Human security plays a fundamental role in understanding the causes of contemporary warfare today, and that US and UK military doctrine developed based on this knowledge offers a valuable framework by which to revitalize UN peace operations moving forward.
When discussing the struggles of the U.S. military in the early years of the Iraq War, Davidson uses the phrase “adapting without winning,” a formulation that surely continues to accurately describe the American experience of the post-9/11 wars. Despite the optimistic characterizations on the dust jacket that frame this book as a manual for how to succeed at counterinsurgency, though, Lifting the Fog of Peace sounds a note of caution about the gap between tactical adaptation and strategic success, even as it lauds the U.S. military for the evolution of its lesson-learning apparatus.
Profound continuities have existed in warfare from the time humans first picked up heavy sticks, and any attempt to separate it into neatly delineated iterations or generations risks oversimplification. By attempting to sort military history, or any history, into neat generations, we risk overlooking points of continuity that might enhance our impressions of what “the past” must have been like.
Public-private partnerships are crucial for success in a suppression campaign. Civil society actors can make sense of low-level contextualized problems better than the state, but the state retains more power; in partnership both gain the resource advantages of the state and the contextualization advantages of the low level actor. This partnership is contingent upon public support and upon the efficiency of the suppression regime to absorb that support.
Major General John David Carew Graham CB, CBE, CStJ, Order of Oman, was born on 18 January 1923 and died on 14 December 2012 at his home on the island of Barbados. An impressive memorial service was held at St James’s Church Piccadilly on 7 March 2013, attended by hundreds of friends from both his first regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and also The Parachute Regiment. This account is not an obituary, rather a study into his time in command of the Sultan’s Armed Forces (CSAF) in Oman from 1970 to 1972, a crucial period of some 18 months when the communist insurgency in Dhofar was ‘turned’.
[T]actics matter, so geography matters. Strategy is not a branch of philosophy, but a practical activity hinging on securing ground of political importance, hinging in turn on your forces beating your enemy in the physical environment concerned...Reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom will not help you in northern Oman; these are people of mountain villages, not nomads of the desert. Anyone wishing to control inner Oman from Muscat on the coast must secure these wadis, which means controlling the towns and villages along them, no mean task given the climate, their distance from the coast and that most will be fortified and held by men with local knowledge and a stake in the outcome.
What do we do about the chronic, endemic issue of which ISIS is merely the latest manifestation? To answer that question, we must first look at our left and right limits of strategy and risk. What is on the table? What is off the table? What are we really trying to achieve and will it be worth the costs?The new American way of war seems to be to trickle into a fight, muddle our way through it with nebulous and often competing goals, and assume at some point—hopefully not too long after the arrival of boots on the ground or airpower overhead—that our enemies will come to their senses, lay down their arms because they suddenly see things our way, and promise to be good little citizens for time immemorial. I give you Iraq, Afghanistan, and most other every major military engagement back to Vietnam.What do we do about the chronic, endemic issue of which ISIS is merely the latest manifestation? The new American way of war seems to be to trickle into a fight, muddle our way through it with nebulous and often competing goals, and assume at some point—hopefully not too long after the arrival of boots on the ground or airpower overhead—that our enemies will come to their senses, lay down their arms because they suddenly see things our way, and promise to be good little citizens for time immemorial. I give you Iraq, Afghanistan, and most other every major military engagement back to Vietnam.
If nothing else, what our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have taught us is that our politico-military strategies need a corresponding, overarching, dare I say, “grand” strategy. Not just guidance. Perhaps, while we are writing the immediate history of our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and, presumably a fresher FM 3-24, we can also include a comprehensive strategy that guides the country’s subordinate departments and agencies.
Following the publication of the recent article “COIN Doctrine Under Fire,” I was lucky enough to ‘listen in’ on an enlightening conversation on one of the dozen listservs I frequent. While debating the merits of counterinsurgency, the list began discussing the value of capturing the pertinent lessons from a war…during and immediately following the conflict. On the discussion were of the authors of both the Army’s pre-eminent volume on Desert Storm and the first solid look at Iraqi Freedom.