There is a remarkable 307 page document, Tactics in Counterinsurgency, March 2009, Headquarters, Department of [US] Army Field Manual Interim (FM3-24.2), that is available on the Internet [pdf -- 6.6 MB, other download sites here]. Although the document is labelled “approved for public release, distribution is unlimited”, it is said to have been removed from the US Army’s website within a few weeks of its release, possibly because it was felt to be underclassified or politically embarrassing.
At least one commentator feels however that there may be more here than meets the eye: “the document has multiple agendas above and beyond the one stated on the cover. That is, it is, in part, a political propaganda document.”
In any event, the Manual, reportedly authored by US Gen. David Petraeus, is said to be the “Afghanistan Edition” — which contains his blueprint of Do’s and Don’ts based on his experience in Iraq. “Petraeus, who wrote his dissertation at Princeton on the military lessons of the Vietnam War, distinguished himself in Mosul with his hearts-and-minds approach” [source]. Gen. Petraeus was an early advocate of expanding the Afghanistan war to Pakistan, and to involve other regional powers; and his statement that “Afghanistan would be the longest campaign in the so-called ‘long war’” has been much quoted since 2005.
The Manual is a must read not only for military personnel (to whom it is probably well known) but also to concerned civilians, especially Muslims, who may be unaware of the contours of the new US military (and, for that matter, civil strategic) mind. The document provides operational, analytical, and moral guidance to the US soldier in the “Af-Pak” theatre; even though at times, it reads like the nursery rhyme that Lee Marvin taught his mentally challenged “Dirty Dozen” in the Hollywood movie of the same name.
Although the Summaries at the end of each chapter cannot be a substitute of a reading of the document, they are reproduced below to convey a little bit of the flavour of the document [text in square brackets has been added, where necessary, for clarification; also emphasis to the main text, and graphics have been added to this post].
Chapter 1 Operational Environment of Counterinsurgency Counterinsurgency [COIN] can be extremely complex. At its core, COIN is a struggle for the population’s support. Understanding that struggle or becoming “the world expert on your district” (28 Articles [Appendix C, below], Kilcullen [Australian Lt. Colonel, author of The Accidental Guerrilla]) is the foundation for any unit. A unit that uses the four tools described in this chapter dramatically increases its likelihood of success against an insurgency. These four tools are—
- Studies carefully its operational environment (OE) using the operational variables of PMESII-PT (political, military, economic, social, information, infrastructure – physical environment, and time).
- Defines its situation using METT-TC [mission, enemy, terrain & weather, troops & support available - time available, and civilian considerations].
- Determines the root causes of the insurgency and analyzes the three prerequisites [for an insurgency to succeed: a vulnerable population, an available leadership, and lack ofgovernment control].
- Develops cultural capability to increase their ability to understand and interact with the population.
Chapter 2 Foundations of Insurgency The central struggle of the majority of insurgencies is to gain and maintain the support of the population. However, the five elements of each insurgency [leaders, guerrillas, auxilaries, underground, and mass base], the eight dynamics [its leadership, ideology, objectives, environment & geography, external support, internal support, phasing & timing, organisational & operational patterns], the strategy [one or more of six: urban, military focussed, protracted popular war, conspiratorial, identity, and composite & coalition], the tactics [violent—terrorism, guerrilla tactics, conventional tactics and criminal activity, or non-violent—subversion, and propaganda], and the specific strengths and vulnerabilities are each unique to an individual insurgent group. For the tactical leader, from the platoon to the brigade, it is imperative that they first identify and understand the insurgent group or groups that they are fighting, before determining potential insurgent COAs [courses of action] and friendly COAs.
Chapter 3 The foundations of Counterinsurgency The foundations of COIN are the guiding principles for any unit conducting counterinsurgency operations. Once understood and applied they enable commanders to craft a coherent plan that achieves unity of effort amongst all organizations in the area of operations.
Chapter 4 Comprehensive Tactical Planning in COIN Planning in COIN uses tactical design, either MDMP [military decision-making process] or TLP [troop-leading procedures], and targeting to ensure units achieve their end state over time. Throughout the COIN planning process, tactical units employ the seven COIN lines of effort [LOEs: establish civil security, establish civil control, support Host Nation security forces, restore essential services, support to economic and infrastructure development, support to governance, and conduct information engagement (including psychological operations, or propaganda] to ensure that they achieve unity of effort, prioritization in accomplishing tasks, control of the population, and an increase in the Host Nation government’s legitimacy.
Chapter 5 Offensive Considerations in COIN Offensive operations are a critical part of counterinsurgency campaigns and help Host Nations establish civil security and civil control. Key operations include search and attacks, cordon and searches, searches, raids, ambushes, and COIN patrols, especially in the “clear” phase of a clear-hold-build operation. Offensive operations can support other LOEs [lines of effort] such as support Host Nation security forces and restore essential services. Commanders conduct offensive operations in COIN with constant considerations of the population in support of the seven COIN LOEs.
Chapter 6 Defensive Considerations in COIN General Clutterbuck in the Malayan emergency said, “(A Village police post)… was the only thing that could provide security against the threat that really mattered in the villages—the man with the knife, who lived in the village and prowled the streets at night seeking out those people who had actively supported the government or betrayed the guerrillas during the day.” This chapter identified defensive operations as they apply specifically to establishing civil security and civil control, and the other LOEs. Defensive operations in COIN must secure the population, Host Nation security forces and government, and US forces from the actions of insurgents.
Chapter 7 Stability Operations Considerations in COIN The seven counterinsurgency lines of effort (LOEs), establish civil security, establish civil control, support Host Nation security forces, support to governance, restore essential services, and support to economic and infrastructure development are critical to the success of any stability consideration during a counterinsurgency operation. Ultimate success in any counterinsurgency operation requires a combination of military and nonmilitary efforts. As President Bush stated in 2007 in reference to operations in Iraq:
“A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities.”
Stability operations during a counterinsurgency seek to bring about those community improvements and create a safe, secure, and productive environment for the populace.
Chapter 8 Support to Host Nation Security Forces A successful COIN effort establishes HN [host nation] institutions that can sustain government legitimacy. Developing effective HN security forces—including military, police, and paramilitary forces—is one of the highest priority COIN tasks. Soldiers and Marines can make vital contributions to this mission by training and advising the HN security forces. Effective tactical commanders must understand the importance of this mission and select the right personnel as trainers and advisors. Using the MORTEAM [Measure (i.e. assess HN security forces), Organize, Rebuild/build facilities, Train, Equip, Advise, Mentor] framework may enable tactical leaders to successfully train, mentor and conduct operations with Host Nation security force.
Apendix A IPB [Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield] in COIN
Appendix B Readings for COIN Tactical Leaders in a Time-Constrained Environment
Appendix C Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company Level COIN
Appendix D Twenty-Seven Articles of T.E. Lawrence [of Arabia]
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