Counterinsurgency guidance

Reading at the Small Wars Council that speaks for itself, from Lieutenant General Ray Odierno. Note numbers 8, 9 and 10 and consider how we engage foreign audiences and the difference between tactics, strategy and motivations (and here, and a quote from Kathleen Meilahn here). 

Update: the SWJ Blog now has posted the original (in Arabic and English).

The war in Iraq has reached a critical stage. During 2007, Coalition and Iraqi forces must work together to create security improvements and, in doing so, provide Iraqi leaders with the time and space to tackle the tough political issues that must be resolved in order to achieve national reconciliation and build a secure and stable Iraq.

To meet this challenge, we have revised our approach in order to focus on securing the Iraqi people. Initially, our main effort will be securing Baghdad; it will later expand to other areas. To effectively secure the Iraqi people – in Baghdad and throughout the rest of Iraq – we must coordinate our actions closely with each other and with our Iraqi leaders. For this reason, I am issuing specific counterinsurgency guidance for all forces operating in Iraq. The following ten points, in priority order, lay out the key requirements.

As you read, think through, talk about, and ultimately operationalize these points, always remember that in this environment, “business as usual” will not be good enough. Complacency will kill us; we must visibly improve security. A sense of urgency and good situational awareness will also be critical. Troopers on the spot, and their immediate instinctive reactions, will win or lose the perception battle at the local level. Everything we do supports and enables this battle of perceptions, locally here in Iraq and also in the global audience.

