Counterinsurgency: A Guide for Policy-Makers

It’s not surprising that books about the wars we are in are so popular, but who would have thought some of the most popular readings would be U.S. Army doctrine? The purpose of doctrine is to provide guidance on how – and often why – to conduct operations. They used to be dry reads but now they are written to be accessible by those both inside and outside the military.

The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, also known as FM 3-24, did remarkably well. The Army’s recently revised Operations Manual, or FM 3-0, is also popular. However, while FM 3-24 still does reasonably well on Amazon (over a year old and it’s in the top 5,000), the latest addition to the public library is the Stability Operations Manual, or FM 3-07. This is doing very well with apparently more then 250,000 downloads in the last three weeks. The growing popularity of official U.S. military instruction manuals is fascinating. It is likely a factor of both the militarization of our foreign policy and the transition of our Armed Forces to a learning organization that has the wherewithal and desire to understand and adapt to changing conditions.

The resources available to permit the time and manpower to develop these manuals and to reinforce the iterative learning processes is one the rest of Government lacks – save perhaps for the USIP. As a result, there has been a paucity of equivalent material aimed at policy-makers.

However, there is a new book that’s due to hit the market next month that addresses this void: Counterinsurgency: A Guide for Policy-Makers. At The Washington Independent, Spencer Ackerman writes about the book:

There are lessons in the handbook that the U.S. government has clearly been reluctant to adopt. It explicitly instructs policy-makers to “co-opt” insurgents whenever possible — something that the Bush administration’s rhetoric about the “evils” of Iraqi and Afghan insurgents makes problematic.”The purpose of COIN,” the handbook says, “is to build popular support for a government while suppressing or co-opting an insurgent movement.”

Kilcullen added that negotiations are a two-way street in counterinsurgency. “A government that offers [insurgents] no concessions [will] usually lose,” he said, but “an insurgency that offers no concessions will usually lose.” Another piece of advice — one that resonates in the wake of the administration’s torture scandals — simply reads, “Respect People.”

Similarly, the handbook attempts to integrate civilian and military agencies into a concerted strategy — something the Bush administration has been unable to substantively accomplish in Iraq and Afghanistan. “COIN planning should integrate civilian and military capabilities across each of the four COIN strategy functions of security, politics, economics and information,” it reads.

More to come here at MountainRunner.

The Spectrum of War and Peace and the Role of Public Diplomacy

Spectrum of War and Peace (2008)

I was on the wrap-up panel at the end of an unnamed conference a few months ago where I verbally presented the idea of a spectrum of war and peace as it related to the subject matter. Movement along this spectrum, as I described it, changes the appropriateness, and effectiveness, of different elements of power and methods engagement. But at no time, especially in today’s global information environment, global diasporas, and the relative increased power of individuals and non-state actors relative to states and state-actors, does the power of persuasion through information go away.

Continue reading “The Spectrum of War and Peace and the Role of Public Diplomacy

Isn’t capitalism about building capital?

Just a thought, but as we look at the causes of the economic crisis, shouldn’t we remember that capitalism is (was?) about building capital and not short-term, pecuniary gain? I’m not economist, but it also seems to me that the engine of functional and enduring economies is a large and vibrant middle class whose membership, as well as the membership above and below, is dynamic. Should that engine fail to start or sputter, then social upheaval is guaranteed. We know this. It’s what drove the Marshall Plan and is central to our maturing doctrine and practice for building state-capacity elsewhere.


“An overview of the review team’s mission obtained by The Post says that including other government agencies and other nations in the planning will ‘mitigate the risk of over-militarization of efforts and the development of short-term solutions to long-term problems.’ … Another priority is to take a regional approach to the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including more robust diplomacy with neighbors and a regional economic development effort.” – from a Washington Post article by Ann Scott Tyson on General David Petraeus’s 100-day assessment of strategy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.

“We also pride ourselves on our ability to move ahead of the sound of guns. If we can move ahead of the sound of guns, and prevent them, we’re all better off.” – SOCOM Commander Adm. Eric T. Olson quoted in the Los Angeles Times. SOCOM’s operating mantra of “by, with, and through” the indigenous population is how informational activities must also act.

“The United States’ current counterterrorism strategy lacks any efforts to break the terrorists’ ties to the communities that conceal them and the culture of martyrdom that inspires them.” Malcolm Nance in Foreign Policy (subscription req’d)

“As we’ve noted before, today’s jihadists don’t just use the Internet, occasionally.  ‘They don’t exist without the Web,’ says Naval Postgraduate School professor John Arquilla. Everything from recruiting to training to propaganda is handled online.” – Noah Shachtman at Wired. Twenty years+ ago is was “media is the oxygen of the terrorist.” Today, New Media and traditional media are the oxygen of the terrorist, the insurgent, the counterinsurgent, and the counterterrorist.

