COIN & the use of Conventional Forces in COIN.

Diamondback 2/2

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I am not a COIN supporter and I have many reasons as to why I am not a supporter. In an effort to further explain why, I am opening this thread with my personal opinions and short studies in regards to COIN. Now before stating that I am 100% against COIN, I must say that I do believe that counter insurgency is possible; however I do not believe so under the current format of the FM 3-24 COIN Manual and I do not believe it is a capability that the conventional forces should focus on.

I have been told time and time again that COIN can and has been successful; however I have failed to see so in current history. El Salvador was a COIN war based off of what I read and yes it was successful in stopping the “revolutionist”, but how was that success measured? Results of a war torn, economically failed country that its biggest export is narco-terrorism into our own borders? MS-13 anyone? But before I get side tracked with the results of that war, how was that war won? What did the “Americans” do to win that war?

Well based off of what the unclassified information I have read says the Americans supplied the El Salvadorians with weapons, munitions and training and many cases advised them in the field. The El Salvadorians waged a very intensive, very bloody battle and very political war with the insurgency basically killing off the insurgency capabilities and its “USSR/Revolutionist” leadership. So in that aspects yes it was successful, however large surging conventional forces were not used, it was primarily kept out of the US media and the overall success has lead to a country left in shambles that is now imbedded with narco/AQ terrorism and is a hot bed for an insurgency that is currently taking place in the United States. So how affective has the outcome been?

Other example of this same problematic concept of COIN are seen around the world and brings me to my personal point of view on counterinsurgency. I am not looking at it from a theater of operations success, or an overall success of a campaign. I am looking at it from a strategy or otherwise strategic goal success. It’s not that we can’t stop or slow down an insurgency enough to “scream success” and back away from that theater of operations. We did this very well in Iraq, however what is the overall success in meeting our strategic goal for Iraq (a stabilized, pro-western democracy in the Middle East). Based off of the information I am getting out of Iraq by people I trust, it has failed to deliver the outcome we wanted based on the strategic goals we had set. So is it a success or a failure?

Other issues to point out; we were not 100% successful in defeating the insurgency in Iraq based off of our current COIN FM, we were greatly assisted by the sons of Iraq taking a step up to the plate and the insurgency took a step back due to the overall understanding that the US was going to pull out as soon as the country looked stable. Resulting in US forces stopping combat operations in Iraq and withdrawing combat troops. Now the insurgency has stepped back up and is currently pulling IA/IP troops into their ranks and surging their terrorism warfare efforts to further alter the stability of Iraq’s political system.

Now onto Afghanistan, we have a few Generals saying hey Iraq was a success and wanting to apply the same COIN tactics to that theater or operations to hopefully gain the same outcome. The problem is that Iraq was not truly successful, that Afghani people are different from the Iraqi people and that the warfare in Afghanistan is different from the warfare used in Iraq. Yes they both have suicide bombings, IED’s and basic terrorism. But the major difference is that the fighters in Afghanistan are better fighters, more dedicated to their cause and fighting in terrains that we cannot easily access. We did not have these problems in Iraq…

So what is the picture I am painting here? It comes down to the primary focus of the war and the strategic goals of the war. What most people fail to remember is that Iraq and Afghanistan are not “individual wars” but ongoing “theaters of operations” in a war. The “Global War on Terrorism” not the “Global War on Insurgency”. We are fighting a war against terrorist organizations and the countries that support those organization, and we should not be getting caught in this bog down of “nation building” of nations that harbor terrorist and their organizations. There is a reason why they support the organizations in the first place, there is a reason why the countries have been threats for thousands of years and nothing that we do in a 10 year span is going to change those nations.

So what is the correct doctrine? In my opinion it is counter terrorism and unconventional warfare. The use of UW assets in countries that we cannot directly engage (Iran, Pakistan, Chechnya ect) and the use of CT against countries that we can directly engage, Iraq and Afghanistan. We could also use a combination of the two in Pakistan. Getting away from the use of massive campaigns with large logistical support networks, getting away from the need of major conventional forces for long periods of time and allowing our political system and our people to see a direct result (we went in, we destroyed them, and we pulled out).
It’s not that I am stating that we should not assist other nations; I just think we should do so when they come to us and ask for it. It’s not that I am saying that our boys and girls are not doing a good job in Iraq/Afghan, it’s that I am saying we got off track on what the mission was. If COIN is going to be used use it in a capacity similar to El Salvador where large surges of conventional forces are not used. Use it in a way where the American soldier is not standing on a street on patrol of a nation he could care less about, getting his arms and legs blown off. Use it where it can be affective…

