You may have noticed in the literature lately that people and leaders are concerned about retaining the lessons of the last ten years of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is an important idea because the US military is concerned above all other entities to learn from mistakes and benefit from best practices – doing this actually saves lives. What then are the lessons from the last ten years – and what do we do with them?
Here are a few worth noting from our on-going review of studies, books, and articles and interviews and discussions with practitioners:
- Counterinsurgency theory works when applied as a tactic or operation. It is less clear if the theory is applicable as a national strategy.
- The principles of counterinsurgency are sound, however, strategic planners must be sensitized to the fact that counterinsurgency operations historically last many years and may devolve or evolve to enormously expensive nation-building. National leaders must choose their fights very carefully.
- Counterinsurgency must not be “centric” or focused on anything but warfighting. Population-centric, leader-centric, security-centric – all may restrict commanders from applying all the elements of combat power and critical thinking and problem solving to accomplishing the mission, given the operational environment and desired end-state.
- Special Operations Forces and Conventional Forces combined are necessary to combating irregular or hybrid threats, therefore, we must take steps to integrate and make them more interdependent.
Each of these lessons may find their way into policy, doctrine, training or education in the coming months. Also, The Counterinsurgency Center just concluded an important conference on the revision of FM3-24, Counterinsurgency – you can see some of the principal take-aways on the next page. Do you have other ideas? Please comment on the Counterinsurgency Center blog or email us your ideas: email@example.com.
One other important note: we also have to say good bye to a terrific Soldier and Leader — LTC John Paganini. Through his dynamic leadership and dedication to our Soldiers, a first class counterinsurgency seminar was developed and implemented and the FM 3-24 revision is well underway. We wish John good luck and God speed as he moves on as a student in the Advanced Operational Art Studies Fellowship here at Leavenworth, where again he will have a huge impact on our future Leaders. Thanks John for all you have done for the AIWFC and all the BCTs you and your team have touched.
Thanks for your service.
Dan French (Deputy Director)