• Counterinsurgency,  Development,  Psychological Struggle,  State Building

    Counterinsurgency Today: A Review of Eric T. Olson’s “Some of the Best Weapons for Counterinsurgents Do Not Shoot”

    By Efe Sevin The long-lasting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to increased inquiry into the concepts and practices of counterinsurgency (COIN). Eric T. Olson, in his work, focuses on the importance of reconstruction attempts in COIN operations and discusses the role of military. The author served in the U.S. Army for over three decades and retired as a Major General. Currently, Mr. Olson is an independent defense contractor and works with Army brigades and provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) who are preparing for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. As the title suggests, his monograph considers such reconstruction attempts to have uttermost importance in successful military operations.

  • Counterinsurgency,  Public Diplomacy

    Quick post: ONR and Science Diplomacy, Nagl and COIN

    I’m having some connectivity issues while in DC so posting yesterday’s event will be later today or even tonight along with a report on today’s events. Briefly on yesterday, interesting conference sessions with on Science and Technology for expeditionary warfare, assymetric warfare, sea warfare, etc. (see the right side of the ONR page for topics yesterday). Some reporting on this will appear here later. Also had an opportunity for a 20min interview with the Commanding Officer for ONR-Global which was surprisingly (to me) an excellent example of public diplomacy (better name: science diplomacy) in action. This 20min meeting went 60 minutes when I had to leave, and already late for,…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Psychological Struggle

    Cultural Warfare, continued

    A vigourous discussion on an earlier post "How Not to Conduct Cultural Warfare" (to be continued here in a new category "Cultural Warfare") should have a greater obvious context with recent news. As Eccentric Star ("Murdered US Soldiers Linked to Rape & Murder of Iraqi Civilians") notes: A link — however tenuous — between the two US soldiers who were abducted, tortured, and murdered in Iraq recently and the rape of an Iraqi woman and subsequent murder of her and her family is explosive. From an Iraqi’s perspective, this must make the insurgents who killed the US soldiers look more like righteous avengers than anything else. At some point who…

  • War

    US Army (re)learns harsh lessons in history

    Isn’t the failure to remember history instilled in nearly every school kid? The title of this post comes from a thread on a listserv that began with a comment about the US Army (US Armed Forces in general perhaps) forgetting a text from the 1980’s on counter-insurgency (COIN).

  • Africa,  China,  Public Diplomacy

    Practicing Effective Public Diplomacy in Africa (or elsewhere)

    Let’s say you’re charged with finding the path to partnership with a few dozen African countries that have resources you want and need. How would you approach the them to establish a relationship to establish a partnership? This might be especially important if you are locking for priority treatment or even to lockout a competitor. A blocking strategy would really entail developing a deep partnership of trust, or coercion. If you want to go with the trust route, believing that it will cost less in the long run (i.e. soft power vs hard power) it would make sense to establish and build trust and understanding. Perhaps even a spirit of…