Monday, June 21, 2010

Future COIN

"Taste It Bite It Chew it Pop It Lick It Smack It Move It Drop It Crack It Snap It."

Just lucky! Such stunning social commentary also serves as doable nomenclature for deep level COINspection at this point in time.

Perhaps the best scribe of all the prodigious premier PR COIN Advocate Generals is Army Aviation Captain Crispin Burke - a veteran at all weather any time any where choppering Great Satan’s uparmored infantry to "sometimes bring the love/sometimes bring the hate" throughout Iraq and theatre in the Last Days of Surge.

Captain Burke AKA "Starbuck" has surged choice mindcandy in Small Wars Journal,'s "Danger Room", FoPo Online, the Guardian, DOD's "Early Bird", Army's "Stand-to", while providing clear, timely communications and clarifications to New York Times.

Amidst administering "Wings Over Iraq", and ensuring Xth Mountain's Climb to Glory -- Captain Burke did consent to consort and conjure an especial exclusive vision of Future COIN ala AFPAK:

"Always in motion, the future is.

"Counterinsurgency doctrine is not without its flaws, with two large ones becoming increasingly more obvious.

"First, counterinsurgency is, by its very nature, a time-consuming, manpower-intensive endeavor. Certainly, I can sympathize with the Vietnam and post-Vietnam generation in their aversion to avoid counterinsurgency altogether.

"However--and this is where I have a key disagreement with Col. Gian Gentile--we don't get to pick and choose our battles. Col. Gentile tends to echo the Powell Doctrine, in claiming that a well-crafted strategy will preclude fighting in counterinsurgency-type conflicts, or conflicts for which there is seemingly no end in sight.

"Such strategic brilliance is rare, especially in a democracy, where the will of millions rules foreign policy.

"Bottom line: keep FM 3-24--updated as necessary--on the bookshelves. While the book is not without its flaws, it does have a number of good lessons applicable from everything from counterinsurgency, to hybrid-style wars, to disaster relief.

"Secondly, COIN is an operational framework, not a strategic one. Furthermore, FM 3-24 was written in a specific context, when America was good at offensive operations, but poor at human intelligence gathering and population security.

"Follow FM 3-24 to the letter, but politics and strategy will make or break the campaign, guaranteed. Look at the defeat of the extremely professional Rhodesian Light Infantry.

"It's time we ask difficult questions about the ISI's support for the Taliban, Hamid Karzai's rampant corruption (and potential support for the Taliban), and reconciliation with the Taliban.

"Not to mention, the big question: what role does al-Qaeda--the real enemy--play in all of this?

"The next twelve months in Afghanistan will be difficult, and I think it might be the last major campaign in this long series of wars. I'm not too optimistic. I foresee gradual gains in security, though I doubt they will happen as quickly as Gen. McChrystal wants them to happen. Again, the political realm will make or break Afghanistan. Pakistan has a very real interest in destabilizing and weakening Afghanistan.

"For now, Marjah is the schwerpunkt. Understandably, Gen. McChrystal understands that time is running short in Afghanistan, with most of NATO planning to leave sometime next year.

"Nevertheless, the expectation that Marjah could be turned into a functioning civil society in just 90 day was grossly unrealistic. We need to learn as much as we can from this failed "government in a box" strategy in order to come up with a coherent plan for Kandahar

"Special Forces and airstrikes have already started to pick off Taliban leaders in Kandahar. Gen. McChrystal believes--rightly so--that this upcoming offensive is less of a "kinetic" battle than a process of installing good governance from the bottom up. Although I think that this will likely wait until after the summertime fighting, so as to give it the best chance of succeeding.

"Ultimately, whether a government in Kandahar will successfully link with a government in Kabul is the real question.

Pic "Run Devil Devil Run Run" with Megan Fox (Redux Two)


J. said...

To Starbuck:
I don't think that COL Gentile's COINtra commentaries are aligned with a fixation on Powell doctrine. All Powell said was, if you're going to be serious about warfare, don't skimp (as the US govt did for the first 8 years in Afghanistan). All Gentile is saying is that COIN is not a strategy (with which you agree).

As for "pick and choose your battles," disagree. We're in a unique position where we do in fact get to "pick and choose your battle," thus the debate between a CT/COIN mix, CT only, COIN-pop centric, conventional search and destroy, etc etc. No one is forcing us to fight any particular battle in Afghanistan.

As you say, it was insane to consider Marjah a 90-day operation, given the failures of the Afghan security forces.
In that light, doesn't it follow that if Marjah is in fact the schwerpunct, isn't it premature to take on Kandahar prior to completing Marjah? And since the govt in Kabul has yet to "connect" with the govt in Marjah, are we not in the danger of repeating the same mistake in Kandahar?

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