“A project at the University of Sao Paulo aims to overcome one of these hurdles by using the sun to power a self-contained wi-fi access point.” – BBC World Service. This is an ICT4D application that empower and engage poor communities in susceptible regions. See also Picking ICT Targets and ICT to Deny Sanctuary.

“When conducting HA missions, PSYOP is necessary for initiating and coordinating reliable communications among aid workers and with the local populace. … CA operations cannot succeed without winning “the hearts and minds” of the people, and PSYOP cannot succeed without CA support.” – short paper by Myrtle Vacirca-Quinn, M.D. Sternfeld and Luis Carlos Montalván at Small Wars Journal.

“German diplomats, for example, spend a year in a sort of Foreign Service boot camp and are expected to speak fluent French and English before being posted abroad. American diplomats typically get seven weeks—most of it spent learning rules and regulations, not economics or political science or history or even management skills—before they’re thrown into a consular job somewhere overseas.” Andrew Curry writing about the Foreign Service Officer Test in Foreign Policy. See also the report by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

“This is the imperative to rely far more on traditional diplomacy, public diplomacy and foreign aid delivered through civilian means to begin to repair America’s face and effectively conduct its business abroad.” – Pat Kushlis at WhirldView.

Last note: I have the Paret edition, how about you?

Realizing the value of Foreign Aid

The importance of foreign aid programs in building capacity, empowering foreign populations, and denying physical and ideological sanctuary to our adversaries is finally coming to the forefront. The militarization of America’s foreign policy is more than Defense leadership in informational engagement and propagating a comprehensive approach to stability operations, but in the management of foreign aid for development. As was noted in a conference call with LTG Caldwell this week, the percentage of the foreign aid budget the Defense Department manages has skyrocketed.

Continue reading “Realizing the value of Foreign Aid

Report: The “militarization” of diplomacy exists and is accelerating

The American Academy of Diplomacy came out with a critical and honest assessment of the militarization of America’s public diplomacy. The report emphasizes the lack of personnel, expertise, and overall resources to do its effectively do the job required. From the executive summary:

…our foreign affairs capacity is hobbled by a human capital crisis. We do not have enough people to meet our current responsibilities. Looking forward, requirements are expanding. Increased diplomatic needs in Iraq, Afghanistan and “the next” crisis area, as well as global challenges in finance, the environment, terrorism and other areas have not been supported by increased staffing. Those positions that do exist have vacancy rates approaching 15% at our Embassies and Consulates abroad and at the State Department in Washington, DC. USAID’s situation is even more dire. Today, significant portions of the nation’s foreign affairs business simply are not accomplished. The work migrates by default to the military that does have the necessary people and funding but neither sufficient experience nor knowledge. The “militarization” of diplomacy exists and is accelerating.

Currently the Secretary of State lacks the tools – people, competencies, authorities, programs and funding – to execute the President’s foreign policies. The status quo cannot continue without serious damage to our vital interests. We must invest on an urgent basis in our capabilities in the State Department, USAID, and related organizations to ensure we can meet our foreign policy and national security objectives. There must be enough diplomatic, public diplomacy, and foreign assistance professionals overseas and they cannot remain behind the walls of fortress embassies. They must be equipped and trained to be out, engaged with the populace and, where needed, working closely with the nation’s military forces to advance America’s interests and goals. This report provides a plan and a process to begin and carry forward the rebuilding of America’s foreign affairs capability.

Continue reading “Report: The “militarization” of diplomacy exists and is accelerating

New Army Doctrine Places Stability Operations Equal to Military Combat Power

While military operations may neutralize immediate “kinetic” threats, enduring change comes from stabilizing the unstable and building capacity to self-govern where there is none. Security, humanitarian relief, governance, economic stabilization, and development are critical for ultimate democratization, but more importantly, for peace and security locally and globally. Without competent and comprehensive engagement in these areas of “soft power,” tactical “hard power” operations are simply a waste of time, money, and life.

This week the U.S. Army released a new field manual, FM 3-07 Stability Operations, to adapt the military to these requirements of the modern age. The manual “represents a milestone in Army doctrine,” writes LTG Bill Caldwell in the foreword.

It is a roadmap from conflict to peace, a practical guidebook for adaptive, creative leadership at a critical time in our history. It institutionalizes the hard-won lessons of the past while charting a path for tomorrow. This manual postures our military forces for the challenges of an uncertain future, an era of persistent conflict where the unflagging bravery of our Soldiers will continue to carry the banner of freedom, hope, and opportunity to the people of the world.

