04 May 2011 @ 1:23 PM 

Graphic images of violent death are not good for the soul. Whether in person, video or pictures, we do not need to see the images of a corpse torn asunder. Suffice to say that he is dead. The President says that we don’t need to “spike the football.” He’s right about that, but it’s more than that. You may be curious, but some things are best left a matter of unsatisfied curiosity. It’s not good for you. Our baser instincts are not always good to satisfy. Most of us have already seen enough; civilians included. Cries to the contrary are that baser instinct begging for satisfaction. Read more

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Categories: analysis
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 04 May 2011 @ 01 23 PM

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 03 May 2011 @ 4:09 PM 

If your understanding of our mission in Afghanistan was that the entire operation was to capture or kill bin Laden, then it will seem as if the mission has been accomplished. All of our problems have been solved. Finis. Read more

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Categories: Afghanistan, AfPak, analysis, General Military
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 03 May 2011 @ 04 09 PM

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 28 Mar 2011 @ 12:31 PM 

The previous posts described a lot of concepts and activities. Granted, that information alone isn’t going to enable anyone to fully execute a District Stability Matrix and perform any kind of program or operational design. It’s an outline, provided in hopes of improving publicly available knowledge of what counterinsurgency and stability operations are. All too often, COIN and stability are described in the few terms that have caught on in pop culture. They are trendy to use in the media, but the reality is misrepresented or mythologized. Misunderstanding of COIN is practically viral. This breeds a separation of the American people, and more than a few academics and think-tankers, from the reality of what is actually being attemted on the ground. COIN and stability operations are grinding, difficult tasks carried out, in the case of Afghanistan, in a land and among a people that appear to be very alien at first glance. Misconceptions hinged on such misunderstood but trendy terms as, “hearts and minds,” makes the whole endeavor unfathomable without a deeper understanding. It’s a big subject, so it’s not easily described in one posting. Read more


 18 Feb 2011 @ 6:53 AM 

Note that part of information we collect and keep as part of the ASCOPE/PMESII is the enemy message; their Information Operations (IO). We track their narrative, or conversation with the people. It’s not that hard to gather. We just ask the locals what the insurgent is saying about whatever. They will usually tell us, and they will look for a reaction. We make sure that we get it straight by asking as many people as possible, right down to the casual encounter on the street. This is something that we can include our sensing of the effects that we are having. We can also gather a lot of information about the way that the people react to insurgent IO. Read more

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Categories: Afghanistan, analysis, COIN, development, doctrine, metrics, Stability Operations
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 22 Feb 2011 @ 01 33 PM

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It seems as if there is a lot to do just to get to the point of deciding on actions to take in support of counterinsurgency objectives. As we’ve seen, there is a lot to consider, a lot of information to be gathered, and a lot of disparate actors who need to be brought into the fold as much as possible. We know that we have limited time and resources, so we know that we have to work on the most pressing issues. We know that we are looking to identify the root, or systemic, causes of instability and the prerequisites for insurgency. But how does one look at all the information we’ve now become aware of and determine what is a systemic cause and what is not? How do we ensure that we are not wasting our precious resources on something that will make no real difference? Read more

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Categories: Afghanistan, analysis, COIN, doctrine, Stability Operations
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 22 Feb 2011 @ 02 08 PM

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 15 Feb 2011 @ 1:15 PM 

Now the counterinsurgents are gaining a pretty thorough understanding of the local area, with so much information that it’s hard to manage it, much less remember it. We have to form a picture out of it. The concept is getting to know the area the way that a beat cop knows the neighborhood that he works in every day for years. Read more

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Categories: Afghanistan, analysis, COIN, development, doctrine, Stability Operations
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 15 Feb 2011 @ 01 15 PM

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We know that we want to move the internal struggles inside a country away from violence (warfare) and into (or back into) the political realm. We’ve had a general look at what insurgencies consist of, why they start and what fuels them. We know that the existence of sanctuaries don’t ensure insurgent success, but are practically necessary for insurgents to have any hope of success. We know that the military/security line of operation is only one of three main lines of operation. We know that a well-developed insurgency is, at its roots, a competition to govern. So how do we resolve the insurgency without the collapse of the government and the complete take-over by insurgents? Read more

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Categories: Afghanistan, analysis, COIN, doctrine, Stability Operations
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 09 Feb 2011 @ 08 50 PM

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 08 Feb 2011 @ 2:14 AM 

Simply stated, the main goal of the counterinsurgent is to bring conflict back into the political end of the spectrum and out of the realm of warfare. Political conflict through participation is the goal, even if there is a robust opposition movement. As long as violence is no longer a political tool, and the existing framework (government, constitution?) remains in place, the counterinsurgent is successful. Read more

Tags Categories: Afghanistan, analysis, COIN, doctrine, Stability Operations Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 07 Feb 2011 @ 11 27 PM

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 05 Feb 2011 @ 8:24 AM 

Much has been made of the provision of sanctuary to Afghan insurgencies by Pakistan. Whether it is completely voluntary on the part of Pakistan is open to debate, but there is no doubt that there is a certain amount of collusion on the part of, at a minimum, the ISI and the several insurgencies. Conventional wisdom states that an insurgency that has an external safe haven will win. Conventional wisdom is often roughly equal to pop-culture wisdom. It may have it right in general and still be deeply flawed. Read more

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Categories: Afghanistan, analysis, COIN, doctrine, Stability Operations
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 05 Feb 2011 @ 08 24 AM

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 03 Feb 2011 @ 2:14 AM 

Insurgencies do not usually end with a bang. They usually end in a whimper. Statistically, according to Rand, out of 73 concluded insurgencies, 47 ended with either a government win or what Rand calls a “mixed outcome.” Rand considers a mixed outcome to be a negotiated settlement of the conflict. Government victories and negotiated endings are almost always whimpers. Insurgent success is usually with a bang. Almost exactly two thirds of insurgencies end in whimpers. Read more

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Categories: Afghanistan, AfPak, analysis, COIN, development, doctrine, Stability Operations
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 02 Feb 2011 @ 11 47 PM

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