Friday, January 11, 2008

Old Army vs New Army and Surge Tactics

Some are concerned that the US military is just staying the course in Iraq. Apparently there has been a big argument in the Army that change was required from the “old Army” view that when fighting we should locate the enemy and obliterate them and their resources versus fighting a counterinsurgency effort. On CSPAN’s Book Notes Lt. Colonel John A. Nagl, who wrote the Foreword of the new “U. S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual”, said the old Army “didn’t get it”. He said that previously counterinsurgency was the province of the special forces, but now the Manual was for the entire Army and Marine Corps to adopt.

See Lt. Colonel Nagl’s article “The Evolution and Importance of Army/Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency” at “When the Iraqi insurgency emerged the Army had not published a field manual on the subject of counterinsurgency for more than twenty years, since the wake of the El Salvador campaign. The Army therefore did not have all of the equipment it needed to protect its soldiers against the time-honored insurgent tactic of roadside bombs. It had not trained its soldiers that the key to success in counterinsurgency is protecting the population, nor had it empowered them with all of the political, diplomatic, and linguistic skills they needed to accomplish that objective. The Army did not even have a common understanding of the problems inherent in any counterinsurgency campaign, as it had not studied such battles, digested their lessons, and debated ways to achieve success in counterinsurgency campaigns. It is not unfair to say that in 2003 most Army officers knew more about the U.S. Civil War than they did about counterinsurgency.”

“…October 2005, when Lieutenant General David Petraeus returned from his second tour in Iraq to assume command of CAC and take responsibility for all doctrinal development in the United States Army.” “…the urgent need to reform their services to make them more capable of conducting this most difficult kind of war.” “...a balance between the discriminate targeting of irreconcilable insurgents and the persuasion of less committed enemies to give up the fight with the political, economic, and informational elements of power.”

“Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency” in the first Chapter on page 47. These capture the often counterintuitive nature of counterinsurgency. The nine maxims turn conventional military thinking on its head, highlighting the extent of the change required for a conventional military force to adapt itself to the demands of counterinsurgency.”

“The field manual emphasizes the primary role of traditionally non-military activities … it understands that, while firepower is the determinant of success in conventional warfare, the key to victory in counterinsurgency is intelligence on the location and identity of the insurgent enemy derived from a supportive population … drive the Army’s intelligence system away from a focus on analysis of conventional enemy units toward a personality-based understanding of the networks of super-empowered individuals that comprise the most dangerous enemies the United States confronts today.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger wrote January 12, 2007
“In broadest outline, the [Surge] plan divides Baghdad into nine districts, essentially neighborhoods. The job of providing daily security in each district will be undertaken by an Iraqi army brigade of several thousand soldiers, a U.S. support battalion of up to 1,000 troops, and most importantly, about 20 U.S. military "embeds" or advisers.”
“Rather than attach just a single U.S. military adviser to an Iraqi commander at the division level, the Marines put advisers alongside Iraqi units down to the NCO level. They stayed with and fought with their Iraqi counterparts 24/7. And the Marines reported that the Iraqis fought with more confidence and effect, a k a spine-stiffening.”
“The manual describes in detail the purpose, theory, tactics and problems (including spikes in violence and casualties) likely to emerge during the new counterinsurgency strategy.”

The “surge” is certainly not just adding additional troops. The enemy is thinking and changing and, thanks to General Petraeus, the U.S. Army is also thinking and altering tactics.


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