Skip to comments.Proportionality in Modern Asymetrical Wars
Posted on 01/24/2010 12:53:14 AM PST by jerusalemjudy
Asymmetrical conflicts are fought between a state following the laws of armed conflicts or international humanitarian law, and organizations that almost never follow these rules and have very little incentive to do so. While the Geneva Conventions and their protocols were framed in an era of classic military engagements, when wars were fought between nations and by armies that observed the rules of armed conflict, we should examine whether these norms are suited to modern armed conflicts.
In practice there exist two very different approaches to the interpretation of the principle of proportionality: the human rights model, which gives preference to the interests of civilians who might be harmed by military action, and the contractual model, which gives precedence to state interests. Yet a third approach may be more suitable: the administrative model, based on respect for the professional discretion of the commander in the field, with some necessary limitations.
The concept of proportionality permits military personnel to kill innocent civilians provided that the intended targets of the operation are enemy forces and not civilians.
(Excerpt) Read more at jcpa.org ...
I like the William Tecumseh Sherman model, just do what you have to do to break the enemy’s will and the war will be over with a lot less bloodshed and suffering to civilians than letting terrorists hide in schools and hospitals. Make the enemy howl and there’ll be no need to hamstring our military trying to win hearts and minds. Sorry, that’s never worked.
At some point a reasonable person has to stop worrying about these people’s hearts and minds, and become willing to settle for their asses...
The "hearts and minds" of which you speak is actually the only way you will ever "win" a small war. Doing what you suggest as "doing what you need to do to break the enemy's will" only generates more hatred and hard feelings against your force, in addition to handing the enemy an info-war victory that they hold up against you.
Winning the support of the population is a critical component of any small war, without their support you have no inside knowledge of the opposition organization, you don't know who the bad guys even are until they point a gun at you, in other words, its one of your foundation points in your COIN strategy.
Believe it or not, it works. There are plenty of Afghans who are helping us over there, they tell us where the IED's are, they tell us when groups of bad guys are moving through the hills to infiltrate, obviously we don't get them all, but we do get quite a lot, however they are getting discouraged with the lack of progress, the Taliban seems to be gaining the momentum and that hurts us.
Part of the reason I think we haven't "won" there yet is that we haven't finished the job. Back in 2007 we were fighting aggressively in Helmand, the Taliban was on the run, then we backed off, we gave them breathing room to regroup and re-arm and now we're paying the price for it. If we're going to have any chance of peace or security in Afghanistan we need to get back into Helmand in force to finish the job (there is a big difference in legitimate offensive operations and trying to win hearts and minds.
The people there live under Taliban rule, they support them because they have no choice (support us or die), we need to get back down there and crush the fight out of the Taliban, but it'll be bloody, and I don't think there is the political will to do it, which is sad because we might as well not even have gone in if we're not going to finish.
I don’t agree with you on that. Germany was not “defeated” in WWI and that led to the rise of Hitler. Germany was defeated decisively in WWII. Hearts and minds can come after you defeat an enemy not before. The same thing happens continually in the Balkans. Non-decisive endings lead to simmering tensions that eventually boil over into full blown warfare.
Another example is the Middle East. Every time Israel is about to defeat their enemies, the US and the West handcuff them and the Muslims are able to claim they weren’t defeated which eventually leads to another round of fighting.
Sure, we can use a divide and conquer strategy and we should. It worked for Caesar and it would work in Afganistan but you need to be the “strong horse” for them to follow since they will turn on a “weak horse”.
You are correct that Germany wasn't "defeated" in a conventional sense, they simply just went home, this did not lead to the rise of Hitler directly though, the punitive measures imposed by the treaty of Versailles (sp?) allowed conditions to become such that the rise of Hitler was enabled. If the Allies had let peace ensue, Hitler would not have had (legitimate) gripes to exploit among the people to allow him to gain power.
In a COIN strategy, the hearts and minds bit has to occur simultanously, while you still have the initiative and are able to control the situation, once you stop pressing forward against your opposition, if they still have the means to make war available to them, they will come back, as we've seen in Afghanistan. I'm not saying that going in hard down south again will give us utopia in Afghanistan, but it will take the fight out of them long enough for the government to come in and see to the needs of the people, win them over and continue operations against the hardline Taliban after we are gone.
