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May 13, 2010

Does Everyone Hear That Sound . . .
Posted by Michael Cohen

 . . . it's just me repeatedly banging my head against a wall after reading this:

Nearly a decade after the United States began to focus its military training and equipment purchases almost exclusively on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military strategists are quietly shifting gears, saying that large-scale counterinsurgency efforts cost too much and last too long.

The domestic economic crisis and the Obama administration's commitment to withdraw from Iraq and begin drawing down in Afghanistan next year are factors in the change. The biggest spur, however, is a growing recognition that large-scale counterinsurgency battles have high casualty rates for troops and civilians, eat up equipment that must be replaced and rarely end in clear victory or defeat.

In addition, military thinkers say such wars have put the U.S.'s technologically advanced ground forces on the defensive while less sophisticated insurgent forces are able to remain on the offensive.

I would just like to point out that this is precisely the argument I was making last March and April as to why COIN in general - and COIN in Afghanistan - were such bad ideas:

The enshrining of counter-insurgency doctrine presupposes that these types of conflicts will be “the face of battle in the 21st century.” I find this very hard to swallow. Not only is there a lack of political will in the US to engage in the sort of long-term counter-insurgency that we fought in Iraq, but I'm not so sure why we would want our military to engage in this type of conflict. If the Iraq War has shown us anything it is that counter-insurgency is not the most effective type of war for the US military to be fighting - and that the benefits that might be gleaned from such a conflict would be more than outweighed by the costs. Now some might argue that we have no choice but to fight such a conflict; that it will be forced upon us. My response is poppycock. The only reason the US would fight a counter-insurgency is if we choose to; and that's a choice we simply should not make because in part, it is difficult to contemplate any sort of protracted counter-insurgency that will further US interests.

But if you think I'm going to stop banging my head against a wall over this article. . . think again:

Counterinsurgency "is a good way to get out of a situation gone bad," but it's not the best way to use combat forces, said Andrew Exum, a fellow with the Washington-based Center for a New American Security. "I think everyone realizes counterinsurgency is a losing proposition for U.S. combat troops. I can't imagine anyone would opt for this option."

UGH!! Ignoring the fact that "COIN is good way to get America out of bad situations" is a deeply dubious statement . . . here we are in Afghanistan doing the exact thing that Andrew can't imagine anyone would opt for. And he was on the review team that recommended to the President he had only one option for turning the situation around in Afghanistan - population centric COIN!

I have said this once and I will say it again; if everyone thinks that COIN is a losing proposition and is such a bad idea . . . could EVERYONE PLEASE SAY IT . . . RIGHT NOW . . . AS WE ARE WAGING A COIN FIGHT IN AFGHANISTAN.

Now excuse me while I go back to banging my head against a wall.

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The whole military institution is threatened by COIN.

Why have tanks and an armor school that preaches firepower and shock action at a time when the Pentagon speaks about giving medals for not shooting? The same with artillery and battle ships and fighter aircraft and platoons and ten different officer ranks and war colleges etc. etc. -- all threatened by a COIN-oriented military that would be be dedicated to building schools and helping little old ladies cross the street instead of blowing stuff up and killing people against a similarly-organized military force.

Counterinsurgency is a good way to get out of a situation gone bad that's right but not every time. Very nice article, today in every country peace is very important. And this type of article is very useful.

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The same with artillery and battle ships and fighter aircraft and platoons and ten different officer ranks and war colleges etc.
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