Thursday, December 29, 2016

The COIN Conundrum: The Future of Counterinsurgency and U.S. Land Power

The 95 page monograph can be downloaded directly at this link: http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/download.cfm?q=1336  I have pasted the summary below.  Although I am a little partial to the work that has been done in the Philippines I find his recommendations quite unusual and one I cannot completely agree with, namely that the Philippines provides the model for future COIN campaigns.

It could, instead, try to train two-speed soldiers capable of conducting conventional and unconventional operations; or, it could keep COIN as a core function of an enhanced SOCOM with the capability to train conventional forces in unconventional tactics should a large expeditionary COIN mission be deployed. This monograph concludes that the forth option best equips the Army for the contemporary security environment. It then makes specific recommendations for implementing this option and suggests the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF)-Philippines as the model for future COIN campaigns. Finally, the monograph maintains that an enhanced special operations forces (SOF) capability will not adversely affect preparation for conventional war-fighting. Improving the conventional forces’ tooth-to-tail ratio, continuing to develop labor-saving technologies, and relying on contractors to perform support functions can offset reallocation of personnel to SOCOM.

What I find incredible is that the author bases his recommendations on two sources (and Greg's is an excellent source but I would think the author would have turned to the recent comprehensive RAND study by Linda Robinson and her team (http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1236.html) :

83. Details on SOF support for Philippine military from Jim
Michaels, “Philippines a model for counterinsurgency,” USA
03-30-secretwar30_ST_N.htm, accessed on November 27, 2015.

84. Colonel Gregory Wilson, “Anatomy of a Successful COIN
Operation: OEF-PHILIPPINES and the Indirect Approach,” Military
Review: The Professional Journal of the U.S. Army, Vol. LXXXVI,
No. 6, November-December 2006, p. 6. 77

85. Ibid., pp. 7-8.

86. Michaels, “Philippines a model for counterinsurgency.”

I have long argued that OEF-P is not a model in itself.  It was suited for the conditions that existed there (political, cultural, and security).  I can sum up the lessons from OEF-P that are enduring that provide only basis for a model:  conduct a thorough assessment/estimate to gain as complete understanding of the situation as possible, develop and execute a campaign plan that supports US policy and national strategy and that is appropriate for the situation: one that supports a friend, partner, or ally in its internal defense and development programs to help them to defend themselves against lawless, subversion, insurgency, and terrorism in complete synchronization with the US country team while respecting and protecting host nation sovereignty.  That is the "model" in a nutshell.  

The COIN Conundrum: The Future of Counterinsurgency and U.S. Land Power

The COIN Conundrum: The Future... Cover Image








Brief Synopsis

View the Executive Summary

Counterinsurgency (COIN) continues to be a controversial subject among military leaders. Critics argue that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made the U.S. military, particularly the Army, "COIN-centric." They maintain that equipping U.S. forces to combat insurgency has eroded their conventional war fighting capabilities. Those committed to preserving and even enhancing COIN capabilities, on the other hand, insist that doing so need not compromise the ability of the military to perform other tasks. They also point out that the likelihood of even a mid-level conventional war remains low while the probability of unconventional engagements is high. This monograph reviews the COIN debate, analyzes current force structure, and concludes that contrary to the more extreme positions taken by critics and proponents, the U.S. military has achieved a healthy balance between COIN and other capabilities.

SUMMARY
The debate over counterinsurgency (COIN), seemingly
dormant since the end of the Vietnam War, has
been rekindled by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since the 2006 publication of the U.S. Army/
Marine Corps Field Manual (FM) 3-24, Counterinsurgency,
practitioners and scholars have argued over
the efficacy of COIN. Supporters insist that the new
approach outlined in the manual led to the creation of
a strategy that defeated the Iraqi insurgents between
2006-2009. Critics argue that the surge of 30,000 additional
troops, robust conventional operations, and the
end of the Shia uprising—not a new COIN strategy—
caused violence in Iraq to decline dramatically. They
point to the failure of the campaign in Afghanistan as
further evidence that COIN does not work. In an era
of declining Pentagon budgets, this debate has significant
implications for U.S. land forces.
This monograph considers the place of COIN in
U.S. Army doctrine, training, and resource allocation.
It begins with a brief overview of the U.S. military’s
historical experience combating insurgency before
considering the recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The monograph then examines in detail the contemporary,
scholarly, and professional debate over
the efficacy of COIN and its place in U.S. defense planning.
Recognizing that consideration of this important
issue must be grounded in an examination of the
contemporary security environment, the monograph
reviews official threat assessments. It then considers
the current U.S. military capacity for addressing identified
threats. That capacity includes force structure,
doctrine, and learning institutions.

Building on this analytical framework, this monograph
considers four options vis-à-vis COIN. The
Army could revert to the post-Vietnam Era approach,
focusing on conventional war and relegating COIN
to a small Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
It could reconfigure its force structure to focus on
unconventional threats. It could, instead, try to train
two-speed soldiers capable of conducting conventional
and unconventional operations; or, it could keep
COIN as a core function of an enhanced SOCOM with
the capability to train conventional forces in unconventional
tactics should a large expeditionary COIN
mission be deployed. This monograph concludes that
the forth option best equips the Army for the contemporary
security environment. It then makes specific
recommendations for implementing this option
and suggests the Joint Special Operations Task Force
(JSOTF)-Philippines as the model for future COIN
campaigns. Finally, the monograph maintains that an
enhanced special operations forces (SOF) capability
will not adversely affect preparation for conventional
war-fighting. Improving the conventional forces’
tooth-to-tail ratio, continuing to develop labor-saving
technologies, and relying on contractors to perform
support functions can offset reallocation of personnel
to SOCOM.

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