Monday, February 28, 2011

COIN Passé?


Perhaps the cruelest term in all of girlworld - meaning out of fashion and out of date as smashing sooo 2000 and 8

As Great Satan licks her bloody nails clean in the killing fields of the AF end of AFPAK, those magically delicious blast walls in the Dad of Bahg are getting all dismantled. 
This is significant.

All the cool kids know the crown jewel of counter insurgency ops and expertise is the pop centric popular population protection. Buddying up to the innocents and fence sitters, winning friends influencing ppl, gleaming sweet meats of intell on where the bad guys are at and convincing them to hop on the cool train to fun and free choice or into a body bag. It's their choice, and Great Satan is only too happy to assist either way.

It's a slow, grinding - nasty - process. COIN ain't into time, and it worked - on a tactical level for sure - in the Land betwixt the two Rivers.

And for AFPAK, it's a diff critter and sparking a serious quiz as Zen's killer piece serves up (avec killer artwork too!)

Is COIN Dead?
"...Is it de facto dead as USG policy or is COIN theory formally evolved to officially embrace strong elements of CT, targeted assassinations, FID, “open-source counterinsurgency” and even bare-knuckled conventional warfare tactics?

COIN, as done up in Iraq is certainly not a one size fits all bustier  - and the debate may be more about style over substance.

As world famous Surge Expert and charter member of Great Satan's cadre of Combat Rock Stars Major Few recently shared about the sexyful upgradation of FM 3-24 - v2.0

 "...Courtney, FM 3-24 was born out of necessity.  GEN Petraeus brought together a team of experts to provide the US military some desperately needed help while Iraq was spiraling out of control.  The majority of the text covers the wisdom of David Galula, the godfather of population-centric counterinsurgency.   It was a good start.  Galula was smart, had a lot of experience, and could write, but, it was only a start." (GsGf Editorial note -Italics bis mein)

 There's more than one way to nail a hottie or do a Surge, as Captain Burke of WoI fame psychically predicted.

"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."

Thus, P4's influx of real time battlefield intell sources (prepped and plotted even in Mc4's tenure) hooked up with relatively few urban spots (comp'd with Iraq), terrorist and Taliban loving sanctuaries just over Durand line all result in multi killing fields - closer to old school clear and hold tactical designs - a bit more than being polite, professional and having a plan to kill everyone you meet.

And intuition will serve COINdinistas as they face off on 2 challenges for the foreseeable decade. Zen Pundit's Professor S's exclusive commentary lays it out as a top down approach from the highest levels of Great Satan's diplopolititary coterie:

"...First, the doctrine of pop-centric COIN as it was written in FM 3-24 is not going to be regarded as an affordable policy option for America in overseas military interventions unless they are broadly multilateral with other great powers putting up substantial numbers of troops. American politicians will demand cheaper, lighter, quieter versions of COIN closer to FID for any unilateral operations of this nature, if they permit new ones at all.

"...Secondly, the heavy reliance of two administrations on COIN as an operational paradigm points to a broken national security community that is unable to craft a durable and coherent grand strategy to sync and integrate military operations with diplomacy and other levers on national power. The overarching vision is absent and unsurprisingly we lack the ability to make realistic strategic choices or get a "whole of government" unified effort to achieve national goals. Until this essentially political problem is recognized and fixed, we fight with one arm tied behind our back.

Pic - "Scoring points for passion and resistance"


Anonymous said...

You ask whether COIN has become passe. I don't think it was ever "in" to begin with.

We've all read about the epic struggle of the COINdinistas (many of which housed at CNAS, where, in full disclosure, I'm part of a Next Generation Leaders program). But the COINdinistas didn't outright win the debate on Afghanistan. Oh sure, they got their pick for USD(P) placed. And for a brief moment a COINdinista as ISAF Commander. But that got them a seat at the table, not an outright victory. (I wish I could site a specific link for this), but I recall reading in Bob Woodward's recent book (or somewhere) about a scene where the President handed a hand-typed two-pager to GEN Petraeus et al and told them specifically--(Paraphrasing:) "This is my strategy for victory in Afghanistan. It is not a full COIN strategy, though it contains many elements of COIN." (End paraphrase)

So to sum it up:
1) COIN was never "in" so it can't be passe.
2) Obama's done his "surge," he's not going to further resource the military effort in Afghanistan so if his "Diet COIN" strategy didn't work, a full COIN strategy will never see the light of day.
3) Now Gates says the US won't be getting into any more land wars in Eurasia so the great COIN debate has ended. (I give it 15 to 25 more years till we are back in such slog. If history is any teacher).