Rethinking COIN. We need something new.

7

7point62

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I used to think successful COIN warfare was possible, provided it was done right. But now, after putting a lot of thought into it, I'm not so sure.

I'm guessing--I don't have any real numbers--that you're kind of fucked from the get-go. I'm figuring maybe a 20-25% chance of a successful outcome provided it's done right, and--here's the rub--provided you have 15-20 years to dedicate to the prosecution of the war.

For us Westerners, our people just don't have the patience or the interest to wage a long-term COIN war. They didn't 40 years ago and they sure as shit don't now.

Obviously, some of the elements of COIN doctrine make sense. Like don't piss off the locals. If they don't like you they're going to tell your enemy where your ambush site is. They're not going to be so forthcoming about the location of that IED. If they do come to like you, you stand to gain some valuable intel from them. But you are always going to be the Outlander. Always.

And let's face it. We know and they know that we are not going to be there forever. In fact, in today's world, 8-9 years is about the maximum commitment we are going to see, if that. And they are not going to embrace Americanism or Westernism. It's not going to happen.

I think COIN doctrine needs a major overhaul. Take what makes sense and discard the rest.

Any thoughts?
 

AssadUSMC

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Since we know this country will NOT do true COIN, we need to do a full-scale deconstruction of the enemy. Of course this will not happen either, for in the words of Gen. Petraeus, "We will not carpet bomb."

Either we are in a war or we're not. I don't recall someone issuing us rules. Oh yeah, that's right, the court of (foreign) public opinion decided for us... :p
 

AWP

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I'm guessing--I don't have any real numbers--that you're kind of fucked from the get-go. I'm figuring maybe a 20-25% chance of a successful outcome provided it's done right, and--here's the rub--provided you have 15-20 years to dedicate to the prosecution of the war.

RAND did a study on this, some 160+ pages worth. I'll try to find a link, but of the ~100 insurgencies since the end of WWII a successful COIN campaign took an average of 14 years.
 

DA SWO

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I can think of two that worked. Brits in Malaysia, and US in El Salvador. Takes time and money, we set ourselves up for defeat by moving the effort from A-stan to Iraq too quick.
 
J

JJ sloan

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Word.
COIN works just fine. All we need are commanders who understand the operation... not just vomitting information that they read in the recently published manual.
COIN is not a buzz word, a fad or something that should be used for promotion opportunities. Leave this operation to the guys who have been doing it for decades rather than try to put joe snuffy in the position to do the job, or train an entirely new SOF contingent for this purpose. Absurd.
Backpacks and smiles are not doctrinal components of COIN.
 
A

arizonaguide

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Three questions to ponder:
1.) what is the capability and "local credibility" of friendly indiginous forces in A-stan?
Pretty much limited to small unit tactics under ONE decision maker, correct? No real "NCO's" in their organization right? Just one "leader" and a bunch of "followers" that need constant decision making "guidance" from that senior leader. No "middle management", I understand. Is that correct? How many actually can READ a map, develop a mission, react and improvise on the fly, etc?

2.) what is the (local) credibility of the Government/infrastructure to govern?
To my understanding the President's brother is who again? I also understand that they are "waiting to see if we have the stomach to stay"...and until then, don't want to piss off the Taliban...indicating that they know the current GOVT Structure is NOT enough to protect them if we leave. (THIS seems like the MAIN issue to tackle).

3.) Do we really expect to turn Cousin against cousin...tribe against tribe?
If so, how do we do this? Live amongst them and become a member of their tribe?
Know all of them as well as their Mailman does? (shit, like they have a mailman!?).
How do we know who's enemy and not, except by HUMINT that is sketchy and used to settle tribal and family disputes...and not 100% to stop OUR chosen "enemy". Are we living (or ready to live) amongst them 100% for the "duration"? To protect them like "family"?
 
7

7point62

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Current COIN doctrine works - sort of.

When it's left to units that are manned, trained and equipped for it, and when it is applied before a low intensity conflict blossoms into open warfare, great gains can be made.

Once war has been declared and conventional units roll in, counter-insurgency efforts will only have minor effect due to the large physical, logistical and psychological footprint those units impose upon the local populace, especially during the stabilization phase of a conventional war.

The maxim of "build a thousand bridges, but fuck one sheep..." is especially true in COIN, which is why it should be left to the folks that - by mandate - are trained for it. 18 year old PFC's, God bless 'em, shouldn't be within a hundred miles of a concerted COIN effort.

In short, once the tanks roll in, someone will always be pissed off and want us gone.


Terrific post.

But we seem to have the historical inability to limit our adventures to just COIN and leave the professionals alone. The tanks always roll in...the 18-year old PFC's, God Bless them ;), are not only allowed within a hundred miles of the effort, but get a 3-week work-up in COIN and then go out and hide a frag in some old lady's Burkha for laughs.

What I'm saying is, it's almost unrealistic for us to contemplate the successful prosecution and completion of any COIN effort because COIN always seems to get relegated to side show status (except for a few exceptions as SOWT points out) and we and our allies lack the patience.

And then there's the national character of the people who's hearts and minds you are trying to win. They have to be receptive enough, there has to be enough motivation to make them want to side with foreigners against their own countrymen or people who share their culture. People in Afghan cities remember the repression of the Taliban. That's motivation. But the cities are just dots on the map.
 
7

7point62

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Since we know this country will NOT do true COIN, we need to do a full-scale deconstruction of the enemy. Of course this will not happen either, for in the words of Gen. Petraeus, "We will not carpet bomb."

Either we are in a war or we're not. I don't recall someone issuing us rules. Oh yeah, that's right, the court of (foreign) public opinion decided for us... :p



Y'know, I'm thinking of a new doctrine along those same lines: KOE/GTFO= Kill Our Enemies and Get the Fuck Out.

That was the original mission in A-Stan. Kill Osama and as many of his AQ motherfuckers as we could, kill anybody who stood in our way and get the fuck out. Now it seems we're trying to re-make the country into something it's never going to be.

I think the only COIN effort our government could ever seriously prosecute would be against an insurgency in our own country...
 

Manolito

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If you are interested Gen. Tommy Franks said the same thing in his book. I will command troops and win the war. I will retire before we occupy the country. We should leave at the end of the war.
 

archade

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My € .02
 

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AssadUSMC

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Y'know, I'm thinking of a new doctrine along those same lines: KOE/GTFO= Kill Our Enemies and Get the Fuck Out.

That was the original mission in A-Stan. Kill Osama and as many of his AQ motherfuckers as we could, kill anybody who stood in our way and get the fuck out. Now it seems we're trying to re-make the country into something it's never going to be.

I think the only COIN effort our government could ever seriously prosecute would be against an insurgency in our own country...

THIS is the key. Nation-building is a fine endeavor, but one best left to those to whom the country belongs... We are polishing the turd that is Afghanistan to a fine sheen, but alas, it's still a turd.
 

Diamondback 2/2

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Okay I waited until I was sober to post here }:-) that way I can be clear in my statements.

I don’t think there should be a COIN book on the conventional side, it serves no purpose. I feel that it is the SF/ CA/ PSYOP role and their expertise. They my have read/ wrote and use parts of the book, but they have a far better understanding of what needs to take place in a COIN operation, then what is actually being said in the book it self.

I can give a support unit a FM 7-8 and even give them some follow on training from some HSLD Infantry soldiers, however that unit and that units command will never perform to an infantry units ability or knowledge level. They will not fully understand and they will fail to apply the proper tactics to the conceived threat. It takes a 18+ year 1SG to keep a Company commander inline and focused on what’s right, it takes a 12+ year PSG to keep a Platoon leader inline and focused. So on and so on, experience and understanding goes farther when apply a tactic, b/c a tactic is ineffective when applied the wrong way.

I don’t think that COIN is effective and fail to see where it has been a true success. However I do believe that in order for it to be a success it most be conducted by the right people, with the right knowledge and experience in COIN.

From this Infantryman’s view point and knowledge/ experience the only way to defeat insurgency is to kill every last insurgent and every person who help those insurgents. If that means leaving a population in shambles, so be it. I will come back 20 years later and do it again (job security }:-) ).
 
A

arizonaguide

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Yup, I still like 7point's KOE/GTFO doctrine.

I look forward to the input into the new FM-3-24-1, Kill Our Enemies and Get the Fuck Out field manual! :) I'm guessing it could be covered in about 19 pages.
Save the gov't a bunch of money (hell, just on Field Manual paper alone). ;)
 
J

JJ sloan

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Alot is definately lost in OPSEC.
COIN will work in this theatre, there is no doubt. It will require a shift in thinking which I believe is underway. Pakistan is definately a large part of the success of COIN in Afghanistan; I believe that the current leadership knows this and is making the neccessary corrections.
To "kill our enemy and get the fuck out" has never been a part of our doctrine and seems a bit absurd. The area must be stabilized and if that means we stay there for an undetermined amount of time (eg. Germany, Japan, Korea, Panama, the Philippines) then so be it.
I think in order for this tactic to work at the operational level, NATO needs to be relieved and special operations needs to take control at the tactical level. This does not mean remove conventional forces, it means to establish (revive) tactical areas of responsibility where SF companies are the "battlespace owners". USCENTCOM remains the operational commander, just as it was in the beginning.
There is nothing wrong with COIN as a tactic, but it has to be understood by all who are charged with executing the task. And those who are charged with the task must be left to accomplish it with some autonomy. There is no one size fits all solution for COIN, each commander must decide what will work in his AOR. That is where we are going so wrong.
:2c:
 

Diamondback 2/2

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I agree with most of what you wrote accept this:

To "kill our enemy and get the fuck out" has never been a part of our doctrine and seems a bit absurd.

It’s untested by the US Military (accept for a few operations), however very well proven to work by the IDF. I think it’s absurd to think that the entire Middle Eastern region is going to be stabilized and eliminate the threat of future attacks on the United States and Allies. Such as Iran, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan. We cannot afford to spend the money and time to rebuild (the retarded terrorist from those areas) views of the world and their religious devotion. However we can kill them disrupt them enough to render them ineffective and make them a low level threat.

And this:

This does not mean remove conventional forces, it means to establish (revive) tactical areas of responsibility where SF companies are the "battlespace owners".

As long as a conventional force and leadership are maintained that does not share the views of SOF in the theater of operations, you will continue to have stupid ineffective policies and continued mishaps. SF/ CA/ PSYOP is trained to view the conflict different and act according to your training. Conventional and DA type units are trained to view warfare in a different way and that does not fall in lines with the SF/ CA/ PSYOP views. As necessary as you and your training are, is the same way my training and I am necessary. I agree that Afghanistan is a SOF war, but disagree with keeping conventional forces (other then support and a BCT size QRF) on ground or with a leadership influance.
 
J

JJ sloan

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I agree with most of what you wrote accept this:



It’s untested by the US Military (accept for a few operations), however very well proven to work by the IDF. I think it’s absurd to think that the entire Middle Eastern region is going to be stabilized and eliminate the threat of future attacks on the United States and Allies. Such as Iran, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan. We cannot afford to spend the money and time to rebuild (the retarded terrorist from those areas) views of the world and their religious devotion. However we can kill them disrupt them enough to render them ineffective and make them a low level threat.

Noted. I would submit to you that the ideology ("the retarded terrorist views") of our enemy is their center of gravity. This center of gravity aids extremists in their ability to leverage the populace for recruitment. At the same time, this center of gravity is their critical vulnerability. If we can stop the recruitment we can snuff out the insurgency. Therefore, we have to strike at the ideology by using unconventional means. One of the unconventional means is simply proving to the people that we will not leave until their government is able to provide security and a better way of life. That should only take another twenty years or so, but it can be done. Conversly, I don't believe it will be done with democracy... I believe that the Afghans will have to create a viable Islamic Republic. But to kill and retreat is not going to make this possible, it will only enflame the base from which to recruit. Therefor, this tactic of "KOE/GTFO" will never achieve the endstate of mitigating the threat, or as you said "make them a low level threat."

And this:



As long as a conventional force and leadership are maintained that does not share the views of SOF in the theater of operations, you will continue to have stupid ineffective policies and continued mishaps. SF/ CA/ PSYOP is trained to view the conflict different and act according to your training. Conventional and DA type units are trained to view warfare in a different way and that does not fall in lines with the SF/ CA/ PSYOP views. As necessary as you and your training are, is the same way my training and I am necessary. I agree that Afghanistan is a SOF war, but disagree with keeping conventional forces (other then support and a BCT size QRF) on ground or with a leadership influance.

We need conventional forces for security and to conduct large scale operations. We do not need conventional commanders to have a say in the battlespace, or at the tactical level. I think we agree more than not on this issue.
 

Diamondback 2/2

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Noted. I would submit to you that the ideology ("the retarded terrorist views") of our enemy is their center of gravity. This center of gravity aids extremists in their ability to leverage the populace for recruitment. At the same time, this center of gravity is their critical vulnerability. If we can stop the recruitment we can snuff out the insurgency. Therefore, we have to strike at the ideology by using unconventional means. One of the unconventional means is simply proving to the people that we will not leave until their government is able to provide security and a better way of life. That should only take another twenty years or so, but it can be done. Conversly, I don't believe it will be done with democracy... I believe that the Afghans will have to create a viable Islamic Republic. But to kill and retreat is not going to make this possible, it will only enflame the base from which to recruit. Therefor, this tactic of "KOE/GTFO" will never achieve the endstate of mitigating the threat, or as you said "make them a low level threat."


And this:





We need conventional forces for security and to conduct large scale operations. We do not need conventional commanders to have a say in the battlespace, or at the tactical level. I think we agree more than not on this issue.

Okay so it’s a moot point, as I said in my 1st post there is a different view’s on fighting a conflict and you are trained one way to deal with a conflict. I am trained a different way to deal with it. I agree that Afghanistan is your war, but if am getting involved it needs to be for KOE/GTFO reason.

As for keep me there to pull security and be used hard and put up wet, that is truly absurd! :uhh: What about using the Afghans? I thought that was your guys other specialty FID? I think that’s what gets the American’s in a bind when supporting UW operations. They don’t want young 18 year olds dieing for the Afghan’s security. Let the Afghans die for their security and our kids will die for ours…
 
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