1. Secure the people where they sleep. Population security is our primary mission. And achieving population security promises to be an extremely long-term endeavor – a marathon, not a sprint – so focusing on this mission now is essential. Most extra-judicial killings occur at night and in people’s homes, while most spectacular terrorist attacks occur during the day, where people shop, work and play – anywhere they gather publicly. These key areas must be secured. Once secured, an area cannot be abandoned; it must be permanently controlled and protected, 24 hours a day, or else the enemy will re-infiltrate and kill or intimidate those who have supported us. This protection must be kept up until the area can be effectively garrisoned and controlled by Iraqi police (ideally from the area being secured) and other security services. We can’t be everywhere – therefore you must assess your AOR, identify priority areas, work to secure them first, and then expand into other areas.
2. Give the people justice and honor. We think in terms of democracy and human rights. Iraqis think in terms of justice and honor. Whenever possible, help Iraqis to retain or regain their honor. Treat Iraqis with genuine, not patronizing, dignity and respect; that will win friends and discredit enemies. You must act quickly and publicly to deal with complaints and abuses. Never allow an injustice to stand unaddressed; never walk away from a local Iraqi who believes he or she has been unjustly treated. Second only to security, bringing justice to the people and restoring their honor is the key task.
3. Integrate civilian/military efforts — this is an inter-agency, combined arms fight. Embedded PRTs now operate directly alongside military units, adding new capabilities, skills, and funds to our counterinsurgency effort. PRTs bring political and economic expertise to the brigade and regimental combat teams with whom they serve, operate under force protection rules that allow them to accompany our military forces on operations, and conduct extended engagement with local communities. In order to exploit military and civilian capabilities to their fullest potential, we must fully integrate our civilian partners into all aspects of our operations – from inception through execution. Close working relationships, mutual respect, and personal interaction between BCT/RCT commanders and PRT Team Leaders are critical to achieving “interagency combined arms”.
4. Get out and walk — move mounted, work dismounted. Vehicles like the up-armored HMMWV insulate us from the Iraqi people we are securing, limit our situational awareness, and drastically reduce the number of Soldiers able to dismount. Furthermore, they make us predictable as they often force us to move slowly on set routes. Meanwhile, an underbelly attack by an IED or an EFP may still damage the vehicle heavily – so we gain little in safety, but sacrifice much in effectiveness. HMMWVs are necessary for traveling to a patrol area or for overwatch, heavy equipment transportation, and communications. But they are not squad cars. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot to gain and maintain contact with the population and the enemy.
5. We are in a fight for intelligence – all the time. Intelligence is not a “product” given to commanders by higher headquarters, but rather something we gather ourselves, through our own operations. Tactical reporting, from civilian and military agencies, is essential: there are thousands of eyes out in your area – all must act as scouts, know what to look for, and be trained and ready to report it. Also, units should deploy analytical capacity as far forward as possible, so that the analyst is close – in time and space – to the commander he supports. Our presence, living alongside the people, will turn on a “fire-hose” of unsolicited tips about the enemy. Units must be prepared to receive this flood of information. Intelligence staffs and commanders must learn how to sort through reports, separating the plausible from the fictitious, integrating the reports with other forms of intelligence, and finally recognizing and exploiting a “break” into the enemy network. Once you make a break, stay on it until it pays off. Most actionable intelligence will come from locally produced HUMINT, tactical reporting, follow-up of IED and sniper attacks, detainee interrogations, and SIGINT. Work with what you have.
6. Every unit must advise their ISF partners. Joint Security Stations and Combat Outposts have put coalition and Iraqi forces shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the battlespace. Regular MiTTs can’t be everywhere, so units must help the MiTTs enforce ISF standards, enable performance, and monitor for abuses and inefficiencies. Any coalition unit working with ISF will be studied, emulated and copied – for better or worse. Therefore we must always set the example. Regardless of mission, any coalition unit operating alongside ISF is performing a mentoring, training, and example-setting role.
7. Include ISF in your operations at the lowest possible level. As foreigners, Coalition forces lack language capacity, situational and cultural awareness, and a “feel” for what is normal in the environment. ISF possess all these abilities, but lack the combat power of coalition forces. Working together, with the ISF and the local populace, we are an extremely powerful combination; working unilaterally, we can be defeated piecemeal. Therefore, units should operate with an ISF presence at the lowest feasible tactical level — ideally, at squad or platoon level. And when operating together, you must plan, sequence, and conduct operations together with local Iraqi commanders right from the outset. Units should build a genuine, field-based partnership with local ISF units: move, live, work, and fight together.
8. Look beyond the IED — get the network that placed it. Every IED provides a window into the network that placed it. If properly exploited, this window can be used to damage and roll back that network, thus ultimately defeating the threat. Of all key locations, the actual IED site is least important. Instead, units should look for early warning observation posts, firing and assembly points, and infiltration / exfiltration routes. Commanders should map IED patterns and use friendly convoy movement to trigger enemy action, having first pre-positioned SIGINT and reconnaissance assets to
identify IED teams moving into position, and to listen for communications between OPs and firing teams. Lastly, use UAVs to trace enemy firing teams back to caches and assembly areas. Over time, units that adopt a pro-active approach to IEDs will degrade enemy networks and push back the IED threat in their area. This will ultimately save more lives than a purely reactive approach.
9. Be first with the truth. PAOs and IO organizations can help manage the message and set general themes. But what Soldiers say and do speaks louder than what PAOs say; the trooper on the spot has a thousand daily interactions with Iraqis and with the global audience via the news media. While encouraging spontaneity, commanders should also communicate key messages down to the individual level, so that soldiers know what message to convey in interactions with the population and the media. When communicating, speed is critical – minutes and hours matter – and we should remember to communicate to the local (Arabic/Iraqi) audience first – the U.S./global audience can follow. Tell the truth, stay in your lane, and get the message out fast. Be forthright and never allow an enemy lie to stand unchallenged. Require accuracy, adequate context, and proper characterization from the media.
10. Make the people choose. Some in the Iraqi civilian population want to “sit on the fence” and avoid having to choose between the insurgents and the government. They attempt to protect themselves by supporting the strongest local power; however, this makes them vulnerable to enemy intimidation. We must get the Iraqi populace off the fence – and on the side of the Iraqi government. To do this, we must first persuade the population to choose to support the government. Having done this, we must make this choice irrevocable by having the citizens publicly support government programs or otherwise declare their allegiance. Once the population has chosen to support the government, they will become vulnerable to the insurgents were we to leave. So, together with the ISF, we must protect the population, where they live. People in Iraq exercise choice collectively, not just individually; win over local leaders to encourage the community to shift to the side of the new Iraq.

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