Monday, February 25, 2008

4GW Part 5: Pros and Neo-cons of Fighting 4GW

As previously mentioned, the 4th Generation Warfare that is the GWOT was wrinkled when we went into Iraq. It seems that the idea was to respond, not on their terms, but to swoop in and undermine the elusive nature of 4GW fighters by taking down an evil like Saddam and replacing it as an example of an alternative to Islamofacists.

Nowadays, this "rise of democracy" stuff is laughed at. In fact, any weekend on Book-TV you can find folks railing against this ego-driven neo-con failure (and shocked that neo-cons are allowed to walk free--even though "neo-con" is kind of an unclear term). Some even start fondly remembering Bush I's realist policies, ironically enough. But Iraq is as generally accepted as a blunder as it is ignored during the recent months of steady progress.

So, what is there to learn from Iraq?

Well, one thing is that people don't care. The didn't care about Saddam's evil, they don't care if Iraqis are free or even dead, and they just want ignore this 4GW. Now, sure, lots of people care, but are making careful calculations with their realist tape-measures. However, most people just want things to be quiet again--like they were on 9/10/01. I'm not criticizing, I'm just saying don't expect most people to support big, messy counter-attacks like Iraq in 4GW or if they do, don't expect support for long (since staying in a "non-war" status is one of the major shields of 4GW fighters).

Obviously, this means speed is everything on big offensives. Get in and get out twice as fast your best estimate. If you're going to do nation building, your going to need "surge" right after victory. Decapitation strikes with pottery barn rules may be like getting toothpaste out of a tube all at once. First, you take off the top, then you squeeze as hard as you can with both hands instantly. We'll see more as Iraq goes on.

Anti-war movements are really "war on war" movements that are empowered by their own "war mobilization." They cannot be won over. Their goal is to declare the war lost (the why is another post). They will be joined by political enemies, foreign rivals, and celebrities. Some think the mistaken war gave them ammo, I'm more inclined to say mishandling gave them ammo. The crux is mistakes are going to be used to lose the offensive for you. Try to avoid naked pyramids.

Never let the purpose of the war or the offensive get away from you. Nobody should care about WMDs. Saddam was evil, he could make WMDs, he had no problem with terror or terrorists, and he was a violating the terms of peace. But the reasoning got so nailed down to WMDs. Goals should be specific and secret, the public reasoning should be based on morality, ideology, and triggering actions--like a recent attack or a missed deadline. I'm not saying people shouldn't know why, but if the word "nexus" appears in your explanation you might as well let Helen Thomas write your quote for you. Like if we had to stop an Iranian nuke, forget the UN resolutions and the broken promises and the terrorist ties and the human rights stuff and say, "we're not letting these fanatics even get close to a nuke" or "we're not going to allow another holocaust." Nothing to dispute. Not saying they have nukes. Just that they are dangerous people that appear to be ready to do dangerous things. No real debunking that, right? What are people going to say? We went to war with Iran and we didn't find any dangerous fanatics?

The UN is pretty well useless. Squeeze what you can from it, but at a certain point it is just going be used to stop the offensive. Anybody that slows or stops your offensive (no matter the country) in an international organization has proven their power; anybody that is supporting you has proven yours. Nobody wants to prove your power. How's that for realism. Close calls will always go against you, unless they are watered-down. Get the easy wins and then take it to the mat one-on-one with whoever you really need to agree. If they want you to get the UN behind it, then they really just want to slow or stop you.

Never tell the truth about how the military works. The Army is obsessed with a professional soldier/Warrior caste image. But the reality is that they are government employees who get shot at. Soldiers are wonderful, but they aren't Mr. Rogers and they work for desk jockeys. In between the guys with their lives on the line and the Generals with their careers on the line are a bunch of guys with clip-boards and fruit-salad trying to avoid being on CNN. All of them deserve our thanks, but being honest with the media about what a "Charlie Foxtrot" war fighting can be will never go over well. People just don't understand that this stuff is messy and unwieldy. Get them lots of briefings and night-vision video so they think that a dozen people can micro-manage 200,000.

