Monday, 22 October 2012

Military needs to equip for COIN

From a speech by General Sir David Richards at the IISS (back in 2010):

3. Defence must respond to the new strategic, and indeed economic, environment by ensuring much more ruthlessly that our armed forces are appropriate and relevant to the context in which they will operate rather than the one they might have expected to fight in in previous eras. Too much emphasis is still placed on what Secretary Gates calls ‘exquisite’ and hugely expensive equipment. 4. - Our Defence establishment has not yet fully adapted to the security realities of the post-Cold War world and this complex and dangerous new century. US defence analyst David Wood recently described the US defence budget as encrusted with an "we've always done it this way'' convention and strategic choices attuned to the last century. - Operating among, understanding and effectively influencing people requires mass - numbers - whether this is ‘boots on the ground’, riverine and high speed littoral warships, or UAVs, transport aircraft and helicopters. They have to be able to fight but this is no longer sufficient. No nation is any better than the US in this respect and nearly all are far worse. 5. If one equips more for this type of conflict while significantly reducing investment in higher-end war-fighting capability, suddenly one can buy an impressive amount of ‘kit’. Whilst, as you will hear, I am emphatically not advocating getting rid of all such equipment, one can buy a lot of UAVs or Tucano aircraft for the cost of a few JSF and heavy tanks. 6.  - Can we take the risk? Well we have to take risk somewhere or run the far greater one of trying with inadequate resources to be all things to all conflicts and failing to succeed in any. Why this area of traditional state on state war though? - Having learnt the lessons taught by AQ, the Taliban and many other non-state actors, and thought how to exploit them perhaps on an ‘industrial’ scale, why would even a major belligerent state choose to achieve our downfall though high risk, high cost traditional means when they can plausibly achieve their aims, much more cheaply and semi-anonymously, using proxies, guerrillas, economic subterfuge and cyber warfare?

Even the generals are saying it.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Fabius Maximus's COIN reading list

Two lists by Fabius Maximus: one on the failure of COIN and the other on insurgencies against foreign armies:

Posts about COIN:
  1. More paths to failure in Iraq, 16 December 2006 — Myths about COIN in Iraq
  2. 28 Articles: a guide to a successful insurgency against America, 7 May 2007
  3. Is COIN the graduate level of military hubris?, 30 July 2008
  4. COIN as future generations will see it (and as we should see it today), 1 July 2010
  5. COIN – Now we see that it failed. But that was obvious before we started (when will we learn?), 6 December 2011
  6. COIN, another example of our difficulty learning from history or experience, 7 December 2011
  7. “COIN of the Realm” – reviewing one of the books driving our strategy in the Long War, 18 March 2012 — Review of Nagl’s How to Eat Soup with a Knife
  8. A look back at the madness that led us into our wars. How does this advice read 6 years later?, 26 June 2012
The history of foreign armies fighting local insurgents:
  1. How often do insurgents win?  How much time does successful COIN require?, 29 May 2008
  2. Max Boot: history suggests we will win in Afghanistan, with better than 50-50 odds. Here’s the real story., 21 June 2010 — Boot discusses 7 alleged victories by foreign armies fighting insurgencies.
  3. A major discovery! It could change the course of US geopolitical strategy, if we’d only see it, 28 June 2010 — Andrew Exum (aka Abu Muqawama) points us to the doctoral dissertation of Erin Marie Simpson in Political Science from Harvard.  She examines the present and past analysis of  counter-insurgency.  This could change the course of American foreign policy, if we pay attention.
  4. A look at the history of victories over insurgents, 30 June 2010
  5. COINistas point to Kenya as a COIN success. In fact it was an expensive bloody failure., 7 August 2012