns during last stages of war. What there strategy was; decisive and robust political will though under pressure internationally, innovative military tactics to counter guerilla tactics, public/wide national support for military, expansion of military, restrictions/directions for media/NGOs, good intel network expanding to corporation with overseas intel organization, to name a few. Sri Lanka is under pressure at the moment due to large Tamil diaspora influence internationally who funded insurgency previuosly, however they were succesful in defeating insurgency/terrorism militarily for the larger benifit of the Sri Lankans. A case study I guess!!

Military Industrial Complex comes to mind. Warfare requires logistics in order to be effective. In the majority of American involvement the host country doesn’t have the network in place to support mass military influx. Roads have to cleared, widen and/or built. Combat support bases, airfields have to be built or extended. Medical Aid Stations erected. etc… Humanitarian Aid such as that being provided to the Philippines Island demonstrates in a small way the complex mix of money, manpower and equipment involved.
Bottom line it creates jobs. Jobs that employ Americans to produce firearms, tanks, ships, planes, ammunition, etc.. It’s not about winning hearts and minds. Corporations love it when diplomats comment the U. S. into foreign conflicts.
It’s not about victory. The U. S. has the ability to destroy the infrastructure of any foreign country within a matter of weeks without American Combat Forces on the ground.
I’m a 3 tour combat veteran of the Vietnam War. U.S. Marine Corps. In that war we never destroyed North Vietnam’s source of supply or killed their leadership. Russia and China provided all the items they needed.
By the way in order to become a high ranking General/Admiral you resume’ does and will demonstrate a high ability to kiss the ass that promotes you. They forget that at one time they were “Butter Bars” and lived among the “Troops”!

Nice observation, tmb2. Maybe something to it. No infiltration and no easy resupply.

But the warmongers forget that every time the U.S. invades a country with it’s well-organized, well-equipped, well-trained and well-financed (mainly with borrowed Chinese and Japanese monies) military, insurgents (usually the ultra-conservative portion of the local population who objects to ANY invader, regardless of their purpose) counterbalance with a cheap solution, like drones (think 9/11), car bombings, and IEDs. Trying to develop, modify and continue to rationalize COIN hasn’t helped the U.S. military. The last three major “wars” we fought — Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan — were/are all losses!

But it does support Van Crevald’s final observation about “Why War?” Men like to KILL. And they like to kill each other! COIN is just a doctrinal application on how to kill.

It’s not even that good. It’s as if the cops were paying off the mob bosses so they won’t commit crimes and then pointing to their tactics as “successful”. You are right, you can’t make people be peaceful and law abiding, but when you pay criminals to cease crime, the consequences later are much worse than they would have been if you’d never been there.

54,000 dead Americans would argue that there was nothing “proxy” about it.

Obama says that out of one side of his mouth and then out of the other negotiates a “deal” to keep troops in Afghanistan forever. You’re better off believing his actions than his words, just like all the other liars.

Counterinsurgency worked for Ho Chi Minh.….….….….….….….…..


Shawn, do you have any news links to this? I’ve been studying Turkey for a couple months and haven’t seen anything like this. The biggest argument the AKP had with the rest of their Parliament recently was to give women the option of covering their heads. They do have an agenda of relaxing Kemalism, but women are still allowed to work and hold high office and western living standards and culture are still popular. I haven’t seen anything to suggest Shariah is being brought up in Turkey. From what I’ve read they’ve been in power for over a decade and haven’t done much to make the country very Islamic.

And even then, the occupiers withdrew and the local savages continued status quo antebellum, with some trivial changes (Big Government 13, 14, 15th amendments)

LRS51st, what are you agreeing with the President on? He’s trying to get a deal with Karzai to keep us there for another decade but with a really small force.

tmb2 — At points they were wars for land but some were also COIN. The Seminole wars and phases where Indians used our northern/southern neighbors as sanctuaries (aren’t the only examples) are classic COIN situations.

I’ll tell you what works.…the US should mind there own business, and stay out of second rate, two bit countries…let them fight their own battles. When we are faced with countries that actually threaten our interests, and I mean directly threaten our interests, no troops.….lots and lots of DRONES.…nothing kills better, and there is nothing more effective against terrorists like our own weapon of terror (Drones).…RESULT.…lots of dead terrorists, no dead troops. If things get really bad, try 2–3 aircraft carriers.

Part 2
From The Ugly American to Ben Sklaver
October 6, 2009

The Ugly American, itself, stands as a handbook on this difficult topic. The reason George Will and others of his ilk can point to the failures of nation-building is because most times it is done poorly. Anything done poor is doomed to fail. But building nations encompasses more than providing fresh water to villages although that or similar steps are absolutely essential for building the trust that must come first. But nation-building also means gaining a deep understanding of the culture of the people and finding those pressure points in the society that may form the fragile foundation for what may grow, if not into our form of a democracy, into a society that has some elements of representation or at least civility. Too often, we expect nations not steeped in a history handed down from Greece to Rome to England with documents like the Magna Carta and the Statute of Westminster II (right of common men to own land) to automatically take root but that is never the case. As General Edward Lansdale, who might be called the godfather of nation-building, once said, “don’t confuse the mechanics of the system we Americans have developed with being the only way they can be used. Learn to recognize these profound truths…in cultures of others.” Lansdale, who was also portrayed as the character Major Edwin B. Hillandale in the same The Ugly American successfully engineered the defeat of the Hukbalahap guerillas in the Philippines in the late 1940s by tutoring then-defense secretary Ramon Magsaysay into making reforms favorable to the Philippine people that deprived the Communist of their base of support. Lansdale instilled the seemingly still quaint notion in much of the world that the first responsibility of a government is for the security of its people rather than to merely tax and abuse them. This is the nation-building, done right, that Will damns–and it worked.