So anyway, there it is. This is my point of view and my reasoning’s. I am sure that some of you will say I am wrong and that’s fine; just realize that I did not develop my point of view over night. Although some of you may think I am retarded, I do actually study warfare and I am huge military history buff. My opinions are formed based off of my interests and studies in those areas along with my personal experiences. No I am not SOF or SF and no I am not claiming to know their capabilities outside of what an FM says. I am only spelling out my opinions for annoying “I hate COIN posts”. }:-)
 

skeeter

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I like the ideas behind COIN, and believe it can be extremely useful in the right context. However, I think that COIN is an SF mission. They are the guys trained to do that, and without the proper training it could be easy to screw up. I also think that the COIN operations being conducted by conventional forces we are hearing about more and more often are not truly COIN Ops, but the changing of the rules of engagement to create a "friendly" environment for appearances sake... Just my humble opinion base on what little I understand.

Well based off of what the unclassified information I have read says the Americans supplied the El Salvadorians with weapons, munitions and training and many cases advised them in the field. The El Salvadorians waged a very intensive, very bloody battle and very political war with the insurgency basically killing off the insurgency capabilities and its “USSR/Revolutionist” leadership. So in that aspects yes it was successful, however large surging conventional forces were not used, it was primarily kept out of the US media and the overall success has lead to a country left in shambles that is now imbedded with narco/AQ terrorism and is a hot bed for an insurgency that is currently taking place in the United States. So how affective has the outcome been?
Do you think we could be more successful if the media today wasn't allowed into modern war zones? Just wondering about opinions on this.
 

pardus

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COIN if used properly is a very effective tool and the best strategy to use when faced with an insurgency.

You say
I do actually study warfare and I am huge military history buff.
which is great, you can read about some successful COIN operations.
Here are a couple...

Dhofar

Malaya


It’s not that I am stating that we should not assist other nations; I just think we should do so when they come to us and ask for it.

We cannot afford to be isolationist, in fact we need to be proactive, Identify areas that may become trouble in the future and start COIN immediately, well before bullets start flying, hearts and minds, when we are the good guys doing good things in an area/country it will be that much harder for the enemy to subvert the populace and if bullets do start flying we already have local contacts etc... to start us off one or more steps ahead of our enemy.



We are fighting a war against terrorist organizations and the countries that support those organization, and we should not be getting caught in this bog down of “nation building” of nations that harbor terrorist and their organizations. There is a reason why they support the organizations in the first place, there is a reason why the countries have been threats for thousands of years and nothing that we do in a 10 year span is going to change those nations.

We must nation build, that is essensual to COIN.

If we use your plan and kick ass then leave what happens? They regroup and start again, then we must go back again and again, all the time the country is falling further and further into ruin making it more and more likely to be suseptable to fall under the influence of the enemy until the point that it is an entirely hostile populace and country that will side with China/Russia/North Korea/Iran etc.... What did we achieve? We kicked ass over and over and drained our economy and killed our troops.

COIN is the best thing for an insurgency. It's as simple as that.

Now, the problem is...

COIN isn't always used correctly.

Lets use El Salvador as you brought that up. I don't know shit about that conflict at all but I will address what you wrote.

El Salvador was a COIN war based off of what I read and yes it was successful in stopping the “revolutionist”, but how was that success measured? Results of a war torn, economically failed country that its biggest export is narco-terrorism into our own borders? MS-13 anyone?

So you say the economy failed and the country is worn torn, then COIN was not used properly (BTW you advocated not nation building earlier, here is an example why we need to. ;) ).

Coin will fight the insurgents with bullets while convincing the populace to not follow the insurgents and instead follow our side because of the much better life they will have with us.
That includes building up the infrastructure of the country as well as the economy.

So ideally the populace sides with us, feeding us intel about the insurgents who we defeat militarily. the fighting slows and eventually stops altogether with either total defeat or bringing the insurgents to mainstream politics and becoming part of the country/govt.
We aid the country become economically strong and we trade with them, benefiting both countries.
That country is now an ally who helps us in many ways in that particular region.

The US doesnt have a great track record with COIN unfortunately so I can understand your frustration etc... with the concept but you must understand that is the failure of people in command as opposed to COIN itself.


Scotth.

Do you think we could be more successful if the media today wasn't allowed into modern war zones? Just wondering about opinions on this.

The media should NOT be allowed in a combat zone, period!

Look at the Dhofar operation years long and successful and the media was no where to be found, the operation free to do what it needed to win and it did. Just one small example.
Look at Vietnam, if the media had been kept out I'm sure we would have won that war. Could you imagine the world today if we won in Vietnam?

