Friday, April 27, 2007

Counterinsurgency in the American Military

So fine the line between bravery and domestic counterinsurgency when one ventures an opinion on the American military's conduct in Iraq. Especially if you accuse your boss generals of 'intellectual and moral failures.' Yet, a young and snappy Lt. Col. Paul "Beergoggles" Yingling roars to the world about 'a failure in generalship' in the American Forces Journal. "Beergoggles" fails to be uncivilized enough to name names, so the gossip's pretty mild, and well-warmed over by several New-York Times Bestsellers. Yingling snarks at these "tell-all books" where generals speak of private concerns they failed to speak of publically before the invasion. The author of one of the said tell-alls, Thomas Ricks of 'Fiasco', wrote the glowing WaPost coverage of Yingling's expose. The main of the Lt. Col.'s beef begins:

"For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.

These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress."

Does it surprise you to learn that Yingling graduated from the University of Chicago with a Master of Arts in Political Science?

....After failing to visualize the conditions of combat in Iraq, America's generals failed to adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency. Counterinsurgency theory prescribes providing continuous security to the population. However, for most of the war American forces in Iraq have been concentrated on large forward-operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents. Counterinsurgency theory requires strengthening the capability of host-nation institutions to provide security and other essential services to the population. America's generals treated efforts to create transition teams to develop local security forces and provincial reconstruction teams to improve essential services as afterthoughts, never providing the quantity or quality of personnel necessary for success....

"....The need for intelligent, creative and courageous general officers is self-evident. An understanding of the larger aspects of war is essential to great generalship. However, a survey of Army three- and four-star generals shows that only 25 percent hold advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities. Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army's senior generals speaks another language. While the physical courage of America's generals is not in doubt, there is less certainty regarding their moral courage. In almost surreal language, professional military men blame their recent lack of candor on the intimidating management style of their civilian masters. Now that the public is immediately concerned with the crisis in Iraq, some of our generals are finding their voices. They may have waited too long."

Yingling plugs "Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife" by one John Nagl and On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War," by Col. Harry Summers. In November of 2006, Yingling cowrote with Nagl an essay New Rules for New Enemies in... Armed Forces Journal. Within they argue:

"To win the Long War, the Army must develop a more adaptive organizational culture. To create such a culture, the Army must change its focus from a centralized, specialized focus on major conventional wars to a more decentralized and less specialized focus on full-spectrum operations. This shift in organizational culture cannot occur within existing organizations — indeed these organizations can be an impediment to change. The best way to change the organizational culture of the Army is to change the pathways for professional advancement within the officer corps. The Army will become more adaptive only when being adaptive offers the surest path to promotion."

Moonbat thinks Beergoggles wants a promotion, eh? John Nagl was on the writing team that produced the Army's new Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Who also wrote that? Petraeus!! Who got a Teddy Award from Time Magazine last December for his leadership in encouraging institutional change in the Army towards effective counterinsurgency tactics at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Guess who also spent that year assigned to Fort Leavenworth? "Beergoggles!!" Who in turn got interviewed by the Combat Studies Institute, a military think tank run by Petraeus' CAC. {The CSI gets described as an 'academic department' of the CAC by this private contractor, who creates "virtual staff tours" to help train officers about Iraq, but I digress.} Oh, Yingling's 2006 interview:

"The thing the Army institutionally is still struggling to learn is that the most important thing we do in counterinsurgency is building host nation institutions-building security forces, building local government capacity- and yet all our organizations are designed around thelear important line of operations: combat operations. There is a real danger in over-determination based on the organization's design. There's the old saying, "If you give a man a hammer, he sees every problem as a nail." Similarly, if you give a unit tanks and Bradleys, they see every promblem as a movement to contact. That's an oversimplification, but it is a problem. I've now had two combat tours where I was involved in developing ISF and I've been to every Army school you can go to as an officer, and no one has ever talked to me about that challenge. No one has ever given me classes on how to do that...

....The institutional Army.. has not caught up in either professional education or organizational design with the challenges of counterinsurgency. So as I go into battalion command, I'm going to focus my troops on those tasks and give them the mental models that will allow them to anticipate those problems and solve them. (That he has just learned from... Petraeus. You guessed it!) Eventually the institutional Army will catch up and they'll get that stuff into schools and there will be MTOE positions for security force development and civil-military operations; but until that day I think individual commanders will have to solve that problem on their own, because when we get into theater we certainly have to solve it...

...I do think that having organic to our institutions the ability to develop intelligence- to collect on our friends, if you will; to be able to find our friends- is extremely important. Because once you find your friends, finding the enemy is very easy. In a city of 200,000, there are people who know who's complicit with the insurgency. So I guess if I had to condense this into a pithy little bullet it would be: don't train on finding the enemy; train on finding your friends and they will help you find your enemy."

WaPost's Thomas Ricks, author of Fiasco and Yingling's shining write-up for his expose, interveiwed Yingling on this very subject, later in November of 2006, Flaws Cited in Efforts to Train Iraqi Forces: where Yingling again gets a chance to showcase how much he has learned at Fort Leavenworth.

"Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, a staff officer with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 who worked with Iraqi units, came away thinking that the Army fundamentally is not geared to the task of helping the advisory effort.

"The thing the Army institutionally is still struggling to learn is that the most important thing we do in counterinsurgency is building host-nation institutions," he told the interviewers, "yet all our organizations are designed around the least important line of operations: combat operations."

Yingling came to a broader conclusion. He recommended an entirely different orientation in Iraq, both for trainers and for regular U.S. units. "Don't train on finding the enemy," he said. "Train on finding your friends, and they will help you find your enemy. . . . Once you find your friends, finding the enemy is easy."