Continue reading “New Army Doctrine Places Stability Operations Equal to Military Combat Power

Reconstruction and Stabilization Corps to be Enacted

Military operations may neutralize immediate kinetic threats and strategic communications may make promises, but enduring change comes from systemic overhauls that stabilize unstable regions. Security, humanitarian relief, governance, economic stabilization, and development are critical for stability and denial of sanctuary for violent extremism, terrorism, and insurgency. These are the real propaganda of deeds but without competent and comprehensive action in these areas, military and diplomatic actions are simply a waste of time, money, and life.

Continue reading “Reconstruction and Stabilization Corps to be Enacted

Event: AFRICOM and Beyond: The Future of U.S.-African Security and Defense Relations

From the American Enterprise Institute:

The October 1 operational launch of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), on the eve of a new American presidential administration, provides an unprecedented opportunity to reshape U.S. strategy toward Africa. Significant attention has been devoted to the structure and functions of AFRICOM–and to its strategic communications challenges. Less thought, however, has been given to identifying the core security interests that should guide U.S. strategy on the continent or to defining the new kinds of partnership with a more self-assured Africa that are most likely to advance those interests.

With its capacity for political as well as military engagement and for conflict prevention as well as traditional war-fighting, AFRICOM has the potential to serve as a model for future interagency security cooperation efforts abroad. But what AFRICOM does is more important than how the command is structured. What is the strategic rationale for increased U.S. security engagement with African countries? What are the emerging threats and challenges in Africa, and how should they be addressed? AEI’s Mauro De Lorenzo and Thomas Donnelly will host two panel discussions with African security experts to answer these and other questions.

When: Wednesday, October 1, 2008  10:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Where: Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

Register here.

See also:

Event: “Defending Hamdan” at CTLab

Starting today and continuing through next Friday, the blog The Complex Terrain Laboratory is holding an online symposium titled “Defending Hamdan.” The symposium is CTlab’s first, and is the first in a series entitled Social Sciences in War. This symposium revolves around the personal account of Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, an historian of Central Asia and Al Qaeda based at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, of his experiences as an expert witness in the Guantanamo Bay trial of Salim Hamdan, “bin Laden’s driver.”

Scholars from the the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand will participate in the symposium.

  • David Betz: Insurgency Research Group, Dept. of War Studies, King’s College London
  • Christian Bleuer: Political Science, Australian National University
  • John Matthew Barlow: History, Concordia University
  • Craig Hayden: Int’l Communications, American University,
  • Kevin Jon Heller: Law, University of Auckland/University of Melbourne,
  • John Horgan: Psychology, Pennsylvania State University
  • Thomas Johnson: Cultural Studies, Naval Postgraduate School
  • Jason Ralph: Politics & International Studies, University of Leeds
  • William Snyder: Law, University of Syracuse/Maxwell School
  • Marc Tyrrell: Anthropology, Carleton University, blogger
  • Tony Waters: Sociology, Chico State University
  • L.L. Wynn: Anthropology, Macquarie University

The first five installments of Dr. Williams’ account have already been posted to the weblog:

With the fifth post, the symposium will be formally launched with two forthcoming introductory blog posts, one providing the background and outlines of the symposium, the other surveying coverage of the Hamdan trial in the law blogosphere.

This will be an event worth following. The implications are substantial and go beyond the immediate issue of Hamdan and should go toward basic understanding of the culture and rule of law and perceptions.

Smart power is the effective use of economics and development, diplomacy, force, and truthful information

One in a series of quick posts compiled from the plane, in other words, a quick run through the ‘to review / comment’ pile… 

From Thom Shanker in the New York Times, The Secretary of Defense, not State,

…challenged Western powers on Friday to avoid past mistakes of lurching between excessive military resolve and excessive restraint, as the world faces threats from a resurgent Russia, violent Islamic extremism and rogue leaders seeking nuclear arms. … He suggested that Europe and the United States help rebuild Georgia and, at the same time, put the Kremlin’s desired membership in global economic organizations on hold until Russian leaders return to acceptable behavior.

Sharia courts in Britain

One in a series of quick posts compiled from the plane, in other words, a quick run through the ‘to review / comment’ pile… 

From across the Pond:

Five sharia courts have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester and Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

The government has quietly sanctioned that their rulings are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court. Previously, the rulings were not binding and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.