The Military has it's own media so they can gather the stories and pass them on to the mainstream media if the Military/govt thinks it's appropriate.


That's all for now :cool:
 

pardus

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Can a mod delete post #3, fucking annoying now that I cant edit my posts lol danke.
 

pardus

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http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/usmc/irreg.pdf
I have been trying to understand COIN and a lot of what I read seems to be left to interpretation. The attached was published in 06 and appears to be accepted. Would this doctrine be considered coin in a broad sense?
bill

I read into page 5 and I would say yes this is a good COIN publication. :2c:

Interesting that Clausewitz espoused this approach as well.
 

AWP

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"COIN" and "conventional" go together like oil and water. It isn't that Joe Snuffy 11B CAN'T perform COIN, he is UNTRAINED to performed COIN. Having skimmed 3-24 I had to laugh at how it presented SOF in Chapter 2. Even the Army's FM couldn't agree on how to use SOF or how important SOF's role is in COIN.

Line units performing COIN without extensive training in COIN are doomed to failure. Even Pardus' excellent examples were of the SAS.
 

Diamondback 2/2

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Insurgency and its tactics are as old as warfare itself. Joint doctrine defines an [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic][FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]insurgency [/FONT][/FONT]as an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict. Stated another way, an insurgency is an organized, protracted politico-military struggle designed to weaken the control and legitimacy of an established government, occupying power, or other political authority while increasing insurgent control.


[FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic][FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]Counterinsurgency [/FONT][/FONT]is military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency.

These definitions are a good starting point, but they do not properly highlight a key paradox: though insurgency and COIN are two sides of a phenomenon that has been called revolutionary war or internal war, they are distinctly different types of operations. In addition, insurgency and COIN are included within a broad category of conflict known as irregular warfare.


Okay so this is from FM 3-34 (COIN), the problem is that anything and everything can fall under “insurgency” and anything and everything can fall under “counterinsurgency” and that starts the frustration for me. I do not believe that a civil war can be described as an insurgency, however I do believe a revolutionary war can be described as an insurgency. I do not believe terrorism can be described as an insurgency, it is what it is “a criminal tactic used to terrorize a population” and we are at war with groups who use terrorism against our nation and allies….

There are two things that took place in Iraq when I was there, a civil war between two ethnic groups and terrorism. Insurgency was not one of them in my personal opinion.

al-Zarqawi was a terrorist, he was a member/leader of AQ-Iraq. Counterterrorism is what killed him.

al-Sadr's is a militia leader who started a civil war, his followers were not defeated and he is now still raging his civil war. COIN did not defeat him or his militia b/c they are not insurgents, they are Iraqi’s fighting for what they believe in.

What should have happened in Iraq (after the removal/capture of saddam) was the hunting down and killing of any AQ using “counterterrorism” and we should have stayed the fuck out of the civil war process of Iraq’s politics. Or we should have aloud the Bath party to retake control of the country and used that card as a war effort support system. Because we interfered we were forced to fight a two pronged offensive, a civil war control if you would and counterterrorism. If we would have aloud the civil war to run it’s course and applied our primary focus on CT, we could have killed/captured more of the people we wanted too and Iraq would not be restarting their civil war again. The same way we try to play politics in all these other nations, we don’t need to be involved in that as a Army. That is for the politicians not the soldiers, we execute policy not make it.
 
Pardus, great point’s and thank you for the reading material, I’ll need to read up on this stuff before I respond to it…….. However it is obvious that we disagree on many level of COIN.
 

pardus

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JAB, terrorism is not a form of warfare like civil war or and insurgency, terrorism is a tool to use while conducting an insurgency or civil war etc...

Most use it and it's very effective.

Iraq is a classic insurgency. Local and foreign fighters supplied by border countries trying to turn the populace against the govt in order to take control of the country. Pretty clear.
They used terror very effectively as a weapon.

One case I could have cited as a victory in COIN was Borneo, but I think it falls outside of an insurgency because that was mainly a foreign power fighting inside the allied country to overthrow/take control. Not really an insurgency because the locals weren't really involved in the fighting for the most part.



Okay so this is from FM 3-34 (COIN), the problem is that anything and everything can fall under “insurgency” and anything and everything can fall under “counterinsurgency” and that starts the frustration for me. I do not believe that a civil war can be described as an insurgency, however I do believe a revolutionary war can be described as an insurgency. I do not believe terrorism can be described as an insurgency, it is what it is “a criminal tactic used to terrorize a population” and we are at war with groups who use terrorism against our nation and allies….

