Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gen Mattis gets it:
Mattis was a big proponent of decentralization and disaggregation of authority to the lowest echelons. “High performing small units are now a national imperative, capable of operating independently at increasingly lower echelons,” Mattis said in a speech at CSIS last year.

The “advise and assist” capability of ground forces will be key, requiring that regular forces achieve a “seamless” integration with special operations forces. Those small teams, he said, must partner with foreign militaries, live and work among the local people, and operate with a minimal logistics footprint.

“These wars will be fought among the people… we’re going to have to deal on human levels with human beings and not think that technology or tactics by targetry will solve war,” he said.

This is exactly right. There is much confusion among the press about what exactly counter-insurgency is, that it is merely a "softer" approach, it is more than a focus on avoiding casualties, it is still war. But successful counter-inssurgency is ground-up, not top down. Indeed, many policies, such as McCrystal's much vaunted policy of avoiding collateral damage from airstrikes, can do more harm to a counter-insurgency strategy than they help-- they handicap local commanders in classic Big Army top-down decision making. Only Afghans can build Afghanistan, and building effect indigenous police and army units can only come from field commanders and corporals working with, observing and learning from Collation units engaging in the full spectrum of governance, both civil and violent. The critical decisions of combat, when to engage in force and when not to, is the key lesson that can avoid corruption and build stable societies.

UPDATE: Gen Petraeus moves decisively to implement exactly this.
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