An Epic Expression of Failed COIN Strategy; Fallujah falls to Al Qaida Factions

20140107_FallujahIraqmap620x350by JOHN BERNARD:

For the better part of five years, I have been decrying the unconscionable use of the historically failed strategy of Counter Insurgency (COIN) in the midst of an ideological monolithic culture; principally of Islam.

In the past few days and just two years after the final elements of US forces withdrew from Iraq, stories are emerging, bringing to completion the seemingly prophetic message I and others warned of two years ago; that Al Anbar has fallen back into Al Qaida hands with a self-neutered Iraq government seemingly powerless to stop it. I also made the case, then, that Al Anbar was not won by General Petraeus’ conjuring up the spirit of COIN specifically, but by the infusion of some 30,000 American uniforms into the region.

This process is more akin to the scientific theory of displacement than battlefield strategy. If you fill a region with men bearing one set of Colors, the unit marching under a different Banner, will be forced to displace – and they did. The effort to liberate Fallujah, twice, yielded a temporary reprieve for the non-combatants living there which now seems to have been reversed with Al Qaida and other like-minded cells and tribal components, retaking that city and Ramadi.

What is so damnably frustrating about this is that too many of us to list, foretold of this, years ago. And if there were any left in this country who still held onto the belief that either our civilian leadership or the left-listing General Grade Officers which populate the upper echelon of our Military structure were somehow visionaries and intellectuals, this latest manifestation of a failure of foresight should hopefully drive a spike through the heart of that lingering belief.

Not once – but twice, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers were asked to lay down their lives, “liberating” Al Anbar and most specifically, Fallujah; the second time being tightly restrained by the rigid ROE (Rules of Engagement) borne of the incomprehensibly idiotic paradigm of COIN! And now, two years later, that effort and all that blood, proves to have been for naught!

My argument against applying the rigid stricture of COIN – on any battlefield was multi-faceted and immutable. First, if the hope of armed conflict is to convince your enemy of the futility of continuing on his chosen path then historically it has failed to some degree or another, each and every time it has been employed.

Second, the principle reason for dragging it out of the dusty archives of failed ideas has been the desire to mitigate collateral damage among the “innocent” population. The Pentagon assigned that misnomer to the Iraqi and Afghan populations due to a very poorly managed assessment of the human terrain in both countries which concluded the general population was innocent and not party to the calamity that was their culture. This assumption was made possible due to a systemic ignorance of the dominating religion and its likely effect on the daily actions of the people or their potential sympathies with the “insurgency”.

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Lessons of Iraq and A-Stan: Infidel Armies Can’t Win Islamic Hearts and Minds

Karzai and Rohani in Tehran, December 8, 2013

Karzai and Rohani in Tehran, December 8, 2013

by Diana West:

I am reposting a couple of columns below from 2009, written at a time before the Obama “surge” in Afghanistan, based on Bush’s “surge” in Iraq, was in full swing.

I have long argued that the Bush surge failed (explanation in three parts here). TheObama surge has failed, too, and for the same basic reason that has nothing to do with leaving Iraq “too soon,” or, I deeply hope, “leaving Afghanistan” in 2014. It is vital to stress that these failures are not due to the bravery and sacrifice and skill of our military forces. These forces have resolutely fufilled their impossible missions, to say the very least. The failures lie in war-planning and political strategy, ignorance and fecklessness, at the highest levels of the Bush and Obama White Houses, in the Pentagon, and in the Congress that failed to check them.

(To such ignorance and fecklessness we may also add an epic show of institutional callousness.)

The simple fact is that an army from Judeo-Christian lands cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic land.

This is the obvious but untaught and thus unlearned lesson of these past twelve years of tragic, costly wars. They call us “infidel.” We think that doesn’t matter. The Koran is their guide and they build their constitutions upon its laws. We help them do so and order our soldiers to risk their lives upholding theses sharia-supreme documents in the fantasy-name of  “universal” rights that exist nowhere but in the West. (See the madness begin here back in 2004). Meanwhile, sharia norms and masked Marxism are eroding liberty in the West while 99 percent of our political leaders do nothing.

They learn nothing, too. They set post-9/11 strategy in Iraq without seeing sharia norms and jihad doctrine as obstacles to “nation-building” on a (flawed) Western model — as though sharia and jihad can be eliminated as the authoritative foundations of Islamic culture by wish or denial. Such a  see-no-Islam strategy was doomed to fail, and so it did. But instead of retooling this failed strategy (which served mainly to the benefit of Iran, China and other enemies), they turned around and implemented it in Afghanistan.

We must win the people’s “hearts and minds,” Gen. Petraeus urged his men back in Iraq.

We must win the Afghans’ “trust,” Adm. Mullen and others   stressed (or buy it).