There are two things that took place in Iraq when I was there, a civil war between two ethnic groups and terrorism. Insurgency was not one of them in my personal opinion.

al-Zarqawi was a terrorist, he was a member/leader of AQ-Iraq. Counterterrorism is what killed him.

al-Sadr's is a militia leader who started a civil war, his followers were not defeated and he is now still raging his civil war. COIN did not defeat him or his militia b/c they are not insurgents, they are Iraqi’s fighting for what they believe in.

What should have happened in Iraq (after the removal/capture of saddam) was the hunting down and killing of any AQ using “counterterrorism” and we should have stayed the fuck out of the civil war process of Iraq’s politics. Or we should have aloud the Bath party to retake control of the country and used that card as a war effort support system. Because we interfered we were forced to fight a two pronged offensive, a civil war control if you would and counterterrorism. If we would have aloud the civil war to run it’s course and applied our primary focus on CT, we could have killed/captured more of the people we wanted too and Iraq would not be restarting their civil war again. The same way we try to play politics in all these other nations, we don’t need to be involved in that as a Army. That is for the politicians not the soldiers, we execute policy not make it.
 
Pardus, great point’s and thank you for the reading material, I’ll need to read up on this stuff before I respond to it…….. However it is obvious that we disagree on many level of COIN.
 

Diamondback 2/2

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JAB, terrorism is not a form of warfare like civil war or and insurgency, terrorism is a tool to use while conducting an insurgency or civil war etc...

Most use it and it's very effective.

No terrorism is a tactic, used by criminals to cause fear.


Iraq is a classic insurgency. Local and foreign fighters supplied by border countries trying to turn the populace against the govt in order to take control of the country. Pretty clear.
They used terror very effectively as a weapon.

There was no government when the civil war started, and the terrorism used by AQ-Iraq was a totally separate issue.

One case I could have cited as a victory in COIN was Borneo, but I think it falls outside of an insurgency because that was mainly a foreign power fighting inside the allied country to overthrow/take control. Not really an insurgency because the locals weren't really involved in the fighting for the most part.

Would you consider the American civil war an insurgency or the revolutional war?

ETA: this is kind of my point again how can you define insurgency as everything?
 

pardus

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No terrorism is a tactic, used by criminals to cause fear.

There was no government when the civil war started, and the terrorism used by AQ-Iraq was a totally separate issue.

Would you consider the American civil war an insurgency or the revolutional war?

A tactic is a tool, same thing. Insurgents are criminals.

I don't understand your comment about AQ and them using terror :uhh:

There was someone in power the USA, that is the govt defacto maybe but govt all the same.

The Civil War was a Civil War.
 

SpitfireV

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When I think of an insurgency I think of a local group fighting a foreign occupying power. IE the French Resistance. Terrorism is a bit more difficult to pin down but I will give that a shot later in the day when I dig out some of my books.
 

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When I think of an insurgency I think of a local group fighting a foreign occupying power. IE the French Resistance. Terrorism is a bit more difficult to pin down but I will give that a shot later in the day when I dig out some of my books.

Very good point, Spitty! Comparing insurgency to terror is almost like comparing apples to grapes. But the tactics are often the same.
 

Diamondback 2/2

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Okay terrorism is defined in many ways by many different people. However the common understanding is that it is a tactic or strategy used by criminal (NGO’s) to inflict fear into the population. AQ is a terrorist organization that uses terrorism as a means of strategy to attack other religions or western populations or rage a "holy war".

The civil war in Iraq as far as I know was never linked to AQ-Iraq. To be more specific AQ-Iraq was in Iraq prier to the invasion and the “insurgent fighters” from neighboring countries were not all there for the civil war, just like they were not all there for the “holy war”. My point is that “terrorism” and “civil war” are being lumped together under insurgency and COIN was being used as a doctrine to fight “terrorism” and civil war. And both are completely different strategies, that require different countering strategies.

Iraq was lawless for about a year bro, the only government was pvt joe snuffy and his M4 or tank. The civil war was caused by the start of a political foundation by the CPA, where the Sunnis and Shiites Started to fight for power. AQ-Iraq was raging a holy war by use of a terrorism strategy.

If civil war is civil war then why was it called an insurgency? This is my point...
 

Diamondback 2/2

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When I think of an insurgency I think of a local group fighting a foreign occupying power. IE the French Resistance. Terrorism is a bit more difficult to pin down but I will give that a shot later in the day when I dig out some of my books.

However if you look at our COIN FM3-24, it says its anything and everything... This is my big problem with COIN, they can't even define what the hell we are countering.
 

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Marauder06

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J.A.B., good initial post and interesting points.

I think the defeat of the LTTE by Sri Lanka might be a good modern example of successful COIN.

The current war in Iraq may turn out to be another example, although the jury's still out.
 
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