Monday, October 02, 2023
View Blog
May 28

Written by: Diana West
Friday, May 28, 2010 1:23 AM 

Finally, some high-ranking, active-duty, public pushback against the Petraeus-McChrystal-Mullen-Gates-Kilcullen-Bush-Obama world of COIN. From Defense News:

The U.S. military's counterinsurgency tactics increasingly place too much emphasis on protecting local peoples and not enough on fighting enemy forces, said U.S. Special Operations Command chief Adm. Eric Olson.

While the U.S. military has adopted a population-focused strategy in Afghanistan, Olson said May 26 he "fears counterinsurgency has become a euphemism for nonkinetic activities."

The term is now to often used to describe efforts aimed at "protecting populations," Olson said during a conference in Arlington, Va.

The military's top special operator, in a shot across the bow of modern-day counterinsurgency doctrine proponents, then added: "Counterinsurgency should involve countering the insurgents."

Olson also made clear he thinks U.S. laws give him the authority to craft and implement doctrine for America's special operators.

Olson said doctrine is important for fighting wars, and "should be carefully written - but we should not fall in love with it."

In a blunt statement, Olson called "COIN doctrine an oxymoron."

That's because "almost none" of what the doctrine contains is "actually applied" during military operations, he said.

Olson pointed to parts of the current counterinsurgency doctrine that is based on U.S. military efforts in certain provinces of Iraq. Those tactics rarely apply anywhere in Afghanistan, he said.

"It is an imperfect template from which we must deviate," Olson said to a silent room.

Understatement of the year, but notice even that produced a "silent room." Bet the audience would have lapsed into a coma if they had heard Ralph Peters' comment to me. He said Petraeus' COIN playbook "is a snake that needs to be killed dead." But at least Olson is moving in the right direction.   

His comments came 24 hours after Garry Reid, deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combat terrorism told the conference that Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants the entire military to adopt counterinsurgency standards "in line" with those applied in Afghanistan by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces there. ...

Olson told Defense News the secretary's guidance must be implemented in a way that incorporates "a SOF flavor."

"There is a special operations flavor of COIN that is up to us to adjust to within the context of Gen. McChrystal and the secretary of defense's guidance," he said.

It is the very premise of COIN that is poisonous: namely, the premise that the loyalty of primitive Muslim tribes is there to be won by a postmodern infidel army through PC make-them-like-us efforts such as drinking tea, sitting on the floor, sending admirals to slaughter sheep, being there "for the people," sacrificing men for theory (including theory that COIN success depends on zero civilian casualties), and, of course, spreading plenty of payola around. Isn't working. Doesn't work. Never has.  

Olson also made clear whom he feels should write doctrine for the military's specops forces.

"Frankly," he said, "it is a legislative requirement for the commander of Special Operations Command to craft doctrine for special operations forces."

The previous day, Reid told Defense News the Pentagon's top policy directorate will draw up a "framework" for implementation of Gates' COIN guidance. But it will be up to the services, the Joint Staff, and all other military components "to fill those out - as they would with anything else."

Go Olson.

Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use
Copyright 2012 by Diana West