Never forget how the military really works. If a plan isn't working, it's time to change plans. In war, the people who can get the job done do it. Ultimately, facts are facts. Even if the media picks and choses their facts they can't ignore clear victory. Soldiers might have a tough, crazy, and messy job, but, unless completely demoralized (which I don't see in our forces at all), they will complete the mission. Make sure you don't let anybody ride that bucking bronco that doesn't understand it has to go from that to bloody well Mr. Ed when he's done.

Annihilate enemy forces. We never really got a big story on the Iraq War proper's enemy KIAs. I always wondered if there was fear of the "highway of death" thing, but really that's a good thing. We spent a large portion of the war taking out the commands and control infrastructure and getting generals to surrender the armies. All very nice. Call me blood thirsty, but shock and awe works better when you hit HARD and fast. Hitting all the war-fighting goodies in a few hours is cool, but nothing says the offensive is a success like a highway of smoking vehicles and jargon like "kill box." If you don't kill everything to see not surrendering, it will melt away into the environment and bite you directly on the ass. But this is not for nation-building apparently--that's more of a bear hug/group hug, and you can't hug anything with satellite guided arms.

Work with the people. Co-Opt them and let them co-opt you. Expect to be lied to, but remember that you can't be a little bit pregnant just like you can't be a little bit supported by the populace in an occupation. Whatever general Petraeus is doing is apparently working and this lesson seems to be part of it. All I know from reading Time (commie rag) is that "you can't kill yourself out of an insurgency," you have turn people. I hope that works out.

Whatever the number of bombing runs--double it. Whatever the estimated number of troops needed cut it in half. Air war makes ground war easier. Speed is more important than numbers. If your troops get into a fight they can't handle that's where the enemy is en masse, so, you know, bomb there. (talking about Iraq type armies here). See, the 4GW nations and multi-national organization aren't exactly rife with Red Barons or Pattons. The old 16 to 1 thing isn't as true, especially if they no real air force or defense. Light and lethal works against these JV armies--if you have gianormous air support.

Killing major leaders will get you a two week extension of support. But memory will fade fast. Terrorists using mentally disabled to kill innocents will only neutralize the thought that everything is going to pot and give you no extra support.

At a certain point of media saturation, nobody will want to support your offensive anymore. You can stave this off, but really it is a fact that even if you had rousing victory after victory people would get tired. Shelf life of the longest war these days is two to four years, and maybe merely 3 weeks. And I mean from first shot fired to most everybody home. Looking at you Israel.

Basically, any offensive needs to hit the objectives and go home before the 4GW attacks on the ground and in the Media can bog them down. Speed is so important it is actually a force multiplier, if you wait even a second they'll hide all high value targets (this means force readiness is big, too). If you're stuck with some nation building you better clear and hold like a maniac to create the stability to get out. Stay vague so you can declare victory and stick to moral justifications. Interestingly, it was the realist move of going to the UN that slowed things down and locked the justification as just WMDs. I have to think that it was realists wanting to keep causalities down that led to the previous, failed "fort apache" strategy. Realists were wrong about numbers needed for invasion, but right about it for occupation. Clearly, Neo-Cons were wrong about people being able shake off the past and move forward--but maybe they have made a change recently--too soon to say. Pushing the surge was kind of a Neo-Con move by Bush, but their ideas for fighting the 4GW don't address the media front very well at all.

[Ed. Note- Read genie junkie's other Fourth-Generation Warfare posts:
4GW Part 1: What is Peace?
4GW Part 2: The End of History
4GW Part 3: Losing Iraq, "non-war" war in home-front politics
4GW Part 4: Is There a There?
4GW Part 5: Pros and Neo-cons of Fighting 4GW]

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