Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Replacing a long war with small wars

Guambat was advised that Wallace C. Gregson is to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.

Since Guambat tends to burrow in Asia Pacific, he was curious as to what this man might bring to the job. Guambat's own security if not his affairs might hang in the balance.

Guambat googled around and found that Mr. Gregson gave a lecture back in 2005 entitled, The Marine Corps Planning Process Applied to Business Planning. The brochure for the program gave Mr. Gregson's cv:
Lieutenant General Wallace Gregson, Jr. USMC currently serves as the Commander, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific; Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific; and Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Bases, Pacific, headquartered at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii. General Gregson’s command encompasses over 90,000 Marines and sailors deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at seven major bases worldwide. General Gregson is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. After Basic School, he served with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division in the Republic of ietnam from February 1969 to August 1970. Operational assignments included infantry battalion executive officer, division staff duty, headquarters battalion executive officer, operations officer (G-3) of I Marine Expeditionary Force, and assistant operations officer (J-3A) of Unified Task Force Somalia during Operation Restore Hope. He has commanded an infantry company; Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division; 1st Battalion, 5th Marines; 7th Marine Regiment; and 3rd Marine Division. He most recently served as the Commanding General, III Marine xpeditionary Force, and Commander, Marine Corps Bases, Japan and Commander, Marine Forces, Japan. His awards include the Legion of Merit (3rd award), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V", the Purple Heart, and the "Order of the rising sun - gold and silver star" issued by the Emperor of Japan.

Guambat wanted to go straight home and go to sleep. He will be sleeping soundly.

But he needed something to read before he fell asleep, so looked and came across this piece from said General Gregson: Ideological Support: Attacking the Critical Linkage.

Since Guambat has long believed that terrorism is also spread by word of mouth, and many of those mouths tend to be in the corridors of nations' capitals, Guambat was hooked on the opening paragraph:
This global war on terror has a popular label, a political label, but it is not accurate. Terrorism is a means of power projection, a weapon, a tool of war. This is no more a war on terrorism than World War II was a war on submarines. This is not merely semantics. Words have meaning, and these words are leading us to the wrong concept.
Some excerpts, but you should read the whole short paper:
The “war on terrorism” label also sets a very high standard for success, and an infinite duration. [Rumsfeld's "Long War"] Any successful terrorist attack means that we failed. The odds are pretty high against 100 percent success for the indefinite future.

Terrorism is only one of the tools the insurgents are using, just as submarines and airplanes were tools of World War II. United States (U.S.) strategists attempting to defeat the terrorist threat to the U.S. must first understand its nature.

This war started well before we noticed it. Through the last 21 years of the twentieth century, the United States was attacked repeatedly and failed to react, or at least react effectively. I am speaking of the Iranian hostage crisis, the Beirut Marine Barracks attack, repeated aircraft hijackings, the destruction of U.S. embassies in east Africa, and the World Trade Center attack in 1993, an effort that was partially successful.

The current threat is an insurgency, a popular movement that seeks to change the status quo through violence, subversion, propaganda, terrorism or other military action. But it is different from the nationalist insurgencies the United States has fought in the past. This one is global, and thoroughly networked, as a result of modern technology. It is ideologically driven, fundamentalist and extremist. The key insurgent leaders are Muslim, but they do not speak for Islam. They hreaten to hijack Islam for their purposes.

All insurgencies have local or national aims and grievances. But a new class of regional and global actors has emerged and linked these movements in a global network. It’s a network of ideology, financiers, document forgers, transportation experts, propagandists, family relationships, cultural groups, operations experts, logisticians, and others. It does include Al-Qa’eda, Jemaah Islamiah, and other affiliated “theater” movements. Their jihad is a confederation of movements exploited and linked by regional and global fundamentalist extremist insurgents. They “think globally and act locally.”

So who are these insurgents? The leadership comes from alienated, educated, moneyed elites, but their foot soldiers are drawn from the most troubled areas of the world. How do the dedicated leaders of this global insurgency generate recruits and resources? They have been preparing the battlefield for years.

They have been operating in troubled areas of the world where the writ of liberal, representative government, or even effective autocratic or authoritative government, does not function. In failed or failing states, or failed parts of states, they have been the providers of education, medical care, and jobs.

Through their education efforts, and their care for the population, they have been able to psychologically condition the people. By providing what local governments have not, these insurgents have gained legitimacy, psychologically conditioned these populations, and created an area from which they can safely operate.

