Friday, January 1, 2016

(Clinton Email on COIN) U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05760317 Date: 12/31/201

A fascinating email from the just released Clinton emails.   It mentions Bernard Fall's 1965 essay reprinted in the 1998 Naval War College Review "Theory and Practice of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency."  I would commend everyone to reading its 11 short pages.  It can be accessed from my blog at this link:

You might want to read the email below first and then my comments.

The email to Secretary Clinton references Fall and revolutionary warfare in Vietnam so I thought I would send the link to the entire essay and note this excerpt below which may be relevant to the discussions on the Gray Zone and other naming conventions.  I think it is also why there are those who advocate  the need to be able to conduct counter-guerrilla operations which should be the major military contribution of any campaign that addresses insurgency.  But it is the ideological aspect that makes this different from other conflicts and why I am an advocate of the study of revolution, resistance, and insurgency. (

Fall mentions that sublimited warfare is meaningless.  He must have been referencing the 1962 chart I have posted below which I think is interesting to examine in light of our search to explain AND NAME forms and characteristics of conflict short of war today.  As an aside I have also included a chart from the 1962 Special Warfare magazine (which can be downloaded at this link.  The article "Use the Right Word" is in the "Introduction" which is hot linked on the page at this link.

Excerpt from Fall's essay.

One of the problems one immediately faces is that of terminology. Obviously "sublimited warfare" is meaningless, and "insurgency" or "counterinsurgency" hardly define the problem. But the definition that I think will fit the subject is "revolutionary warfare" (RW). 

Let me state this definition: RW = G + P, or, "revolutionary warfare equals guerrilla warfare plus political action." This formula for revolutionary warfare is the result of the application of guerrilla methods to the furtherance of an ideology or a political system. This is the real difference between partisan warfare, guerrilla warfare, and everything else. "Guerrilla" simply means "small war," to which the correct Army answer is (and that applies to all Western armies) that everybody knows how to fight small wars; no second lieutenant of the infantry ever learns anything else but how to fight small wars. 

 Political action, however, is the difference. The communists, or shall we say, any sound revolutionary warfare operator (the French underground, the Norwegian underground, or any other European anti-Nazi underground) most of the time used small-war tactics--not to destroy the German Army, of which they were thoroughly incapable, but to establish a competitive system of control over the population. Of course, in order to do this, here and there they had to kill some of the occupying forces and attack some of the military targets. But above all they had to kill their own people who collaborated with the enemy. 

But the "kill" aspect, the military aspect, definitely always remained the minor aspect. The political, administrative, ideological aspect is the primary aspect. Everybody, of course, by definition, will seek a military solution to the insurgency problem, whereas by its very nature, the insurgency problem is military only in a secondary sense, and political, ideological, and administrative in a primary sense. Once we understand this, we will understand more of what is actually going on in Viet-Nam or in some of the other places affected by RW. 

U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05760317 Date: 12/31/201

by SWJ Editors

SWJ Blog Post | December 31, 2015 - 7:14pm
From today’s Department of State FOIA release of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Includes counterinsurgency discussion concerning Afghanistan strategy based on a historical perspective. Redacted portions are excluded.
UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05760317 Date: 12/31/2015
From: sbwhoeor
Sent: Friday, November 13, 2009 6:48 AM
Re: H: Memo on Afghan. Sid
Hope it's helpful. Both are available to talk.
Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry
Original Message
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 2009 06:35:10
To: 'sbwhoeop
Subject: Re: H: Memo on Afghan. Sid
Thx so much for sending.
Original Message
From: sbwhoeor
To: H
Sent: Thu Nov 12 19:25:02 2009
Subject: H: Memo on Afghan. Sid
November 12, 2009
For: Hillary
From: Sid
Re: Afghanistan strategy
Below are two documents: One is a memo frorr
Who served in the counter-insurgency program in Vietnam with John Paul Vann. He writes about Bernard Fall, the great French journalist and analyst, whom he studied with. His memo is a critique of COIN proposals and his own recommendations.
The other document consists of notes from my conversation with William Murray, former station chief of CIA in Pakistan. He was one of the members of a small CIA team, including Milt Bearden (whom you probably know and who is close to Richard Holbrooke), that directed the Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation. Murray also served as station chief elsewhere, including Lebanon. His remarks focus on the lack of a clear mission and message in Afghanistan.
I neither endorse nor disputes and Murray's analyses, but simply present them.
Counterinsurgency — a much failed strategy?
Bernard Fall was one of the most significant theoreticians and practitioner of Counterinsurgency (COIN) in the 20th Century. He was the expert most listened to at the Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg when LTG William Yarborough commanded the school there in the Kennedy and Johnson eras.
Fall defined COIN clearly. He said that: Counterinsurgency = political reform + economic development + counter guerrilla operations
This theory of warfare was developed by the colonial powers as a "cure" for the wave on "wars of national liberation" that swept through their overseas possessions after World War Two. Because of these revolts against authority most of the European powers found themselves faced with colonized populations engaged in extended attempts to obtain independence from the metropole. Such rebellions were usually based on ethnic and racial differences with the colonizers and were often led by vanguard Left parties with communist connections. That connection caused an eventual American policy commitment to the COIN struggle. That commitment sometimes occurred as a partner of the colonial power (Vietnam in the late '40s and '50s) and sometimes as a successor to the colonial power after at least partial independence had bee achieved. (Vietnam after the French)
COIN theory was seen by both the former colonial officers who taught it at Bragg and their American disciples of the time as the opposite of the methods of the anti-colonial insurgents who were thought to practice something called "revolutionary warfare." (RW) Revolutionary Warfare + Political subversion (including propaganda) + economic transformation (usually socialist) + guerilla warfare (to include terrorism)
(Continued at the link below)

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