Thus, our soldiers were ordered to take hills of the Islamic mind-world that infidel armies can never attain.

We must respect their culture, the generals insisted, seeking more and more common ground, but ceding ground (metaphorical and real) instead. Vital ground.

We must protect the Afghan people (at the expense of our own), ordered the COIN corps generals, led by Petraeus, who infamously ordered:

“Walk. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population. Take off your [ballistic] sunglasses. Situational awareness can be gained only by interacting face to face, not separated by ballistic glass or Oakleys.

Such “situational awareness” came at a great and tragic cost – but with little if any lasting benefit. Neither “protecting the population,” nor restricting ROEs, nor insanely profligate public works projects have permitted the infidel counterinsurgency to achieve its goals — winning Islamic hearts, minds or trust.

Cultural prostration hasn’t worked either, but not for want of trying.

We must respect their culture (no matter how barbaric). We must uphold their culture (no matter how vile). We must protect Islam, too. We must submit to its laws, and punish Americans who don’t. And punish Americans.

“Handle the Koran as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art,” a memo to Joint Task Force Guantanamo ordered in January 2003. That wasn’t enough. “We will hold sacred the beliefs held sacred by others,” ISAF declared in 2012.

Soon we will have new and enduring allies in the war on “terror.” What difference will it make if we can only fight together for the other side?

From April and August 2009 — over one thousand combat dead and thousands of combat wounded ago.

From April 3, 2009:

“What Do You Mean: If We Ever Want to Leave Afghanistan?”

From August 14, 2009:

“All Those Boots on the Ground and No Imprint.”

Petraeus Betrayed His Country Before He Betrayed His Wife

Diana West

Was David Petraeus as great a general as the write-ups of his downfall routinely claim? This is a provocative question that I will begin to answer with another question: Did America prevail in the Iraq War? I suspect few would say “yes” and believe it, which is no reflection on the valor and sacrifice of the American and allied troops who fought there. On the contrary, it was the vaunted strategy of the two-step Petraeus “surge” that was the blueprint of failure.

While U.S. troops carried out Part One successfully by fighting to establish basic security, the “trust” and “political reconciliation” that such security was supposed to trigger within Iraqi society never materialized in Part Two. Meanwhile, the “Sunni awakening” lasted only as long as the U.S. payroll for Sunni fighters did.

Today, Iraq is more an ally of Iran than the United States (while dollars keep flowing to Baghdad). This failure is one of imagination as much as strategy. But having blocked rational analysis of Islam from entering into military plans for the Islamic world, the Bush administration effectively blinded itself and undermined its own war-making capacity. In this knowledge vacuum, David Petraeus’ see-no-Islam counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine would fill but not satisfy the void.

The basis of COIN is “population protection” — Iraqi populations, Afghan populations — over “force protection.” Or, as lead author David Petraeus wrote in the 2007 Counterinsurgency Field Manual: “Ultimate success in COIN is gained by protecting the populace, not the COIN force.” (“COIN force” families must have loved that.) Further, the Petraeus COIN manual tells us: “The more successful the counterinsurgency is, the less force can be used and the more risk can be accepted.” “Less force” and “more risk” translate into highly restrictive rules of engagement.

More risk accepted by whom? By U.S. forces. Thus we see how, at least in the eyes of senior commanders, we get the few, the proud, the sacrificial lambs. And sacrificed to what? A theory.

The Petraeus COIN manual continues: “Soldiers and Marines may also have to accept more risk to maintain involvement with the people.” As Petraeus wrote in a COIN “guidance” to troops in 2010 upon assuming command in Afghanistan: “The people are the center of gravity. Only by providing them security and earning their trust and confidence can the Afghan government and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) prevail.” That was a theory, too. Now, after two long COIN wars, we know it was wrong.

COIN doctrine approaches war from an ivory tower, a place where such theories thrive untested and without hurting anyone. On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, however, the results have been catastrophic. Tens of thousands of young Americans answered their country’s call and were told to accept more “risk” and less “protection.” Many lost lives, limbs and pieces of their brains as a result of serving under a military command structure and government in thrall to a leftist ideology that argues, in defiance of human history, that cultures, beliefs and peoples are all the same, or want to be.

Attributing such losses to Petraeus’ see-no-Islam COIN is no exaggeration. In his 2010 COIN guidance, Petraeus told troops: “Walk. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population.” As the Los Angeles Times reported last year, “The counterinsurgency tactic that is sending U.S. soldiers out on foot patrols among the Afghan people, rather than riding in armored vehicles, has contributed to a dramatic increase in arm and leg amputations, genital injuries and the loss of multiple limbs following blast injuries.”

