Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Rise of the “BASF” Doctrine? (COIN, FID, Special Warfare and the Indirect Approach)

Good commentary on Fernando Lujan's paper on the "Light Footprint."

Not to spoil this but I do like the "BASF Doctrine which I think is a good analogy to use for Special Warfare.  Here is the footnote reference:
*BASF’s slogan is: “We don't make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.”Ò
The Rise of the “BASF” Doctrine?
Posted by Michael Noonan
March 17, 2013 - 3:27pm

In a world of irregular—and regular—threats and in a nation confronting fiscal austerity and seemingly showing an increased aversion to the large commitments of troops to the ambiguities of large-scale counterinsurgency campaigns after a decade of such wars how is a great power to advance and secure its interests under such circumstance? One approach that has been floated more and more recently is the light footprint—or indirect approach—for dealing with irregular threats and challengers. To boil this down into two sentences, much like the famous slogan of the chemical company BASF,* such an approach would be: We don’t fight your insurgency or terrorists for you. We help you counter your insurgency or terrorists better.**

What would such an approach look like? While examples like the British in Dhofar, Oman (1965-1976) and the U.S. in El Salvador (1980-1992) are sometimes discussed, U.S. Army Special Forces MajorFernando M. Lujan has recently offered a 21st century model for this type of approach in his monograph “Light Footprints: The Future of American Military Intervention.”***

In a similar fashion to the opening discussion above, Lujan frames the strategic logic of his intervention model as:

Looming budget cuts, ground forces worn down by years of repeated deployments, and a range of ever evolving security challenges from Mali to Libya and Yemen are quickly making “light footprint” military interventions a central part of American strategy. Instead of “nation building” with large, traditional military formations, civilian policymakers are increasingly opting for a combination of air power, special operators, intelligence agents, indigenous armed groups and contractors, often leveraging relationships with allies and enabling partner militaries to take more active roles.
But he cautions that this approach is hardly a panacea. (He also warns that the American public and policymakers should not get too comfortable with the efficacy of drone strikes and commando raids.)****

He notes that

The specific tactics involved in these operations may vary, but the guiding philosophy is clear: Send tens or hundreds instead of surging thousands. Be patient and work quietly within the constraints of the existing political and social ecosystem. Help others to help themselves instead of doing the work alone. But when necessary, act unilaterally with lethal, surgical precision. (p. 7)

But such unilateral action should be used sparingly because

 …while direct, unilateral action can be very effective in the short term, it should be undertaken sparingly and judiciously, balanced with nonkinetic civilian-led initiatives such as political reconciliation, reintegration or influence campaigns, and ultimately phased out over time to be replaced by efforts undertaken by local, indigenous police or military forces. (p. 15) 
Lujan devises an eight-step checklist to the light footprint approach:
(Continued at the link below)

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