By 2016, the economy shows signs of reawakening, but the middle and lower-middle classes have yet to experience much in the way of job growth or pay raises. Unemployment continues to hover perilously close to double digits, small businesses cannot meet bankers terms to borrow money, and taxes on the middle class remain relatively high. A high-profile and vocal minority has directed the publics fear and frustration at nonwhites and immigrants.
Heres the very, very first mistake. The author unintentional sets up a real bad guy for the insurgency, and creates a false one that ignores their actual motivations. The root cause of the insurrection is the economic profligacy of the government. While for the sake of lazy writing the author then adds on a spurious charge of racism (because that sells better) in reality, this amounts to the first mistake in intelligence collection, which is to not understand the motives of your opponent. This renders any predictive analysis compromised, and leads to a damaged course of action assessment. For instance:
The mayor of Darlington calls the governor and his congressman. He cannot act to counter the efforts of the local tea party because he is confined to his home and under guard. The governor, who ran on a platform that professed sympathy with tea party goals, is reluctant to confront the militia directly. He refuses to call out the National Guard. He has the State Police monitor the roadblocks and checkpoints on the interstate and state roads but does not order the authorities to take further action. In public the governor calls for calm and proposes talks with the local tea party to resolve issues. Privately, he sends word through aides asking the federal government to act to restore order. Due to his previous stance and the appearance of being pro tea party goals the governor has little political room to maneuver.
So, what the author is admitting here is that the movement isnt an isolated, fringe event, but in fact has so much popular support that even the state government, local police and military is largely behind it. That is not a fact to gloss over. That's trying to save a burning house while surrounded by an forest fire. The author hopes to thread the 'good Taliban/bad Taliban' needle, but that invariably is a self-delusion that bites us in the ass.
1. How much support does the movement have in other states? If the federal government has run the nation so deep into the ground that it makes armed revolution attractive, it stands to reason that these sentiments are not confined to South Carolina, and exist in large percentages elsewhere.
2. How much media support does it have?
a. Is the insurgency media-savvy? Its nice to hope theyre mindless brutes, but do they have any charismatic leaders, websites, arguments, videos? It seems they start out quoting the Declaration of Independence.
b. What if they avoid overt racist themes and stick to very Constitutional arguments?
3. How much will media coverage make them popular? Even if the spin is negative, public opinion may be just as hostile to the national media as it apparently has become to the national government.
a. Will mass coverage of a pro-Constitutional uprising backfire and make them more popular?
4. How much support does the movement have within the government? Even at 5%, youre looking at having people within the national security architecture who have access to some level of TS/SCI information. At levels so high that the state and local military units dont want to participate, and the state government is reluctant, youre looking at closer to 50%, with access to practically everything youd want to keep secret, which is like working with Iraqi security units made up of Mahdi Army militia members or Afghan terps who are Taliban sympathizers. And there will be sympathizers, from the local police up to the DHS/FBI/NSA itself. Theyll telegraph everything you do right as you start to do it. They'll sabotage efforts and equipment. Lead DHS troops into traps or reveal their movements. Publicize their mistakes. The whole architecture will be compromised by the ones who are most likely to seek out that type of employment in the first place. People who are willing to risk their lives for their country.
Having ten enemies within the wire is worse than having 100 outside it. And yet the authors saying that the influence of the insurgency is already so high that they need to go out of state for help? That means the entire state, if not the nation, is a powder keg dangling over a bonfire.
5. What is the national political situation like? All this focuses in on poor little South Carolina in isolation.
a. What are the second order effects of launching a counterinsurgency effort on U.S. soil during a period of economic hardship?
b. Where are #OWS, anti-war leftists and other peacenik elements, and do they support military operations in 'flyover country'?
c. Where are the other Tea Party elements?
d. Would any of the above groups strike at the government elsewhere?
e. Would the government really leave *no* contingencies for a nation-wide crackdown?
f. How would a nation-wide crackdown be met with public approval?
The nation is likely already on the edge; how far would an effort like this have to go before it spiraled out of control? Four weeks? Four months? The funny thing about insurgencies is that the tend to last several years longer that you'd like.
6. What happens when the first government-led massacre takes place? Not an intentional one, but a gunfight where innocents are inadvertently killed via government heavy weapons, and the video makes it on to you tube as part of a cover up expose. Naturally, the government wont want to advertise these things, even if they are just accidents. But it *will* look like a cover up, and many Americans will turn from the government, or say I didnt sign up for this.
7. What is the ROE going to be?
a. What happens when the ROE is so tight, that the insurgents realize they can surrender, have media circus trials, and then go to prison and proselyze? We used to call the detention facilities terrorist college because theyd go in amateurs and come out experts. Not just in expertise, but radicalized in philosophy.
b. What happens when the ROE is so loose, than bloody videos start appearing, and the government tries to suppress them?
8. What is the I/O plan? If the Evil Tea Party is waving the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, how do you counter that message?
a. How do you target people on the fence?
b. How do you soften people on the insurgent side?
As the great helmsman reminds us, "The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea." How do you separate the guerrillas from the people? Well, you can smear them with charges of racism, but what if the people come to believe that youre smearing them because youve economically destroyed the country and shredded the Constitution? At a certain point, having a bad I/O plan is worse than having no plan, e.g. keeping your mouth shut is better than exposing yourself as a hypocrite. But without a good I/O plan, and in the face of an insurgency that speaks the language of the people, youll find that the waters of revolution run too deep to catch them, and quickly prove to be too deep to swim in wearing full body armor.
Anyway, these are the major red flags that occur to me based off the scenario. It's the kind of thing that led us into disaster in Iraq and a long, expensive stalemate in Afghanistan. The good Colonel seems to be cherry picking himself a very rosy scenario without looking at the potential consequences, which apparently has yet to go out of style, even after ten years of adventure in the Middle East.
The original is flawed and wrong-headed on many levels. So it is not surprising coming from .fed is these days. In fact the base assumptions are in part why there is a Tea Party.
Travis, thank you for finding and posting the article. I have gone to the site, followed the lead there to the full posting, downloaded and saved it. Well worth the read in it’s entirety.
Steel, your summary/analytical comments are excellent. Thank you for sharing. I have added you comments to the downloaded article.
Terrific response. It sounds to me like you should be teaching the class, and the COL (ret) should be wearing a dunce cap.
Ping to the whole thread in general and the replied-to post in particular.
Very though provoking. Thanks for posting it Travis.
And that's a bad sign, at least for Leavenworth. If the American military has any characteristic strength, it's overestimating the enemy. The two times the Pentagon underestimated the enemy, huge and bloody quagmires resulted. (The Civil War, Vietnam)
Leaving aside the silliness of the scenario, I sincerely hope that this duo is not representative of strategic planning in the Pentagon. The British Empire made the same mistake vis-a-vis the German Empire; all the worthies thought the war would be over by Christmas. It ended up being the bloodiest war ever until WW2 came along.
The wages of kicking the crap out of little countries every decade or so is hubris. The kind of hubris that will lead to an awful (and likely avoidable) war of attrition.
If I were in the Pentagon, I would keep those two far, far away from the contingency planning re mainland China.
Great post. Benson is acting extremely irresponsible by authoring this kind of crap. These kind of crazy ideas have a tendency to grow legs, especially under the currrent regime.