Indeed, the military has had to devise a new category of injury — “dismounted complex blast injury” — while military medicine has had to pioneer, for example, new modes of “aggressive pain management at the POI (point of injury)” and “phallic reconstruction surgery.”

But not even such COIN sacrifices have won the “trust” of the Islamic world. On the contrary, we have seen spiraling rates of murder by our Muslim “partners” — camouflaged by the phrase “green on blue” killings. COIN commanders, ever mindful of winning (appeasing) “hearts and minds,” blame not the Islamic imperatives of jihad but rather summer heat, Ramadan fasting and the “cultural insensitivity” of the murder victims themselves. Such is the shameful paralysis induced by COIN, whose manual teaches: “Arguably, the decisive battle is for the people’s minds. … While security is essential to setting the stage for overall progress, lasting victory comes from a vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope.”

Notice the assumption that something called “overall progress” will just naturally follow “security.” Another theory. It didn’t happen in Iraq. It hasn’t happened in Afghanistan. Since nothing succeeds like failure, the doctrine’s leading general was rewarded with the directorship of the CIA.

There is more at work here than a foundationally flawed strategy. In its drive to win Islamic hearts and minds, COIN doctrine has become an engine of Islamization inside the U.S. military. To win a Muslim population’s “trust,” U.S. troops are taught deference to Islam — to revere the Quran; not to spit toward Mecca (thousands of miles away); and to condone such un- or anti-Western practices as religious supremacism, misogyny, polygamy, pederasty and cruelty to dogs. Our military has even permitted Islamic law to trump the First Amendment to further COIN goals, as when ISAF commander Petraeus publicly condemned an American citizen for exercising his lawful right to freedom of speech to burn a Quran.

This explains why the reports that CIA director David Petraeus went before the House Intelligence Committee in September and blamed a YouTube Muhammad video for the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, sounded so familiar. Whatever his motivation, it was all too easy for Petraeus to make free speech the scapegoat for Islamic violence. But so it goes in COIN-world, where jihad and Shariah (Islamic law) are off the table and the First Amendment is always to blame.

If there is a lesson here, it is simple: A leader who will betray the First Amendment will betray anything.

Obama’s War: US Soldiers are Told They are Fighting for the Afghan People, Not for the US

Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV, commander of 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

By

An American hero, Colonel Harry Tunnell IV, Commander of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, documented the truth about the war in Afghanistan.

What Obama is really doing in Afghanistan is treasonous.

Dated August 20, 2010, a letter was written to John McHugh, Secretary of the Army, signed by Colonel Harry Tunnell IV.  In the letter, four significant factors about military operations in Afghanistan were revealed.

1.  When US soldiers arrive in Afghanistan, they are told that they are fighting for the Afghan people:

“Soldiers join the military today to protect the United States, yet they are told once in Afghanistan that we are fighting for the Afghan people – this is a rather mercenary outlook and ignores the fact that the United States was attacked September 11, 2001.”

2.  Contrary to the lies Joe Biden told the American people during the VP debate on October 11th, Afghan Security Forces are not able to be properly trained:

The idea that Afghan forces can lead operations such as Marjah, as was touted in the media when the operation began, is pure fancy.”

“As part of our formula for success we place a remarkable amount of emphasis on the Afghan Security Forces without understanding the men who make up that force.  It is very unlikely that we will be able to provide Afghans with a level of education and training to make them an independent and reliable force that can deny Afghanistan as a safe haven to terrorists…. The Soviet Union’s attempt to create a professional independent military collapsed as soon as the Soviets withdrew (from Afghanistan), which is what contributed to the ascendency of the Taliban.  This should provide an obviously cautionary tale.”

“An overview of a few cultural behaviors of Pashtu men might help one make an informed assessment about the efficacy of plans requiring independent performance from Afghan Security Forces – to determine if the objective is consistent with the reality.  This cultural information is well known, there are numerous anecdotal reports, and there is a growing body of research from Human Terrain Teams and others.”

“… Afghan security forces… lack of technical skills… Out of a class of ten at our recent academy to train a Fire and Rescue Service for Spin Boldak District, only two of the trainees had ever driven a vehicle – and that is giving credit to the trainee who had driven a tractor once or twice in his life.  Even simple tasks… present challenges.

“Attempts to integrate women into the security forces… Afghan males are among the greatest misogynists in the world. The Burqa is not a Taliban invention; it is a Pashtu cultural norm.”

Health and hygiene will not be maintained at an acceptable level… Afghan military units – particularly small outposts – are bastions of filth.”

Aberrant sexual behavior is acceptable. Considering the misogynistic culture… There is an acceptance of pedophilia that is wide spread and boys are sometimes kidnapped.  Leaders have been known to sexually assault male subordinates…”

“NCOs… are largely illiterate.”

