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Guerilla Army Counter

This is a discussion on Guerilla Army Counter within the Military Strategy and Tactics forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Riksavage While I think it's important not to create new enemies, I have a feeling that the "Hearts and Minds" ...


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Old May 12th, 2009   #31
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Riksavage

While I think it's important not to create new enemies, I have a feeling that the "Hearts and Minds" approch isn't delivering the expected results. It's important that one try to make oneself as least loathed as possible, but victory is not served by having the general surport of the population, the general surport of the population is the very war objective of the insurgency, and they have means to claim it.

I like to compare to organised crime, like the mafia many years ago in certain S. Italian cities. Take a city in which the forces of order doesn't work, the police is absent or corrupt, the judges are corrupt etc in short, everything has been corrupt by a mafia who even has the audacity to simply collect tax from ordinarry people.
We would expect the ordinarry people to loath this mafia, and they probably do. But when we analyse active as well as passive surport of that mafia, we would see a frightening picture of broad surport from all layers of the socity. The surport is usually passive, that'll be f.ex. that people chooses not cooperate with the police, but you also see active cooperation (like using the mafia for personal revenge/justice or as a buisness partner).
The principle agent d'action of the mafia is fear or terror together with corruption (the lure of money). The mafia, through a number of spectacular terroristic events (like blowing up the autostrada together with a noosy judge) or the ritual slaughter of a "snitch", spreads fear and terror. At the same time the mafia infiltrates, much like HIV, the forces of order. They f.ex. corrupt police and judges. The end result is a collapse of the forces of order, and that good lawfull citizens have little alternative than to surport, perhaps only passively, that mafia that has infltrated and destroyed their local communities.
This kind of a clandestine organisation has proven to be quite ressilient and are to this day still a threat against a modern state with significant ressources at it's disposal like the itallien one.

The millitant clandestine organisation works in much the same way, it's principal agent d'action are terror/fear and some ideological lure (national, religious or political ideological). It does not corrupt the forces of order in stead it directly attacks them (it begins with small stuff like shooting the local police captain, attacking the school etc).

The failiure of the hearts and minds approch, is that it does not take into account that the civilians are forced to be tactical. In the day the ISAF soldiers come and play football, in the night the Talliban comes. The ISAF soldiers are blind, doesn't speak the lanquage, don't know the locals, the talliban see all things. Regardless of trust, likeability, high ideals etc. it would be highly stupid to talk real to the ISAF soldier, only to be treated like a snitch in the night by the talliban, who btw do not play football.
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Old May 12th, 2009   #32
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Riksavage

While I think it's important not to create new enemies, I have a feeling that the "Hearts and Minds" approch isn't delivering the expected results. It's important that one try to make oneself as least loathed as possible, but victory is not served by having the general surport of the population, the general surport of the population is the very war objective of the insurgency, and they have means to claim it.

I like to compare to organised crime, like the mafia many years ago in certain S. Italian cities. Take a city in which the forces of order doesn't work, the police is absent or corrupt, the judges are corrupt etc in short, everything has been corrupt by a mafia who even has the audacity to simply collect tax from ordinarry people.
We would expect the ordinarry people to loath this mafia, and they probably do. But when we analyse active as well as passive surport of that mafia, we would see a frightening picture of broad surport from all layers of the socity. The surport is usually passive, that'll be f.ex. that people chooses not cooperate with the police, but you also see active cooperation (like using the mafia for personal revenge/justice or as a buisness partner).
The principle agent d'action of the mafia is fear or terror together with corruption (the lure of money). The mafia, through a number of spectacular terroristic events (like blowing up the autostrada together with a noosy judge) or the ritual slaughter of a "snitch", spreads fear and terror. At the same time the mafia infiltrates, much like HIV, the forces of order. They f.ex. corrupt police and judges. The end result is a collapse of the forces of order, and that good lawfull citizens have little alternative than to surport, perhaps only passively, that mafia that has infltrated and destroyed their local communities.
This kind of a clandestine organisation has proven to be quite ressilient and are to this day still a threat against a modern state with significant ressources at it's disposal like the itallien one.

The millitant clandestine organisation works in much the same way, it's principal agent d'action are terror/fear and some ideological lure (national, religious or political ideological). It does not corrupt the forces of order in stead it directly attacks them (it begins with small stuff like shooting the local police captain, attacking the school etc).

The failiure of the hearts and minds approch, is that it does not take into account that the civilians are forced to be tactical. In the day the ISAF soldiers come and play football, in the night the Talliban comes. The ISAF soldiers are blind, doesn't speak the lanquage, don't know the locals, the talliban see all things. Regardless of trust, likeability, high ideals etc. it would be highly stupid to talk real to the ISAF soldier, only to be treated like a snitch in the night by the talliban, who btw do not play football.
Every Counter Insurgency operation requires close scrutiny at all levels, political, civil and military, there is never a text book answer.

Afghanistan for one is a totally unique environment, there's no upper working / middle class left to influence, the population remains uneducated and largely unaware of what constitutes a better life. God and the Koran dominate every day life and influences all decision making at the micro level. One of my favourite quotes by a US General was: 'we are going to have to bomb Afghanistan forward to the Stone Age, not back,' this just about sums the place up.