That is victory for us.
In that regard, this is not as daunting a task as changing them ideologically; it's a matter of finding out what fills their immediate needs and fulfilling it. But this is really just a form of sustaining poverty like we do here in this country. You can't win because you can't keep it up - the cost of this, along with other nations [and there are plenty] is more than this country can afford.
Eventually, someone - another country/group - is going to come along when our support slacks and get put farther down on that hate list than us. And, the cycle starts again.
If youd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
The only way to win the hearts and minds is to get them by the balls first.
You are dealing with a culture that are first warriors, fighting is what they live for, second Muslims, so indoctrinated to hate all Kaffirs, and Westerners.
This is generally true. Think about it a minute though, even if you have traveled a great deal how many people do you really know enough to trust? Family? Friends? perhaps a few co-workers and people you've met on your way? You might know a great many people, but how many do you really like?
The Afghani people have known more or less nothing but violence for almost two generations, to say nothing of the fact that they were largely nomadic until recently. The Tribe is really all they know, and its served them well in the past. We all talk about the "Afghani People", but really there is no such thing. Its a collection of about 8 ethnic groups that have more or less been warring with each other since .... well....since humans have been around more or less. They all speak different dialects and largely have their own customs and traditions, so making any kind of government work there is going to be dicy, but they generally want to be a country.
They see everything that the west has, and they want that too, but they have huge problems, lack of water, lack of security, lack of trustworthy leadership, lack of education. Its only very recently that the country achieved 28% literacy, pre war it was more like 11%. Democracy is the wrong form of government for Afghanistan to start with, we made a big mistake when we foisted that on them. Our failures in Afghanistan have been numerous, and the Taliban have been capitalizing thats why we need to start playing to our strength and squash it while we can, while we still have the political will and legal authority.
If we don't, and we pull out in a years time (like everyone is planning on doing), the Taliban are going to take over again, and we'll be back, starting not just at square 1, but we'll actually be fighting our former allies, I can see it so clearly it makes me sick.
So yes, we have a year to win this, to squash the Taliban so thouroughly they have no ability to make war for at least 5-10 years. Need B-52's to wear a groove in the sky over Taliban strongholds and pound them hard for a long time, then move in on foot and secure the ground, sending hunter teams to persue them whereever they go. Then maybe we might have a chance to undo our mistakes and get the hell out
Well, yes I agree with this. It's called really fighting a war like you mean it. But this pResident won't do that. We should just start installing secret detonation devices in all of the explosives (shells, missiles, etc.) that we leave behind to detonate at a date to be determined.
Especially since they KNOW we play by the rules and they DON'T.
This is precisely WHY they do evil things like using women and children as "Human Shields".
heh, well as interesting as that sounds, we don't roll like that. Everyone (not military) thinks that because we put rules on ourselves on how we fight it puts us at a disadvantage, the reality is just the opposite. It is precisely because we fight with rules that we're better than them and the general populace know. We don't go around targeting civilians, we don't plant landmines for little kids hearding sheep to walk over, they know this and think it gives them advantage but it doesn't. When we take prisoners we don't brutalize them (waterboarding and stress positions aren't really torture, they're extremely unpleasent but you're not going to die from them) like they do with our guys.
We follow the rule of law, and its known. Everytime the Taliban kill an Afghani it has negative blowback on them, they get less cooperation and we get more. That huge assault on Kabul last week they mounted? That was an act of desperation, they're losing and they know it, but taken in the context of the way the press presented it, it is like we're losing.
With our ROE now, if you are taking fire from a mosque or hospital, you can return fire. If armed gunmen are using human shields, you can return fire (you'll be more careful and use more aimed shots than otherwise might be used, but you can return fire). The Laws of War are a good thing and we should stick with them, it gives us discipline and makes us better soldiers, the fact they don't adhere to them actually weakens them.