“…the population does not like how the Taliban deliver but the incontrovertible fact is that the Taliban are Pashtu and their cultural norms are the same as any other Pashtu male… In fact, religiously inspired Pashtu movements are a traditional part of life in southern Afghanistan.  The British… had a nickname for them: “Mad Mullah Movements”.  The most frequently ignored fact is that the average farmer in southern Afghanistan will appreciate far more what Mullah Omar is proposing than what we are…”

3.  US military resources are misappropriated, leaving our US soldiers ill-equipped and vulnerable to greater risk of death and injury.

“Formations that are assigned maneuver tasks without the requisite training or equipment will suffer increased and unnecessary casualties.”

“There are two important things to note: (1) this mission, to secure Kandahar City and its environs, was exactly how American forces were arrayed before being dispatched in the ill-conceived freedom of movement mission and (2) all of the maneuver was done by United States Army units – an extravagant use of tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars to placate British units and commanders.”

“In addition to marginalizing American leaders, British forces take advantage of American resources such as Full Motion Video from Unmanned Aerial Systems, Route Clearance Packages, and other capability that should go to American soldiers.  We had instances when these tools were denied to American troops in contact because they were not released from British control (even though they were observing no enemy activity).  A more direct example of disregard for Americans is the manner in which Task Force Helmand addressed the catastrophic IED strike on an American engineer vehicle supporting their operations.  The vehicle was attacked with an IED and one US Soldier was killed.  The killed and wounded were evacuated, but the remaining Soldiers were left for several days on the disabled vehicle before recovery…. American engineers were eventually forced, at great risk, to get the equipment themselves – having another Route Clearance Package battle damaged in the process.  Another instance… when conducting a joint resupply patrol with the British and was abandoned half way through the patrol.  The British took the American Route Clearance Package and simply left.  The engineer task force sent two Route Clearance Packages to recover this BSB patrol – it took two because the first one was blown up.

The denial of American resources to American soldiers that is commonplace is heart-breaking.  The United States and Romania allow military personnel to travel on aircraft that do not have armor or defense capability, but several other partner nations do now.  The result is that foreign military members are frequently prioritized at a higher level to fly on United States military aircraft which takes seats from Americans who are left to fly civilian contracted air.  We expose our own service members to greater danger for the convenience of our partners and the American taxpayer, who has provided this capability for the protection of Americans, is deceived.

4.  Rules of engagement were changed under Obama’s command, thus ensuring greater risk of death and injury to our soldiers.

Our potential for greater coalition casualties does not have to be inevitable, but due to our flawed approach to operations we wind up enabling our enemy.  The population-centric approach which places the population as the center of gravity is applied to the point of absurdity.  The enemy is entrenching himself among the civilian population as we cede to him territory and lines of communication.  Our poor military approach, inadequate tactics, and haphazard operational art are compounded by NATO partnership in general and British leadership specifically.  A gross lack of concern for subordinates manifests in guidance that “zero” civilian casualties are acceptable and coalition soldiers may have to be killed rather than defend themselves against a potential threat and risk being wrong and possibly resulting in injury or death of civilians – a verbal order from MajGen Carter.”

Population-centric approaches to war have resulted in senior officers that are almost pacifistic in their approach to war; while they may have a public persona that seems offensively spirited, that is not the reality when they are issuing guidance to subordinates.”

“It is clear that US Army units are employed in ways that are grossly inconsistent with sound military tactics.”

Related to the emphasis on the population, and ignoring an improved capability against the enemy, is the contempt for technology… We are far behind where we should be and this has contributed to increased American deaths and non-combatant casualties while our enemy retains freedom of movement and maneuver locally, regionally, and internationally.”

These truths in Colonel Tunnell’s letter are corroborated by the dramatic increase in US soldier fatalities, injuries and suicide under the Obama regime.  As recorded by ICasualties, here are the number of fatalities and wounded to date:

  • US Soldiers – Fatalities are now up 410% under Obama. (an average of 401 US soldiers per year under Obama versus 79 per year under Bush).
  • US Soldiers – Wounded are up nearly 1200% under Obama.  (an average of 4,010 US soldiers per year under Obama versus 330 per year under Bush).
  • In addition, US soldier suicide rates have increased to levels never seen before.  This began when Obama took over as Commander-In-Chief in 2009.  Here is a June 2012 article.  Here is a January 2010article which describes the 2009 suicide rate as follows:

    “…the toll of military suicides last year was the worst since records began to be kept in 1980.”

Recall that on the campaign trail in 2008, Obama told the American people that Afghanistan was the war we needed to be fighting.  The media promoted this and the majority of Americans unfortunately believed it, along with all the other lies, and elected this man into the Presidency.

Read more at Gulag Bound