The British post-1945 COIN scorecard

By Thomas E. Ricks on FP
I've been reading an examination by British Col. I.A. Rigden of the British record in counterinsurgency campaigns. Here's the post-1945 scorecard, by his accounting:

* Wins: 7
Losses: 5
Ties: 1
Incompletes: 2 (Iraq and Afghanistan)

Well, it's a tough league.

Rigden has an interesting bio -- he commanded a Gurkha battalion in Afghanistan, and spent seven years in company command. That's more troop time than most U.S. Army officers probably get in 20-year careers. Anyone out there who knows how the British Army works that very different approach to officer management?
Interesting paper, especially the myths section.

I liked the lessons of Empire section:
The fourth lesson emerging from the imperial experience was the requirement to succeed with minimal resources. The Empire expected military success at low cost which is no different to the dilemma that the British Armed forces confront today...
And this is an interesting point following on from that:
The thirteenth premise is that campaigns must be appropriately resourced to be
truly effective. Like all conflicts where fighting is likely, counter-insurgency campaigns
are expensive in term of “blood and treasure.” It is, however, the “treasure” element of
this equation that is often the most lacking in counter-insurgency campaigns. Such
campaigns are often the most expensive to conduct and they generally take longer than
conventional warfighting campaigns to conclude. There is, however, a balance to be
struck between resources and ingenuity. Too many physical resources can be
problematic and worsen the situation by limiting innovation and confusing peripheral
material matters with the real issues of minds and hearts. Counter-insurgency is
manpower intensive over a potentially long period of time and this needs to be
considered during the early analysis of the problem.53 However, the real resources
issue is nearly always a lack of funds for the non-military support to the campaign which
is a critical factor in winning minds and hearts. The appropriate and realistic level of
resources must be envisioned and allocated before the counter-insurgency campaign
I just hope none of the tightfisted New Tories headed for the MOD bearing hatchets take that as meaning Snatch Landies and no body armor will encourage "Innovation".
Where exactly is the tie?
Hindsight is a wonderful gift,especially when lecturing to the spams,given that he was commanding a Gurkha Battalion in Afghanistan,I doubt this knob was even born,when Aden was at its height,another book basher,I think.
RoofRat said:
Hindsight is a wonderful gift,especially when lecturing to the spams,given that he was commanding a Gurkha Battalion in Afghanistan,I doubt this knob was even born,when Aden was at its height,another book basher,I think.
Utter shite. Military history can involve an element of hindsight, because it can be far from a merely academic exercise. Is it now compulsory to have been born before a campaign which you are writing about? Why are you against serving personnel writing about such subjects?
Dragstrip said:
There's a nice little piece here that essentially argues that COIN is all balls anyway and success in any military campaign is, funnily enough, all about the application of force in any case:
More and more, I suspect that it’s the brutality that works, not the COIN. It’s moving hundreds of thousands of people across a country, or shooting all the men in a village as a reprisal for terrorism, or taking hostages, or doing extra-judicial kidnappings. Of course, the brutality would work without the COIN, too. Brutality works. But that’s not who we are.

The “counterinsurgency” that seems to work in Afghanistan, in the short run, is bribing Pashtun villagers to stop their relatives from planting IEDs and suchlike. When you stop bribing them, they start planting IEDs again. It’s like when the Mafia charges you a “protection fee” or you get your store windows broken. This doesn’t qualify as a tactic, much less a strategy.

I don’t think there’s an example of a successful COIN campaign that was conducted in line with contemporary Western ethics. It’s a lovely theory, but it may be a waste of time, and of all those young men and women who get blown up by IEDs while getting out among the people.
Find me a war that conforms to "contemporary Western ethics" in our Western history or recent ones for feck sake? Bribery, intimidation and the odd distant high tech atrocity are all part of the package.

US COIN theory comes straight out of the French experience in Algeria, adorned with social network analysis and retinal scans but ending up with quadrillage with still the whiff of blowtorch lingering in the memory, and lately a rather liberal use of messily targeted assassinations by drone.

At Hama in 82 perhaps she has a point but she seems ignorant of how the 40th army fought and lost and how Chechnya generationally simmers on despite the encouraging pile of skulls?

I'll be charitable here: yer Dari speaking women from Harvard seems to have a rather narrow base of knowledge in the subject naively interpreted. It's like her sole knowledge of our current wars come from watching Fox and reading Pentagon briefings.

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