Saturday, December 9, 2006

Military Review (MR) on Counter Insurgency

I recommend to all and sundry to read the current edition of Military Review, a special edition regarding Counter Insurgency (COIN). This compilation is a comprehensive, albeit sometimes excessively verbose, summary of the essence of how to deal with circumstance such as the current unpleasant. In short, it is good governance that is the objective of Counter-Insurgency. It is water, food, income, and a modicum of security.

I agree, but say that such is the same role for the military within the context of any war. It is not a grunt on the ground, but a cop on the beat that counts. A cop backed by courts and sanctions that effectively enforce policies supportive of the victors’ best interests. It means, most often, enforcing the treaties they sign.

After Treaty of Westphalia (1648), Europe tried to ameliorate the barbarities of warfare that had nothing to do with combat operations. Rape, pillage, and plunder and butchery of the beaten became less politically correct as Europe moved into the Enlightenment. And as a practical matter, given constant switches of conquest, it became useful to use the existing political structures including the mayor, council, courts and cops. Clausewitz wrote his gaggle of aphorisms after the Napoleonic Wars when thing appeared to have returned to enlightened normality and assumed that defeat of the enemy’s military constituted victory in war. He forgot about the part where the defeated were typically sold into slavery or gutted for fun or sacrifice.

Islam did not go through the Enlightenment, and after centuries of Turkish occupation, had forgotten their own enlightened period under the Caliphates before the Turks, Mongols and Crusaders came. And the Pentagon forgot, if they even knew, of the necessity for maintaining the pride of the enemy’s warriors by recruiting them into the King’s service. As well as their cops, courts, and sanctions, upgraded of course by the introduction of the Common Law (or Code Napoleon) .

US Civil Affairs/Military Government (CAMG) units in WW2 certainly understood the need for maintaining the appearance of continuity. Unfortunately the term “military government” became politically incorrect although the Civil Affairs units themselves were not changed, but put out to pasture by a Warrior cult. And in Iraq, Civil Affairs were committed piecemeal and their advice ignored by the Warriors on top.

Fortunately, the US Army’s educational system for senior officers includes full spectrum conflict resolution with the Chosen Few groomed at Georgetown and given Masters degrees in international relations. Military Review cites the commanders of the 101st Airborne, and the 1st Cavalry (my old unit) as excellent examples of how governance and the minimum services of life defeat insurgency quicker and cheaper than firepower. In Sadr City, there was a near perfect correlation between sewage in the streets with terrorist cells and incidents.

Returning vets from Iraq, however, note that once they get the terrorist situation under control, they or their next higher gets “rotated” out and new guys come in with a new way of doing business. No way to win a war.

The COIN word is back in vogue like it was before CORDs. The word Counter Insurgency is a double negative which isn’t a positive. We defeat the Iraqi insurgents over and over again, just as the Israelis do to the Palestinian terrorists. It doesn’t do any good. And the insurgents are encouraged by Hitler’s dogma of “Triumph of the Will”.

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