SmallWarsJournal blogged to promote Yingling's expose, stating that "In this morning’s Washington Post Tom Ricks reports on an Armed Forces Journal article that should be required reading for anyone who cares about our nation’s capability to successfully prosecute the LONG WAR." Their About page states that Small Wars Journal is a private site. It is run by Small Wars Journal, LLC, a private company formed in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its principals are Dave Dilegge (Editor-in-Chief) and Bill Nagle (Publisher). SWJ in turn gets listed as an item of particular interest on the official Marine website, Small Wars Center of Excellence. But that probably has nothing to do with Petraeus helping the Marines with their own version of a counterinsurgency manual. Surprising the flack Yingling's getting from con-bloggers of all stripes, eh?

Yingling popped up in The Wall Street Journal's December 2006 article Despite $168B Budget, Army Still Faces Cash Crunch:

"At Fort Hood, the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, which returned from Iraq in March and will go back in fall 2007, is already worried about time to prepare. The regiment will spend most of the winter receiving new soldiers, fielding new equipment and learning to use it. The regiment left most of its tanks and Humvees in Iraq for follow-on units.

That means troops won't have much time to train for other critical tasks. Junior leaders need to know everything from how to assess a water plant to the tribal politics of the area where they are deploying, says Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, the unit's deputy commander. They must know enough Arabic to interact with locals.

"It is incredibly frustrating for combat veterans to return to Iraq for the third time with only minimal training on the skills we know are essential, like language, culture, intelligence and local security force development" Col. Yingling says. "Army units don't fail to train on these tasks because we're stupid or lazy; we fail because we don't have the time to do it right"."

An article in which we hear something familiar:

"Junior officers know that success in these wars is about a lot more than killing the enemy. It depends on providing security for the people, finding friends and fixing infrastructure," says Maj. John Prior, who served as a company commander in Baghdad. "A lot of senior officers just don't get it."

And again Yingling (as in Rick's Nov. 2006) gets tapped for the last say:

Some question how quickly the Army will be able to shift its thinking. "All our organizations are designed around the least important line of operations in these fights -- combat operations," says Col. Yingling. "If you spend your whole career in tanks, you tend to see the solution to every problem as a tank."

Yingling cut his teeth on counterinsurgency PR way back in 2004, in an official Army article called Training the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. Here with Julian Urquidez, Yingling presents an 8-step training program for Iraqis, which they developed and implemented in Iraq. {I digress again: Julian Urquidez ran the 'Honolulu Marathon in Iraq' this year in 4:05:16. Useless trivia, hooray!} Yingling's been working on his counterinsurgency credentials for far too long not to be getting any credit. What do I mean?

Paul Yingling's Wikipedia entry currently stands in stunning dissarray, containing factual errors and conservative bias as regards Yingling's supposed political opinions on continued U.S. involvement in Iraq: assumed as against. In Paul Yingling's "Also See" section, a link exists to Ehren Watada, who is "also against the Iraq War" and to Ann Wright, who is incorrectly described as having resigned from the U.S. Army in protest of the invasion of Iraq. No external links exist to any military writings of Yingling's other than his current expose. The Masters in Political Science mentioned; not mentioned would be his education at the Command and General Staff College and the School of Advanced Military Studies... at the same time as General Petraeus resided there, expounding about the neccessity of counterinsurgency training and institutional change in the Army. Not mentioned also: Tal Afar. Yingling gets quoted in March 2007 for his part in the successful elimination of the insurgency in Tal Afar, just before he publishes his expose. Someone passed his number on to the reporter. President Bush praised Yingling for his conduct in Tal Afar. Of course, who listens to Bush. Heh.

Now moonbat ponders the worth of Yingling's counterinsurgency operations. Hook himself to Petraeus' rising star and if Petraeus shines in Iraq and continues up that ladder of promotions, so will "Beergoggles." Inch too far out, and those boss generals who Petraeus stands to dethrone use you for target practice. Work this spin wrong, and have your name tarnished too much for future quotations for journalists. Will this growing domestic counterinsurgency succeed or will the old Army regime remain dominant over it's military institutions. Bush promises by the Fall we will know which side shall fall.

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Anonymous CaptainG said...

What exactly is your point?

Just say it plainly, don't be afraid of being direct.

7:28:00 AM  
Blogger olive said...

"monkey's paw."

7:53:00 PM  
Blogger olive said...

ETA: This is captaing's blog.

Okay, some being plain, since comments are dissallowed on captainchicken's blog.

If I picked for a mascot David Koresh and argued to defend his right to marry little girls from the government, I'd hide from public opinion also.


10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous CaptainG said...

Well, what can i say?

I asked you a simple question to begin an argument because your position on the subject was somehow unclear me and you are trying to insult me?

captainchicken? pervert?


I post on that blog but i don't own it. Thanks for letting me know that moderation settings are all screwed up.

About Koresh: i don't think marrying young girls was the subject matter of the ATF warrant that was being served.

And a lot of the little girls and boys died in that fire there. That is more terrifying to me then some Gypsy customs (ugly, but they do marry young).

8:42:00 AM  
Blogger olive said...

"The Return of CaptainChicken!!"

You sure have high hopes for a blog that describes itself as a "lurid tell-all."

Koresh: "Gypsy customs." And here I thought you were talking out of your fanny on pure ideological grounds. Wonderful.

: incorrect Jeopardy buzzer sound :

I may have to blog about this now. mmmm.... meanwhile, you condone what you defend.

Welcome to Omelas.

2:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your poetic responses are too intelectually advanced for a simpleton like I to comprehend

don't marry young

6:32:00 AM  

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