Matthew Cancian February 21, The Army Field Manual , Counterinsurgency , provided a much-needed course change for American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan by focusing the attention of commanders on factors that are not traditionally the concern of the American military. While many commanders had already recognized that conventional tactics were ill-matched to dealing with insurgencies and had adapted accordingly, others were still fighting the insurgents on an ad hoc and counterproductive manner in In line with Maj. Why are people fighting in the first place?
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This will put current content into a more appropriate context and nuance in general, and address the primary shortfall of the current manual. All lessons learned on COIN are corrupted by the policies and purposes of the times they occur in, but provide insights into strategic understanding. Purpose for action and relationships between parties are key. Move away from definitions based on degree of violence, type of ideology, or status of parties. Insurgencies range from war to civil emergency and often occur in a blend of types, or morph over time.
Al-Qaeda conducts UW to leverage this energy and cannot exist without it. These are constants in the human domain that provide keys for solving complex, adaptive problems between people and governance. These are essential tools to initiate and facilitate action, but are not causal. Deny enabling status and popular support, particularly for regional groups like AQ. Re: the idea of a more-"generic" study of insurgency, rather than a more-specific study of our current paradigm, I vote for the latter.
In this regard, consider the following:. For the United States today, the idea of insurgency -- and especially the idea of global insurgency -- these must be understood in terms of:. OUR enduring determination and great post-Cold War push to transform other states and societies more along our very different political, economic and social lines.
The exact same people for example, with the conservative elements of various populations, and with great nation rivals that. For the exact same reason that they did back then, to wit: due to their then and our now attempt to:. Via the radical and rapid transformation of other states and societies along one's own alien and profane in the eyes of many natives political, economic and social lines.
Thus, to suggest that the difficulties that we are now experiencing -- re: insurgencies and many other issues -- these can be traced directly to our discomfort and unfamiliarity with our current role.
One which finds:. The U. Our great nation rivals taking advantage of this situation and doing "containment" much as we did back in the day. This, so as to. Effectively deny the U. So: Is it possible that such things as insurgencies, political warfare, etc. Grant, If US approaches to COIN have proven anything, it is to validate the truism that "tactics without strategy are the noise before defeat.
Russia and Iran are wise enough to not attempt to support a movement that does not believe in the legitimacy of what they ask or expect that force to advance.
We ignore this basic pre-requisite and rely on American Exceptionalism to carry the day. We are blinded by our unwaiverable belief that Clausewitz applies to all forms of political conflict and also in our American Exceptionalism as making us exempt from the laws of human nature that shape the human endeavors of all other mortals.
Not sure what you mean by your third question. We do not fail because we are not smart or do not work hard, or because of our system. We fail because we refuse to appreciate the problem for what it actually is, as that leads to perspectives that are very inconvenient to the solutions we wish to impose.
I still think we should leave doctrine to the tactical level and get out of the business of defining abstractions. Our theories of how the world works aren't referenced- in doctrine or otherwise- and therefore are just assertions. We have conventional wisdom, the people who have influence, and the people who shout the loudest. FM , like most of the doctrine I've worked on, was heavily, if not wholly, influenced from the top and what little the bottom got in was accepted more through surrender than any compelling reasoning.
Instead of coming up with our own suppositions backed up with assertions, we should look at three things:. I submit many of our problems are systemic-- and internal- yet we continue to focus on "the other. It is just that to me, breathing Leavenworth air, we are wed to a habit of defining abstract terms too soon before they have a place and time. Do we agree that it would generally be better to study a specific situation well, and, irrespective of abstract categories, decide what steps to take toward achieving our goals?
Our act of selecting and defining terms is itself an act of strategy-making equal in influence to our consideration of ends, ways, and means. If we become too rigid with our start-words, our strategy options are canalized and our tactical competence can, if our strategic lexicography were wrong, be forfeited.
Your third paragraph is harder for me. How is that? Go Royals. It is impossible to logically discuss countering insurgency, until one first understands insurgency for what it actually is, rather than what the challenged government wants it to be.
Sadly, our official definitions of insurgency and COIN are based far more on the latter than the former. Insurgency is rooted in human nature, and cares little what American generals, doctrine writers, or think tank pundits want it to be. Revolution is illegal democracy; and resistance a continuation of warfare.
When one invades, deposes, creates new illegitimate government and stays to defend it, one ends up dealing with a devil's brew of both in equal measure. Yes, thanks Bob. This is worth revisiting.
Heart of the blog stuff. I think we should leave the definition of counterinsurgency at countering insurgency, and leave the definition of insurgency to civilian lexicographers as they see it evolve in common usage. Few wars are completely internal, and, from what I can tell, as soon as any foreign intervention happens, a contest immediately becomes some sort of mixture.