In today's world of political correctness, human rights and 24-7 media coverage we can no longer go round hanging 20 terrorist sympathisers for every ISAF soldier killed. Therefore in my view we have two choices, either we raise the level of the average Afghan's life above mere subsistence and create a base level security environment allowing the average civi to go about their daily routine without fear of being shot, beheaded, beaten or lynched. Make them realise there's a better alternative out there and isolate them from intimidation by either Taliban or Warlord elements. If successful this will still constitute a heart and minds operation at the very basic level. Alternatively we can deprive the country of all motorised transport, mobile phones, land-lines, computers, jam sat phone comms and then seal the borders. Literally prevent any would-be terrorists communicating with the outside world (other than using runners), making the country unworkable as a terrorist coordination centre - basically create and encourage a Medieval society.

The coalition could spend the next twenty years killing insurgents in droves, unfortunately there will always be someone ready to pick up the gun and carry on fighting the cause. We need to erode the enemies support, demonstrate to the general populous that there is a tiny spark of light at the end of that very long and dark tunnel, unless this is done we might as well pack-up and sod off. To do this we must not just take ground, but hold it, rebuild it and offer a semblance of normality. The only way this can be achieved is by putting more boots on the ground, something, which we will hopefully see in the next few months following the US surge.
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Old May 12th, 2009   #33
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Though what you can try to do, is to make a genuine policing effort to sieve the insurgent surport structure from the population, And while ISAF soldiers can't hang talliban operatives on the city square, I see no reason why the ANA or other suitable afghan authority can't do that.- after what proper trial is necessary under emergency laws.
After all the Afghan state is the legal entity.

I see no reason why we shouldn't try to defend the population 24/7, possibly displace the population to areas in which we can defend them.
We have to deny the enemy access to the population.

If the taliban has safe havens in Pakistan, I see no reason why we shouldn't find our friends in those areas to conduct war to our advantage.
There are surely some disgruntled tribes that fits our purpose.

Ofcourse the state has to take care of it's defenseless citizens in the troubled periode of total war, and since the afgh. state is pretty useless, it's the intervention forces that has to do that also, that'll be social and reconstruction aid in huge quantities.

The people will surport those that are most likely to quickly bring the one basic thing that any state has to deliver: Law&Order.
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Old May 12th, 2009   #34
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To elaborate;

The rural village;

In the first phaze which is about disrupting the enemy operations in the upland of the towns.

When a unit enters a village it brings with it special intelligence forces.
When security has been establish, the intelligence forces sets up shops in which the locals can be interrogated confidentially.

All adoults are then privately and confidentionally interrogated by specialists. They have to answer simple questions; f.ex. "whether they know of some foreigners in the village", "who collects funds", "who advocate the case of the enemy" " Which houses are "unused"" etc.
It's important that the interrogations at this level are absolutely polite and abides to local customs (perhaps women can't be interrogated in afghanistan, because they can't be alone - there is no point in interrogation if it's not absolutely private and confident).
Most if not all adoults will probably not give any intel, but maybe someone will, IF a suspect person has been pointed out, he is imidiately sized and throughly interrogated as a suspect. This interrogation will initially still be polite since we don't know what's going on. If the interrogators are satisfied that they got one of the enemy, he can be either be freed and registrated or if it seems he knows something interesting, subjected to harsher interrogation methods depending on his level of cooperation. The process can either end in the suspect being taken as a POW, at which point he will be treated accordingly to international rules, or perhaps used as a future source of intel.

It is important that the interrogation aims at simple and quick Q&A including names and adresses that can quickly be put to use, Old intel is worthless and the people soldiers can catch don't know much anyway (they are at the leaf level).

At the same time all locals are issued with identification cards, and they are registrated in a central online database with their biometric and social data.

When the soldiers return in a month or so, this process can be repeated, Though this time they have an edge: They know who is supposed to be there (the database), People there, but not supposed to be there, are suspect and are interrogated as such. People supposed to be there but are not there, are noted - perhaps wanted.
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Old May 13th, 2009   #35
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Interesting post. I would advise you also to read about the Rhodesian Bush war. A very complex topic. Anyway there were two large communist guerilla movements, one sponsored by the Sovietunion, the other by the China. Both used different approaches and so did the COIN forces.
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Old May 14th, 2009   #36
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I guess that one of Ian Smith's problems (besides being an @sshole of the old school type) were that his political power base were to small. Having a small minority trying to controle and supress a sea of humans, is something that requires instruments of power of a different calliber than what the state of Rhodesia could muster in isolation.

Which leads us to our afghan problem. We need to have a political solution that's viable, that can gather surport. Something that on a long term seems attractable to the populations in question. If that, f.ex. in Helmand, is a local sharia goverment then, that's something the Afghan people can decide. Our mission is to make sure that it's the people who decide, and not those with most guns.