Lawyers have issued grave warnings about the dangers of a dual legal system and the disclosure drew criticism from Opposition leaders.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: "If it is true that these tribunals are passing binding decisions in the areas of family and criminal law, I would like to know which courts are enforcing them because I would consider such action unlawful. British law is absolute and must remain so."

In July, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Lord Chief Justice agreed that Muslims in Britain should be able to live according to Islamic law to decide financial and marital disputes.

Mr Siddiqi said he expected the courts to handle a greater number of "smaller" criminal cases in coming years as more Muslim clients approach them.

Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh. "All we are doing is regulating community affairs in these cases," said Mr Siddiqi, chairman of the governing council of the tribunal.

There are concerns for women suffering under the Islamic laws, which favours men. Mr Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.

The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia.

Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts. In the six cases of domestic violence, Mr Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders.



"We can’t kill our way to victory, and no armed force anywhere — no matter how good — can deliver these keys alone. It requires teamwork and cooperation." – Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the House Armed Services Committee on the need for capacity-building and not just bullets, bombs, and roads. See CNN.

“Ever since my release from prison on August 7, 2004, I have been spreading my message across Kashmir. I have a three-point programme. First to impose an Islamic nizam (Islamic system) [in] Kashmir. Islam should govern our lives, be it in our political thought, socio-economic plans, culture or [other…]. The creed of socialism and secularism should not touch our lives, and we must be totally governed by the Koran and the Sunnat (precedents from Prophet Mohammad’s life). … Osama has come only during the last few years. People like me have been fighting for this all our lives. I do not want to be compared with Osama.” — Syed Ali Geelani, former Jamaat-e-Islami leader who currently heads the hard-line, pro-Pakistan and Islamist faction of a secessionist alliance in Kashmir.

“I cannot lie to you. The [Pakistan] army comes in, and they fire at empty buildings. It is a drama — it is just to entertain.” Entertain whom? “America.” – Taliban commander in FATA interviewed by Dexter Filkins in the New York Times Magazine.

Bulletproof designs add style to growing Mexico security industry – AFP news headline on a response to declining state capacity (and confidence) in America’s southern neighbor.

“The president would come armed with what Hadley called ‘sweeteners’ — more budget money and a promise to increase the size of the active-duty Army and Marine Corps.” – Bob Woodward’s preview to his new book in the Washington Post. See also Armchair Generalist and Abu Muqawama on same.

“POLITICO’S decision to make its content available for major new media outlets is another kick in the contract for The Associated Press war with newspapers.” – Tim McGuire on new competition the AP is facing from See E&P and McGuire’s post.

Arab jails: a synonym for torture and repression? Or is that an exaggeration?

That was the topic of today’s (29 April 2008) al-Jazeera show The Opposite Direction according to Arab Media Shack.  However, stay tuned to AMS because GrandMasta Splash decided to watch football, er, soccer instead of watching al-Jazeera for us in the U.S. who a) don’t get satellite (it’s unAmerican to broadcast AJ in the U.S. dontchaknow) and/or b) don’t know Arabic.  Thankfully, AMS does watch and know Arabic…

The Secretaries of State and Defense on S/CRS

Briefly, both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates testified 15 April 2008 in front of the House Armed Services Committee.  I’ve been told, but haven’t confirmed, this is the first time the Secretary of State has been in front of HASC.  The Secretaries were testifying on “Building Partnership Capacity and the Development of the Interagency Process” and thus talking about Section 1206 and Section 1207 funding.

The Secretary of State described the structure of the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, S/CRS:

…I would be the first to say that our military did take on more tasks than perhaps would have been preferred, and we began some work when I was still National Security Advisor to think through how we might build a civilian institution that would be — would be up to the task. We have, as a result, a Civilian Stabilization Initiative. This initiative would create a rapid civilian response capacity for use in stabilization and reconstruction environments. It could be deployed alongside the military with international partners or on its own.

The Civilian Stabilization Initiative consists of three kinds of civilian responders: an active response corps [ARC] of diplomats and interagency federal employees who are selected and trained for this capability; a standby response corps [SRC] of federal employees; and finally, a civilian reserve corps [CRC] of private sector, local government and civil society experts with specialized skill sets.

And I might especially underscore the importance of this last component, because it is never going to be possible to keep within the environs of the State Department, or really even government agencies, the full range of expertise that one needs in state building; for instance, city planners or justice experts or police training experts. And so this civilian component, to be able to draw on the broader national community of experts, Americans who might wish to volunteer to go to a place like Afghanistan or Haiti or Liberia to help in state building, we think is an important innovation. The President talked about this in his State of the Union one year ago, and we are now ready to put that capacity into place. We have requested $248.6 million in the Presidents foreign assistance budget for the construction of that corps.