I think we should take each conflict as its own category of conflict, and consider early and recurrently what it is that we wish to prevent, stop or punish, and who the perpetrators are. One more snipe: I think even looking at its appearances in this very thread, the word legitimacy is exposed as a weak vessel. I think it is used more than a times in the last insurgency-counterinsurgency manual -- inconsistently at that.
Let's have a moratorium on the use of that word; it has become an excuse and an argument more than a guide and a goal. Saw this in the "most popular" section and took a view minutes to see if my positions of three years ago were standing up to the test of current challenges. One point I would add today is that if an intervening power hopes to help cure insurgency, and not simply suppress the current insurgents, they must ensure that the population behind the insurgency perceives it has a viable political alternative, and that intervening party must also be fairly agnostic ast what type of government emerges, or who remains or rises to power.
This is not yet within our risk paradigm, and we continue to fail in support of answers we think best for us. Thanks for the clarification.
I am in broad agreement. The point you make about 'containment' COIN is a very good one. In many cases dare I say most our stargeic interest has nothing to do with nation building and everything to do with the maintenance of some form of status quo that we believe to be in our interests.
Defeating insurgency , rather than decades long dubious efforts at nation building will normally suffice for our strategic purposes. I also think that the sentiment that the doctrine needs to maintain and focus on being an 'FM' is about right. I also agree with the point that Dave M made about the utility of the previous FM's dogma being incorporated into a JP or something similar. Thanks, Bob. Roger on a lot of work to be done.
There is a JP from that is supposed to provide the below listed points and interestingly the executive summary alone is 15 or so pages of the page document and has such interesting little points such as this on page xvii:. The purpose of the IDAD strategy is to promote HN growth and its ability to protect itself from subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency.
Was there any discussion of the Joint Pub and the relationship between the FM and the JP as you indicate the potential need for? Interestingly FM is only specifically referenced twice in the text of the pub and once in the list of service publications. While there is much work to be done, and much input that is still being taken in, at the end of the day, is a "Field Manual. Now, I personally cannot imagine a type of insurgency where one would send Brigade as the core unit to design a response around.
In many ways though, this seemed to be the framing parameter for discussion. I believe the Army is correct that Brigade and Battalion Commanders need an effective, practical guide that they can pull off the shelf years from now when little expereince is resident in their unit, and have a start point for developing and guiding a COIN campaign.
My prinmary concern is that the current FM be compressed into such a guide. I think the current FM serves a much larger, broader role, and that it has problems that should be addressed and that it should be republished to continue to serve that larger role.
Perhaps that requires the manual be renamed as the Joint Pub? Or as some other category of document, maybe? If asked, I would say produce the new overarching COIN document first, then once that is done, nest under it a practical guide such as the Army is planning that can then focus on that narrow aspect of insurgency that Brigades engage without risking that we somehow imply that that is all that insurgency is, or the only way to deal with one. This will continue to evolve, and I am confident that ultimately a great deal of good will come from this process, but that it will not be a simple re-write of the current document.
Given your comment at this morning excerpted below, can you give us some additional insights into how the conference turned out? I had to watch a few videos around at AaZ's Peshawar pad about the West Bank and my Palestinian brothers getting shafted by the Zionists, smoke some serious shit and go to bazzaar. We smoke too much and it's daylight before we cross and we get stopped by the the police and we have to give them some of our US dollars we need to pay for some stuff on the way back.
We bury the first gas bottle that night and at first light BOOM! The Jordanian checks it out on the bike and comes back on a downer as it was a tractor trailer and we feel a bit like terrorists.
But someone once said 'one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter'. Cool bananas we'll roll with that.
That night we chill with some black resin and me and a few of my Pak bros plant the second. We checked the dead cops were Pathans coz if they were Tajiks we would be Revolutionary Separatists. The next two days were a bit of a blur as we were smoking the dragon's ass big-time but felt it was all pretty illegitimate with the dead women and kids.
We almost decided to go home when we lit up some of our Taliban bothers but we all agreed to say it was a suicide job that went off a bit early. WTF were they doing driving around anyway! Don't they know there's a war on.
Wow you should have seen it. We argued all the way back to AaZ's about who we were. Thanks for your reply.
FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency
About publication. The purpose of this report is fourfold. The first is to highlight the key tenets of FM The idea that sets counterinsurgency apart from conventional military operations — that it is more important to secure the host nation population than to destroy the enemy — is counterintuitive to soldiers trained exclusively for conventional war. Its rationale therefore needs careful explanation. Second, to identify what is new compared to previous counterinsurgency doctrines and theory.
Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24 and operations
It is based on lessons learned from previous counterinsurgencies and contemporary operations. It is also based on existing interim doctrine and doctrine recently developed. Counterinsurgency operations generally have been neglected in broader American military doctrine and national security policies since the end of the Vietnam War over 30 years ago. This manual is designed to reverse that trend. It is also designed to merge traditional approaches to COIN with the realities of a new international arena shaped by technological advances, globalization, and the spread of extremist ideologies-some of them claiming the authority of a religious faith.
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