The last time we fought so many people willing to die for their beliefs, who were thoroughly indoctrinated, it was called the Great Pacific War. Remember how tough that was. The habits of western military thought that value defeat over destruction, artful maneuver over slaughter, have a difficult time with an enemy that actively seeks death if it means killing us.

How does the United States fight this network of global insurgency? How do we ensure that our success in the field is matched at the strategic level? We can begin by realizing some hard facts, and making a cleareyed examination of our past successes and failures with insurgencies, and rigorously understanding what remains the same, and what has changed.

One fact is that insurgencies have existed in many parts of the world for a long
time. Indeed, many insurgencies that are now linked in some fashion to Al Qa’eda or Jemaah Islamiah existed long before, due to valid, long-standing grievances. The various separatist movements in the southern Philippines are an example as are the Chechen and Uighur separatist movements.

The linkages and mutual support among insurgencies from Algeria, to the Middle East, to Iraq, Afghanistan and Central Asia, and into Southeast Asia, are new. Ending all insurgencies is not a practical goal, however, a focused effort that addresses the underpinnings of terrorism can significantly reduce the threat. The requirements for a successful counter-insurgency, tightly integrated plans and actions across the wide range of governmental and societal functions, remains the same.

The center of gravity, the decisive terrain of this war, is the vast majority of people not directly involved, but whose support, willing or coerced, is necessary to insurgent operations around the world.

Complexity theory argues that the dangerous aspect of this global insurgency is its enabling linkages.4 If so, complexity theory offers a path to a new line of strategy and attack. Attacking the linkages offers a way to gain support from many nations and international organizations that are reluctant to join our current campaign. Under this model, it is not necessary to kill every insurgent and separatist from Algeria to Papua New Guinea to the Philippines to Chechnya to Central Asia and western China.

We cannot hope to defeat all the local insurgencies, but we must break the links that allow them to network. We must make local insurgencies a local issue again.

We need to provide people with a better vision, with better hopes and chances than the insurgents do. We need to give people a way to earn a living so they are not vulnerable to ideologists. Winning the hearts and minds of local populations is far more important than killing or capturing people.

We must develop ways to track the movement of financial instruments, people, and materiel in a way that breaks the links, yet provides an appropriate degree of privacy and national sovereignty. All the links should be analyzed and interdicted
in similar ways.

Our military heritage prizes overwhelming force over subtlety, Jomini over Sun Tzu. We feel that operations, strategy, logistics and technology are war’s dimensions. Our military history since the Civil War and our concentration on global conventional war shape our attitudes. We must continue and even accelerate our adaptation to the tactics of these fundamentalist extremist insurgents.

We must also look at the experience of our friends and partner nations. In recent years, Australia completed one very successful counterinsurgency in the Solomon Islands, and is now embarked on a similar, but different, effort in Papua New Guinea. Their use of a federalized police force alone is worth serious national study.

Threats to the United States will be unpredictable and situation-dependent. There is no precise model to optimize force structure, so our forces will have to be multi-mission, mobile, flexible and capable of precise and discriminate use of military force. We must place a premium on the training and maturity of the young men and women who wear our nation’s military uniform.

A permanent, large U.S. armed forces presence in these troubled areas is obsolete.

Third party nationals based ashore, particularly wealthy Americans, provide a convenient target, both physically and as symbols for enemy strategic communication. More importantly, the American forces based ashore invariably have an adverse cultural impact that is self defeating. Our presence skews the local economy and provides flashpoints for violence. The local government, its forces and
economy lose viability and credibility. The natural resentment of the local population defeats us. Joint sea-basing, national capability afloat combined with expeditionary presence ashore, is one way to effective influence and worldwide mobility, without extensive infrastructure.

The local, duly constituted government must do more for the people than the opposition or the United States. The minute the U.S. takes the lead, it begins to lose. Through flexible sea-basing and tailoring of our forces, we can enhance the local government’s successes and at the same time avoid making ourselves attractive, vulnerable targets. Further, we can instantaneously control our level of intervention based on the local government’s degree of acceptable behavior. By doing so, we help the local government fight its own corrupted elements and set the stage for defeat of the insurgency.

The end aim is the social, economic and political development of people subsequent to the defeat of the enemy insurgent. Ultimately, the goal is to gain decisive results with the least application of force and the consequent minimum loss of life.

In these “small wars,” respect, tolerance, sympathy and kindness should be the keynotes of our relationship with the mass of the population. We must provide military force, not as a broadsword, but as a scalpel. The solution lies in redefining the problem and our reaction to it.

Guambat will keep an eye on this General.

He may be politically naive, but Guambat thinks, by what he has written, the General's head is screwed on right.


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