Help for a Masters dissertation - COIN tactics, conventional philosophy: Afghanistan 2001-2014.

Whilst I agree with the logic of your argument, I can't help but think that creating a UK taxonomy of conflict types would lead to hours of study and discussion at Shrivenham about definitions and templates; it would just be another excuse for over-intellectualising the simple............And no-one else would be interested; politicians, NGOs, journalists, the public would continue to define anything that involves soldiers engaging an enemy as "war".

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And, I suspect, 99% of soldiers as well.
 
Whilst I agree with the logic of your argument, I can't help but think that creating a UK taxonomy of conflict types would lead to hours of study and discussion at Shrivenham about definitions and templates; it would just be another excuse for over-intellectualising the simple............
Maybe you are correct: if you are, then we have a nation and an army as characterised by Gen William Francis Butler:

"The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards."

 
Whilst I agree with the logic of your argument, I can't help but think that creating a UK taxonomy of conflict types would lead to hours of study and discussion at Shrivenham about definitions and templates; it would just be another excuse for over-intellectualising the simple............And no-one else would be interested; politicians, NGOs, journalists, the public would continue to define anything that involves soldiers engaging an enemy as "war".

Personal view; every situation that may or may not require a military response is different and the military response needs to be tailored to need. A taxonomy is simply a crutch for the hard of thinking; if the situation its scenario A, we do Course of Action B, irrespective of whether it is right or wrong.......
Bit like the England rugby team, Plan B is to make Plan A work, not play heads-up and deal with what's in front of you.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Maybe you are correct: if you are, then we have a nation and an army as characterised by Gen William Francis Butler:

"The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards."

Oh come on. We're hardly drawing a line between the intellectual and military spheres by refusing to come up with some complex taxonomy of conflict that has no effect on the methods we will employ.
 
Oh come on. We're hardly drawing a line between the intellectual and military spheres by refusing to come up with some complex taxonomy of conflict that has no effect on the methods we will employ.
Or will be used by anyone except those who came up with such a taxonomy.

This entire debate is reminiscent of some of the more obscure academic debates I've seen.
 
some complex taxonomy of conflict that has no effect on the methods we will employ.
Hang on, isn't that part of the problem though?

If you can't describe or characterise what is in front of you how can you hope to get the next bits right, "the methods we will employ"

Seems pretty fundamental to me, understand the issues, deploy methods based on that understanding, test against reality, check and adjust

Doesn't have to be complex to have value
 
Hang on, isn't that part of the problem though?

If you can't describe or characterise what is in front of you how can you hope to get the next bits right, "the methods we will employ"

Seems pretty fundamental to me, understand the issues, deploy methods based on that understanding, test against reality, check and adjust

Doesn't have to be complex to have value
No, but a) when it's 2 groups of people, spending lots of effort trying to pin down, precisely, what you should call something sounds exactly like the excuse for procrastination PJHQ and sS HQs are awesome at, and b) this entire argument started by an insistence that only

War is indeed a Nation vs Nation activity, with utility for just 3 purposes - seizure of territory; imposition on an opponent of unfavourable peace terms, or; the total destruction of an opposing state. Defeat of the opposing state's main army in the field would be the method. It is tremendously difficult, hugely violent, but fundamentally simple.

In effect, any conflict that doesn't sit inside Carl's framework is not 'War'

So, lets call us describe and characterise to our hearts content - Q1 and Q2 in effect - but insisting that it is not a war (because it doesn't meet the above definition) is utter bollocks. It is semantics at its very worst. HERRICK was a War, it was also a COIN operation (in parts), a political solution, a series of tribal conflicts, an attempt to prove relevancy, a CT operation (in parts) and many other things. But it was, most definitely, a war as well.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Hang on, isn't that part of the problem though?

If you can't describe or characterise what is in front of you how can you hope to get the next bits right, "the methods we will employ"

Seems pretty fundamental to me, understand the issues, deploy methods based on that understanding, test against reality, check and adjust

Doesn't have to be complex to have value
Not really. Conflicts are so different that we can only apply the appropriate response to any given situation. I see no value in loosely categorising conflicts as we'll inevitably have those that cross categories so everything except state-on-state total war will end up being termed 'hybrid'. Any useful taxonomy would have to be both very complex the number of categories it covered and be understood to provide only the vaguest start point for analysing the appropriate response.

Our responses to Malaya, Suez, Lebanon, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and NI had much more to do with the political situation pertaining at the time than any precise notion of the type of conflict and our usual response to conflicts in that category. As Alfred says, categorising wars is an interesting academic exercise but provides little of real value.
 
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What does the font of all knowledge on earth say

War is a state of armed conflict between societies. It is generally characterized by extreme collective aggression, destruction, and usually high mortality. The set of techniques and actions used to conduct war is known as warfare. An absence of war is usually called "peace". Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant casualties.
Bugger, that was no help at all :)
 
Good enough, however, to satisfy the professional intellectual demands of most full-time military officers. . . . .
That would be because we're military (or naval) officers, not philosophers about War, nor professors in semiotics.
 
Quite. Some Officers aren't even graduates!
Dear lord, really? I bet they all speak German though, better to genuflect in front of the book of knowledge.
 
Agreed.

Actually I've been sent a lot of useful information and links to various academic articles which I have subsequently cited, including several gigabytes worth of stuff, courtesy of WRWalsh.

The debate has been interesting and I've found my core arguments conceptually supported. More manpower required, a better strategy and something of a change in the way we conceptualise war fighting for the purposes of doing COIN more effectively.

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk
 

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