Though before we can make long term arragements, we need to establish Order, and that can only be, by neutralising those that fights against order. And I think - rather I am sure - that that fight is not won, far from, by shooting at armed guerillas - how ever good you are at it. We also need to do that, but much more important is it to meticulously destroy the, unarmed, organisation that obviously more or less willingly surport the armed organisation and is it's prerequiste.
The enemy are those that disagree (with us), Enemy combattans are those that in action or public speaking disagree (with us).
Those that are activly disagreeing (fighting, placing bombs, posting posters, fund raising, sheltering, intimidating etc), needs to be caught and imprissoned or killed.
People that speaks out against us, f.ex. in the weekly friday prayer, needs to be silenced or/and replaced.

We need to be able to shield the population from the fear of the insurgents, and we can only do that by "precence" and "policing" (with the object of identifying the surport structure) so that we deny access to the population.

This is easier done in the cities, but it's the "intermediate zone" (the zone between the city and the uninhabbitted areas) that we need to contol. We need to defend and control the villages and the food and provisions they produce.

This is, as Trinquier suggest, done by turning villages into easy defendable and controlable hamlets surported by highly mobile "on call" forces.
Technology has helped us here, since the ISAF forces are/can be highly mobile, leaving it to the much less cabable ANA forces to do the local static defense (that's btw dangerous, but it's their country and it's fitting they take the brunt of the pain). If we deny the insurgents access to the population, we deny them mobility (since the insurgents uses the population as food and provision source, deprived of that, their logistics becomes impossible) .
This might mean that we need to do some population concentration, in the selected hamlets, it's best if it's voluntarely, but even if it's not and if the timescale is not too long, it should be feasable - the hamlets would also be a good point to distribute aid without having to see half of it end up with the insurgents.

We need a massive quick response to force quick millitary victory, then we can start with political reconstruction and permanent solutions.

I am 100% against the hearts and minds approch (which doesn't work since it's not about hearts and the mind is more swayed by fear than joy), in the same breath I am 100% against the "two legs" approch (trying to provide security while rebuilding/reconstruction) since that requires the one commodity we don't have, but the enemy has in aboundance: Time.

Last edited by Palnatoke; May 14th, 2009 at 03:02 PM.
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Old May 16th, 2009   #37
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I thought about it and think that this "French" approach or a least important elements of it need very specific circumstances to work out. It is feasable for a strategic defense in politically very important regions where the largest part of the population is friendly and a long-term commitment is perceived by them. Basically we need strong political support at home and one which also tolerates sometimes harsh methods. Algeria was such an strategic area and the political circumstances allowed much more then today.


The big problem of ISAF is that they are there to help. This goal limits their options and methods across the whole spectrum greatly. It is hard to explain the public and the political actors when a helping hand causes damage. It places ISAF in many negotations at a weak position, because it is easy to questions their actions while pointing to their friendly goal. It forces them to apologize in public and creates the perception in an country like Afghanistan that they are wrong and weak. Their noble goals of going home after the job is finished and the history of the country also lessens their perceived long-term commitment to Afghanistan.

Not that this positions is also a huge advantage in many regards, but harsh methods like relocating villages are in the perception of most actors unacceptable.


So I think that Trinquer can offer us a lot, but we must always carefully study and analyse the strategic situation and the impact of our actions. Methods which work brilliantly under a specifc set of conditions are sometimes counterproductive for others...
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Old May 21st, 2009   #38
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I think you are right on many accounts, though the problem is that we have been lured into thinking that millitary intervention is something like "armed aid". Something like; "we are the good guys that hands out food and open schools, now and then there are some very evil terrorists, which our soldiers then valiently shoot at"

In reality ISAF is engaged in a real, brutal war, in which good and bad is not much more than the "shine on your noose". ISAF fights for a central goverment, and it is not given that all people surport it (actually, clearly not). "The home audience" should understand this basic truth, and understand, that if it commits troops to battle, then the war must be fought on the premisses of the war, not some romantic idea. At the sametime we cannot afford ourself to be cruel, though we have to do that which is necessary to win - else we shouldn't have comed.

I think that Trinquier shows us some basic facts; the urgency, the objective of destroying the enemy in depth and that the population is the war aim: the thing to be conqurored. And, which I think is extreamly significant, that the population surports those who are most likely to provide some sort of Order; be that the goverment or the insurgency.
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Old May 22nd, 2009   #39
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I think you are right on many accounts, though the problem is that we have been lured into thinking that millitary intervention is something like "armed aid". Something like; "we are the good guys that hands out food and open schools, now and then there are some very evil terrorists, which our soldiers then valiently shoot at"
I think I can understand your thoughts, and I can see at what you are pointing. While it is no comfort it helps to try to analyze the situation with Clausewitz in mind. Politik in the West has framed the perception of the conflict in Afghanistan and the western actors have to stick to stringent guidelines to conform to it. They have also achieve their goals with quite limited ressources. That this overall "soft approach" works partly also against the best interests of most Afghani is tragic. More so as it forces partly also more tactical "hard" approaches (with civilian casualities) who have to be won with greatly superior firepower...
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Old May 22nd, 2009   #40
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It is tragic.

I quess our best hope is that the pakistani can crush talliban and friends on their side of the border. Else we are playing a loosing game.
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