US Military Split on Insurgency Strategy

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Virgil, May 13, 2006.

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  1. It looks like the boys on the ground disagree with the suits at CENTCOM.

    Excerpt from Article:

    U.S. Military Is Split on Insurgency Strategy
    The divergence is over how best to use troops: spread out at small camps among residents or concentrated at big bases away from cities.
    By Solomon Moore and Peter Spiegel, Times Staff Writers
    May 13, 2006

    HADITHA, Iraq — In the region around Qaim, a northwestern Iraqi town near the Syrian border, Marines are fanning out from their main base and moving into villages as part of a new strategy to root out insurgents who enter the country here.

    The troops have set up 19 small base camps throughout the area and begun routinely patrolling insurgent hot spots north of the Euphrates River. The deployment follows a strategy favored by a new generation of counterinsurgency experts: disperse, mingle with the population and stay put.

    But the shift comes as the Pentagon appears to be moving the overall U.S. military effort in the opposite direction across much of the country. Army units are being concentrated in "super bases" that line the spine of central Iraq, away from the urban centers where counterinsurgency operations take place.

    The two approaches underscore an increasingly high-profile divergence — some say contradiction — on how best to use U.S. forces in Iraq, and are evidence of a growing debate in the upper ranks about the wisest course of action.
  2. Are the to strategies mututally exclusive?

    If not I see no reason why they can't use both - big bases but also some of the smaller scale stuff. You don't have to just go with one idea and run with it. If they are mutually exclusive then why? I'm sure the US could try both, see which works in which cases and adapt accordingly. Or am I being too nice about the intelligence of the american strategists?
  3. It depends on the main objective.

    If it is a liquidation of the insurgency then both method are unworkable.

    If it is a minimisation of losses with strategic control of the country then big bases would be a right choice.

    If the objective is to control as much terriroty as possible then a net of relatively small bases should be established.

    If the goal is to pump as much money as possible from Iraqi black hole then both method would be OK.
  4. I always tend to throw my support to commanders and soldiers on the ground in the action over the opinions of those in high command positions (CENTCOM). If those on the ground believe this is the best chance to 'liquidate' the insurgents then I give their opinions much more credence. But perhaps 'liqudate' is too strong a word, 'negate' or 'supress' might be a better choice. It should have been done long ago.

    I think you'll find that to the military planners and troops on the ground the oil question isn't in the forefront of their thinking.
  5. No harm at all in trying a new approach. And why not try two different ones to see which pans out better. Although they should be careful of direct comparisons. The threats facing the USMC out west are entirely different to those faced by the USArmy in, say, Baghdad. No surprise that the USMC is leading on the more 'small corral' approach, with the Army trying the 'big tent' method. Good luck.

    Still, it's a shame that there is still this fascination with the body count. Cold war mentality 'attrition warfare' failed in Vietnam and is bound to fail in Iraq. To win this, you've got to stop people from taking up arms - rather than just trying to kill them after they've made their choice.
  6. Virgil!

    'Negate' or 'supress' insurgents... This objective is very unclear. One can say that they has been supressed and negated long ago.

    The title of this thread is US Military Split on Insurgency Strategy. Really it is rather a tactical problem. The main, really strategic question what is the goal of USA in Iraq? still has not been answered.
  7. That's simple Sergey. It's the same answer as it is for the UK - to get out with your shirt still on your back.
  8. I think that's the problem. The tactical approach favored by those on the ground to deal with insurgents contradicts the more strategic approach favored by the commanders outside Iraq. And you're right it should have--and could have--been done long ago.

    I think the journalist may not have a good grasp of military terms. It is a tactical problem which influences the implimentation of the strategic goals--at this point it seems to boil down to the establishment of a stable Iraqi government to control and run the country.
  9. Id agree the journalist doesnt have a grasp on terms.

    The US military is not split on insurgents strategy, it is split on counter insurgency strategy.

    The former would suggest they were trying to ascertain enemy motivations and intent the latter that they sought a response to the enemy.
  10. The point is that the small bases tactic was made to adapt to the situation on the ground accordingly. However, the beauracrats like their fancy "super bases". Sometimes big bases work, but I think the marines have the right idea by getting out there to get a better view of the situation.
  11. Part of the reason for the large bases, I think, is to reduce the overhead. You have less need for people whose sole job is the operation of a base, security of the base, driving the base bus routes, and so on. This means that you release more people for going outside the wire to actually be productive, or alternatively, you can draw down the troop numbers for political benefit.

  12. The smaller bases look like a classic tache d'huile COIN campaign to me, optimistic people like McMasters are still actually trying to beat the insurgency.

    The Yanks clearly expect the new Iraqi army to feed the meat grinder in future. As it has almost no air cover, air lift or even logistical capacity the big bases have an obvious supporting role. Concentrating your forces in big bases with airstrips like Camp Anaconda might also be a better idea if you are contemplating riding out a hot civil/regional war with force protection as a priorty.
  13. Vigil!

    The easiest way to reach this goal is negotiations with the insurgents. As a real military force they have a natural right for power. Moqtada Sadr, despite his openly violent actions agains coalition forces was allowed to be a part of political establishment.
  14. Well that depends. There are insurgents, and then there are murdering thugs who target mosques, aidworkers, market places, and school teachers. There are some that can be negotiated with, others need to be simply "dealt with".