So, the question of the 40,000 troops requested for duty in Afghanistan remains before us. What questions should be asked? On what facts will our leaders make their/our decision? What is at stake that has not been clearly articulated? For my own self, I harbor great doubts on the success of this mission except if Gates, Petraeus and McChrystal pledge to the American people to set goals, milestones and employ real nation-building to meet them. Merely using a “shoot’em up more than they do us” is doomed to failure as that current tactic appears to be every day producing more terrorists than we kill. The nature of the troops we send and their skill sets need to be honed to the skills to win hearts and minds — 40,000 Ben Sklavers if you will, who can defend themselves if need be but whose primary mission is to deprive Al-Qaida and/or the Taliban of their base of support by physical improvements in their lives be it water or growing non-drug-related crops, humane treatment and respect rather than the all too common US dehumanizing of others. US Special Forces used to be trained to do this. The US Marine Corps Combined Action programs were among the most successful in similar ventures. If we are going to stay, let’s learn the lessons, do it right, set the goals BUT recognize when and if we fail and use a predetermined exit strategy to disengage swiftly with no remorse.

I just think coin was not applied correct.
An invasion of the tribal area across the border would have bin more effective..
then search n clear n sit n hold

These guys all ought to reread Chapter 4 of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, which explains why the successors of Alexander the Great, having conquered the Persian Empire, had no difficulty in retaining control after Alexander’s death

There is no question that, using Machiavelli’s lens, Afghanistan resembles his portrayal of France as a uniquely difficult land to secure, as compared to Turkey and Persia, whose powers of resistance were eviscerated by despotism. One might therefore update the inquiry, and COIN doctrine, accordingly.

Americans have no balls. They want men to go win a war for them, but then won’t support them when they do what is necessary to win. All this mock outrage over the torture that supposedly “didn’t work”. Hell, sometimes after you threw a little gasoline on captured troops you didn’t even have to light a match before they were telling you everything they knew. And we don’t kill women and children? Tell that to the 100,000 women and children that died in Hiroshima or Nagasaki or Dresden. When you go to war you go to war. It’s not supposed to be a fair fight and you don’t just go to war with “the bad guys”, you go to war with the entire nation. When we were men enough to do that we won. Now we lose and blame our lack of guts on the guys who fight or the COIN doctrine or whatever when the truth is we, as a nation, are holding an empty sack.

The Seminole Wars started with Andy Jackson’s unauthorized invasion of “Spanish” Florida to recapture escaped slaves from Georgia, who fought the “Americans” even more fiercely than the local Indians.

It then turned into a land grab to support white Americans living in Florida (does the expression “illegal immigrants” ring a bell?) who, naturally, wanted the more agriculturally productive Indian lands. The Spanish didn’t really have a military force in Florida to stop the “incursion” (think Cambodia).

Spain ceded Florida in 1819. There were two more wars after that…

I would contest the idea that we are moving to a “smaller more mechanized force”. Smaller, quite likely, but more mechanized, not at all. The constant call of the think tanks to preserve or expand Special Ops force structure exemplifies the issue. And a 1/3 increase in infantry squad size is just that.

But the record in Iraq suggests that democracy DID work, but not in the manner envisioned or desired by US policy. Democracy put a government in power that worked against US interests, for Iran’s interest. That government was and remains committed to the suppression of the Sunni minority, with little regard for the human rights of Sunnis and other minorities (e.g. the few remaining Christians) in Iran. We see a similar scenario in Syria. What to do ? Clearly one can stand aside and let the fire burn out on its own — but can you control the burn ? How do you do that ? A legalistic enforcement of COIN doctrine gives us few answers. Culture is just the trimming on power’s turkey meal.

Stephen Melton argued for utilization of Martial Law, and the stiff enforcement of that regime to the point of decimating local population — his was an attrition-based strategy. Melton argues later in his book, “The Clausewitz Delusion”, that one should stay at home if one does not have the stomach for harsh measures.

Me, I prefer Machiavellian amorality and realism demands that one exceed the boundaries that prevent us from winning. Hence you may need to engage in long-term term occupations, remorsely revolutionary struggles, and all the rest. Stay honorable, and seek humanity, advancing your own beliefs without becoming someone’s patsy.

The VC were just as ruthless and thuggish as Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Sadr militia. The first of the principles of war is the offensive. Take the fight to the enemy. This may mean widening the war, but what of it ? What are the real consequences of doing that, in an world where US power is dominant, the balance of power fails, and deterrence hasn’t been talked about in years ?

Actually, the Union occupation of the South during the Reconstruction period was classic COIN. While many former Confederates accepted the outcome of the Civil War, others went underground, so to speak. While the Ku Klux Klan was unable to revive the Confederate States of America, it did defuse the Reconstruction, and derailed the South for a century. We are still incapable of having an honest conversation about what it would have taken to make things right in the South after the Civil War.

So what’s your offer? A military tribunal, where Government service grants citizenship? I won’t accept any kind of authoritarianism, as it leads to absolute corruption withing years, as opposed to centuries as our did. I agree we need a different form. But again, I am wholly dedicated to the Constitution, and think it can work if people will go back to interpreting it literally, as opposed to this new brand of desconstructionism that reared it’s ugly head some 30 years ago, and now pervades our system. Your thoughts?


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