I've seen it quoted that those who adhere to rules overmuch when making war are doomed to lose, that quote seems to condemn the rules of war, but really it is condemning the rigid thinking of commanders. Our commanders are good at thinking outside the box and using the rules to reinforce rather than hinder our operations. What we're lacking is the support on the political side that is so crucial to military operations. The military is a servant of the government, we project national power where we are directed to (this is the right thinking with regards to the military), but the government has a duty to use us wisely, give us clear objectives and support us in achieving those objectives. We haven't gotten that in quite some time, by both parties.
Pulling out of Afghanistan after so much sacrifice in blood (after so many of my brothers and sisters in uniform have died!) without accomplishing our objectives is an unforgivable sin. Its not that Zero should get out of the way and let us do our job, thats not right at all. Its that he should get out front and LEAD. This whole Surge and Leave plan that he has is rediculous if it doesn't include going for the throat of our enemy (he's going to put those troops in the cities and FOB's and attempt to provide "security" so we already know he doesn't want an offensive, which was what McChrystal wanted the troops for).
Showing my geekiness a little bit, but I feel like I'm in the movie Dune where the Fremen have forced the Harkonens back into their bases while they go where they will and do what they want (don't take the metaphor too far though, we're definetly not the Harkonens ;) We need to get back into this fight in a big way.
Wow, got a lot off my chest there (I didn't mean to rant). In short following the Rules of War doesn't diminish us, it gives us strength and credibility, something our enemies really lack.
Hearts and Minds is crap...
Insider Information is crap..
Afganistan is a Tribal Region not a Country in any modern sense..
The only “Unconventional Warfare” you can successfully engage in is to Marry into the various Factions, Tribes and Clans Leadership. Back our Lts and Capts with small beau Geste Style Forts capable of a spirited Defense if required.. Now set the tribes and clans at each other.. Those that align with US their Lts and Captains lead Raids and the Conquest of those who oppose us. Bind the connections with Children.. Make them Part of the American Clan.. those that join live those that don’t we hunt down and Kill the men Assimilate the Women and Children into our Clans..
Everyone will understand such a policy and everyone will get it.. As it is the Afganis know we are a big bunch of morons.. They know we will leave soon and are no more going to align with the US than the Man in the moon..
So everthing they tell you and say right now is for show and to keep US Forces Mollified until we like everyone else leave (except Alexander whose decendents still remain in some Afganistan regions).
They know with certainty the Taliban will return to power and we will leave.. Cooperation with US? Self Delusion.
We have lost Strategically in Iraq to the Iranians.. We will lose in Afganistan to the Taliban not because our troops are outfought but because in both cases our Generals are OutThought by the enemy.
That's a mistake and you know it.
Bind the connections with Children.. Make them Part of the American Clan.. those that join live those that dont we hunt down and Kill the men Assimilate the Women and Children into our Clans..
Yeah, the solution is to start taking their women and children, that'll really get them on our side.
That you wish US Victory..
That you are sincere..
No evidence of the propagandist in your comments, mistaken as I belive some of them are.. You and they merit a considered and respectful response from me..
Please be patient and I will have it forthcoming. This is hard stuff for me to articulate.
If folks can come to understand how Vietnam was an unprecidented Strategic Victory for the United States.
How Iraq has been a Strategic Defeat so far.
If Americans can wrap their heads around that. If we can get our Leaders to actually fight. (Two very big ‘ifs”)
Victory in Afganistan will be relatively simple.
Victory over Islamofacisim assured.
How Iraq has been a Strategic Defeat so far.
I would be very interested in hearing (reading) your argument on this, particularly about Vietnam. I don't actually think Vietnam was a defeat, there were things that could have been done better but I want to hear you out.
Getting our leaders to actually fight would be a very great thing. We're not playing to our strength as a great power, part of the reason for this is I genuinely think we are waiting for the Taliban to come to the table and attempt to make Afghanistan work rather than destroy them utterly, this thinking is wrong in my view (as I strongly suspect it is in yours).
I mean it btw, lmk what your reasoning is for Vietnam and Iraq, either post it in a reply or send it FRmail, I'm looking forward to reading it.