Monday, July 21, 2008

Full Spectrum Victory

Capturing the enemy’s capitol is a very important move, one which symbolizes the collapse of the enemy’s political center. But sometimes the symbolism isn’t enough to make the other guy stop fighting. Napoleon found that at Moscow, and we found it a Baghdad. Moscow was merely the place from whence Muscovite power emanated, but the command and control system was in the hands of the Tsar. The capture of Bagdad did mean the end of effective Saddamite governance, but that governance was based on a tricky balance of power between the various Iraqi components of Iraqi political power, to wit, the Shiites, the Sunnis, Kurds and Baathists diehards. Without an effective central power to wheel deal and confuse these factions, the political order returned to chaos.

Fortunately for the good guys, the troops cycling through the military school system brought back the now familiar story of the resurrection of counterinsurgency and stability operations doctrine now published in FM 3-24, FM 3-0, and in the upcoming Field Manual on Stability Operations. The last two publications at the time of this writing from Ft Leavenworth call for Full Spectrum military operations in which firepower and soft power are complementary and supplementary in achieving effective governance, essential services, and economic viability deemed essential to define a victory in terms of the end state achieved whereby the vanquished aren’t.

Gone are the halcyons days of marching the enemy’s army under the yoke on their way to the slave market, or of the carting off of art works and other attractive plunder as marks of victory. It appears that in order to win, one must both break up the enemy’s cohesion, then stitch it back again in order to call it a victory. Odd, but the lessons of Post WW 2 Germany, Japan, and Austria show exactly that.

Military victory then is not the end, but a mid point. The Soviets clearly understood that as there was a well defined post victory process of elimination of private property, and the creation of all encompassing totalitarian institutions. The whole process took a few short months in Latvia when that country fell under the Soviet yoke at the beginning and again at the end of WW 2. This old Soviet program is identical to that which Hugo Chavez has been trying to implement in Venezuela. And Chavez is not a Lenin nor is he a Stalin. The failure of the Soviet model crippled the attempt in the Peoples Republic of Vietnam in emulate it, so the new model is Capitalist Communism along Chinese models.

Hill of Crosses in Lithuania for those murdered by the Soviets

The Soviets in their heyday knew exactly what form of governance and economics their military action was geared to. The political commissars and apparatchiks knew where to go and who to lock up. The foundations of the new order was already built both outside the target country in inside.

We did something similar in WW 2 by adhering to the claims of legitimacy of the exiled governments of Europe and the support of their return to power. The same principle in Asia didn’t work as well as the incoming structure had to compete with a nascent native military and governmental structure either built by the Japanese or in opposition thereto. The Indonesian Army was originally created by the Japanese and opposed the returning Dutch, and the Viet Minh in Vietnam were in opposition to the Japanese and opposed the returning French. In Myanmar the Japanese created Burmese Army switched sides and is still in power.

The immediate occupations of Germany and Japan recognized the legitimacy of the police and courts, and were run in tandem for the first few years of occupation. The collapse of Iraqi police and governance is a situation found rare in the annals of wars from the Enlightenment on. But this all was understood in the old Civil Affairs and Military Government establishment. Plans were laid in anticipation of occupation and the preservation of order, and economic vitality were prepared, at least by the forces in the field.

US Occupation of Japan before Korea

The US government’s policy for Germany was originally based on the Morgenthau Plan which was aimed at reducing Germany to an agricultural state bereft of its industrial muscles. Likewise insufficient planning was made, but the capacity to put a plan in place by the Shogun Douglas MacArthur by distributing the tons of excess food and supplies left over from the preparations for the assault of the main islands of Japan. Lucius Clay did also, defying orders from on high to crush Germany.

The Russian way of war is to place deep cover agents in high places in their enemy’s military and political structure. This approach prepares cracks in the enemy’s inner structure which military power is applied for leverage. Even former SS troops were quickly brought into the Volks Polizei, and some German formations switched sides at the end. This also happened in Portugal when the Salazar dictatorship folded when some Portuguese Army units turned out to have deep cover Communist commanders.

Part of any plan to go to war, even in defense of the Homeland, should include provision of plans and plants in the enemy structures to frustrate their efforts and enhance our. This requires a deep understanding of the group dynamics within the prospective enemy. The British ignored a feeler from the German Army at the beginning of WW 2 to support a coup. This was ignored and millions died as a result.

Even if the inner circles of a potential enemy are impenetrable to deep cover agents of our own, the structure of group dynamics, of mores, customs, behaviors and buzz words should be kept on the ready rack.

Normally it is not practical to determine a peace time end state until the tide has turned for sure. The nuts and bolts of the WW 2 end state weren’t crafted until the Casablanca, Cairo, Tehran, Quebec and Yalta with a final deal at Potsdam after the German surrender. And even after that the Carthaginian and Draconian edicts of the US government had to be scrapped and replaced by the Marshall Plan. One might wonder what might have happened if a Marshall plan had been offered in late 1944.

The losing side has to gain something out of the agreement, something that would be useful for the losing side after an occupation. Germany and Japan got a viable economy and functioning governance, of the type recommended by FM 3-24 and FM 3-0.

We left Vietnam in the lurch in 1973 without the symbiotic logistic and fire support link between the US and Vietnam necessary for national survival as in that case, the enemy was still undefeated even though their imminent defeat brought about by Rolling Thunder had brought them to peace talks. There was nothing for the North to gain from not completing their ambition of conquest.

Likewise in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no end state on the table that would benefit the Taliban and/or Al Qaeda. As Al Qaeda is a non-state actor, no viable end state that is useful to us viable. The same is not the case with the Taliban, as effective governance or participation in governance is very much an end state desired by the Taliban, and which other parties in the area are willing to consider. This would mean an end-state like that which might have appeared should Hitler been assassinated on June 20, 1944. That would have been a very different peace than that which was imposed in 1945.

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