Yes, if you’ve been following along, there’s a new name here: Civilian Stabilization Initiative, or CSI (you may add your own joke about an association with the popular CBS show in the comments or via email if you so desire).  I’m confirming that CSI is just window dressingConfirmed: CSI is the name for the name for the FY09 budget request for the ARC, SRC, and CRC.

Now, the Secretary of Defense (click here for the submitted text) on the other hand spoke in general terms. 

I know members of the Committee also have questions about Section 1207, which currently allows Defense to transfer up to $100 million to State to bring civilian expertise to bear alongside our military. We recently agreed with State to seek a five-year extension and an increase in the authority to $200 million. A touchstone for the Defense Department is that 1207 should be for civilian support to the military – either by bringing civilians to serve with our military forces or in lieu of them.

That’s it for now.

Hard Power, Soft Power, Smart Power

Ernest J. Wilson, III, the Dean of the Annenberg School of Communication at USC, has an article in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (sub req’d) titled “Hard power, Soft Power, Smart Power.” 

In this paper Ernie argues the zero-sum relationship between hard and soft power must be replaced by a dynamic application of power, hard and soft, across a continuum appropriate for time and place known as Smart Power. 

Continue reading “Hard Power, Soft Power, Smart Power

Secretary Rice comments on State’s Office of the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization

image Speaking at Air University at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base recently, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked about the Office of the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization.  The Secretary’s long response is short on detail and incomplete in what hints at the low priority she has given an office, known as S/CRS, that is very much required today and tomorrow. 

The Secretary’s focus on the “2,000 or so Americans” in the Civilian Response Corps that is to draw from the general public modeled on the military’s reserve system ignores the two much more important components of S/CRS, the Active Response Corps (ARC) and the Stand-By Response Corps (SRC), that draw from government agencies: State, USAID, Transportation,  and the Justice and Agricultural Departments, among others.  See my post, In-sourcing the Tools of National Power for Success and Security, at Small Wars Journal for more on S/CRS, what it is and what it is intended to be. 

Continue reading “Secretary Rice comments on State’s Office of the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization

AFRICOM: DOA or in Need of Better Marketing? No and Yes. (Updated)

image Like Mark Twain’s "death" in 1897 (he died in 1910), reports of AFRICOM’s demise may be exaggerated.  Concerns that AFRICOM hasn’t been thought out or is unnecessary aren’t supported by the actions and statements of those charged with building this entity.  However, based on the poor marketing of AFRICOM, these concerns are not surprising.

I attended USC’s AFRICOM conference earlier this month and between panel discussions and offline conversations, I came away with a new appreciation (and hope) for the newest, and very different, command. 

This is not like the other Combatant Commands (one DOD representative said they dropped "Combatant" from the title, but depending on where you look, either all the commands include "Combatant" or none of the commands do).  Also unlike other commands, AFRICOM is "focused on prevention and not containment or fighting wars."  This is, as one speaker continued, is a "risk-laden experiment" that is like an Ironman with multidisciplinary requirements and always different demands (note: thank you for not saying it’s a marathon… once you’ve done one marathon, they’re easy, you can "fake" a marathon… Ironman triathlons are always unpredictable.).  The goal, he continued, was to "keep combat troops off the continent for 50 years" because the consensus was, once troops landed on Africa, it would be extremely difficult to take them off. 

Continue reading “AFRICOM: DOA or in Need of Better Marketing? No and Yes. (Updated)

Food insecurity in Iraq

Briefly, World Food Program’s report on food insecurity in Iraq came out yesterday.  See the details here.

Why are they food insecure?

Decades of conflict and economic sanctions have had serious effects on Iraqis. Their consequences have been rising unemployment, illiteracy and, for some families, the loss of wage earners. Iraq’s food insecurity is not simply due to a lack of production of sufficient food at the national level, but also a failure of livelihoods to guarantee access to sufficient food at the household level. The results of this study suggest that food insecurity in Iraq is a result of many chronic factors and their complicated interactions, amongst which are the following:

Weak infrastructure: as a result of conflict, which has destroyed much of Iraq’s infrastructure in many sectors. Water and sanitation in particular continue to undermine the community’s ability to recover. An estimated 22 percent in extremely poor districts are dependant on water tankers and vehicles as a main source of drinking water compared to 4 percent in the better-off districts. In addition 18 percent depend on streams, rivers and lakes for their water supplies in the poorer areas compared to 8 percent in the better-off districts.

What are the key elements of reconstruction and stabilization?  Not Big Army, but door to door neighborhood checks on electricity delivery, water availability, and trash pickup. 

See also: