RANGER AGAINST WAR: Appearances Can be Misleading <

Monday, July 07, 2014

Appearances Can be Misleading

--Objects in Mirrors

We are strong 
No one can tell us we're wrong 
Searching our hearts for so long 
Both of us knowing 
Love is a battlefield 
--Love is a Battlefield, 
Pat Benatar 

Riffing off of the Army's most recent field manual, "Tactics in Counterinsurgency" (2009), which lays out its "latest big shift in thinking", Business Insider recently ran graphics supposedly showing "America's Shifting Views on Modern Warfare" (and you thought American's don't care about much beyond Beyonce, Jay Z and Mrs. Kardashian.)

That counterinsurgency is considered as "warfare" is troubling enough. Can you "fight" for hearts and minds? Pat Benatar's ode to young love thinks so, but most adults know better.

The 10 June Insider piece states, "Al-Qaeda in Iraq proved so brutal that the Sunni traditional leaders who had supported or tolerated them effectively switched sides in the war, allowing the U.S. to deal a decisive blow to Iraq's Islamist insurgency."

Except -- the Sunnis did not switch sides. They simply played the United States for fools and let us and our Surge "appear" to be successful. They same Sunnis are now conquering Tikrit and Mosul, so the U.S.'s Big New Idea -- counterinsurgency -- did not prevail (just as it did not prevail in any of its past incarnations.) Success is gauged by the final outcome.

Another error is the statement, "In a democracy like the U.S., voters can decide whether a war effort is worth sustaining or not." Not so! When did American voters ever get to vote in any plebiscite to determine if we desired war or not? This applies to World War I, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq?

A graphic of the 1950 Malaysian Insurgency (1950)  lays out the roles of the fighters, but in fact an insurgency can exist sans actual fighters if the active support is radical and militant. Insurgents do not need to be militants, guerrillas or unconventional soldiers -- an insurgency only needs willing participants and a very small core of specialized bombers and shooters, which are readily found, recruited and replaced in any CI environment.

Active and passive support is the only requisite.

In a scenario like Iraq or Afghanistan, the paradigm represented by the graphic is not realistic, yet it appears that the best analogy to today our Army intellectuals can offer is a counterinsurgency diagram from a 1950's British effort vs. Communist insurgents.

The cool, new Counterinsurgency manual also uses diagrams that look suspiciously like the Terrorism Counteraction (TC/A) manual 3-19 of the 1980's U.S. Army. The only difference is, 3-19 gave a cross-pyramidal view, and Figure 2-3 is an aerial view:

Today's Army of One (the Next Generation) wouldn't be cribbing our work, would it? (It's OK -- just don't call it "new".)

Of course, beyond these diagrams, the U.S. fails to address the concept of "legitimacy" as affects any CI effort. No country can impose its will upon another and call this counterinsurgency. The insurgents are indigenous, and we are the foreigners supporting corrupt, illegitimate leaders who do not govern. Nothing we say can tip this equation in our favor.

The U.S. government should stay out of other countries internal affairs. That is the first and last chapter of Ranger's CI manual.

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Anonymous Brian said...

The standard response to your last paragraph about legitimacy of the Host Nation government is that a soldier doesn't choose which wars he gets to fight in, so why should his tactical manuals address this broader question.
And a corollary is that if the Host Nation government were legitimate, it would not be facing a militant domestic insurgency in the first place.
However, neither point gets you out of these wars, no more than it gets you into them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 11:37:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Brian 11:37,
Well i didn't write the Petraeus manual and it talks about legitimacy.
You can't win hearts and minds without legitimacy.
If we don't address this broader issue then we should just line people up and shoot them.
End of insurgency.
I for 1 do not accept the concept that insurgency is war fare. The fighting with ISIS goes beyond insurgency in that it has a conventional transition component.
In short, it conforms to the old "spectrum of conflict" template.
thanks fpr writing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 12:01:00 PM GMT-5  

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