Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Civility as Enhanced CIMIC in Afghanistan

Great piece by Mountain Runner (hat tip) on an interesting memo written on standards of conduct by deployed troops by Command Sergeant Major Daniel Wood of the Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan (the CSM is part of the leadership group of CFC-A, which runs ISAF).

The memo calls for something very basic: namely that regular standards of conduct by deployed tropps, including in non-threathening situations is respectful of and accomodating towards the local population. In fact, it spells out in a few clear words how a logic of counter-insurgency proper is different from a logic of war:
We are currently engaged with an enemy that attempts to win battles in the press where the tide of public opinion is the ammunition and make no mistake... this ammunition is effective, especially when it has credibility. The effective engagement of the "middle ground" or the people of the rural communities and villages of this country is where the long war will be won. EVERY TIME you move down a road in this country, you are affecting this middle ground either positively or negatively.
These observations are not new -- standard COIN stuff. But they represent an example of this logic in practice. Moreover, the memo means that there must be a clear lack of such standard conduct. Therefore, the new logic cannot have been well implemented if at all yet. Still the memo represents a seeping down to the operational level of the new COIN logic of the Long War in some version, as e.g. an example of an application of Echevarria's (top level division of labor) analysis in "Towards an American Way of War".

As the memo apparently only concerns US service personnel, it would be interesting to see to which degree its analysis of lacking conduct applies to the other NATO service personnel under ISAF -- especially those serving in the PRT units. The PRTs are one attempt at creating the international security administration units of the future, dealing especially with Thomas PM Barnett's SysAdmin tasks in the mix of stabilization and reconstruction, or "enhanced CIMIC" in other words.

The memo can be read in its entirety at Mountain Runner, including his fine analysis (don't miss the comments on Nagl and SWET as a 'broken windows' approach).
Related posts:

Jun 06 2006: The Barnier Report: Slow Step Towards a European State-Building Agency
May 01 2006: Counterinsurgency: Changing the Military Ethos
Mar 29 2006: Of History and Counterinsurgency
Mar 17 2006: The Long War, Casualty Adversity & Fortified Concrete
Feb 21 2006: Effects Based Cultural Awareness
Feb 16 2006: Afghan SysAdmin Training for US Army

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