It would be a political and strategic mistake to identify irregular warfare, COIN especially, as America’s dominant strategic future (Grey 1).
” I disagree, I would assert that due to the United States’ superior military power and technology, more stable political system (democracy), and globally dominate economy, we can and will, be successful in COIN operations.
Examining each of these pillars of power will illustrate the advantage the United States has already demonstrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how these pillars will give us the strategic advantage in irregular warfare or “COIN,” going forward. Three pillars form the foundation of my argument of why the United States can and should engage in COIN operations in the future. The three pillars are; advanced military capability, a superior political system, and global economic dominance.
Any of these pillars will dominate any adversary who would contemplate engaging in an insurgency against our country, but combined, no current state, individual or group has the capacity to overthrow or even successfully engage. First, look at the pillar of military capability, as applied during our recent COIN operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US execution of COIN in Afghanistan has achieved success by virtually all military standards.
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To prove it, in soviet invasion of Afghanistan it is documented that “On December 27, 1979, under cover of an ongoing Soviet military buildup, heavily-armed elements of a Soviet airborne brigade were airlifted into Kabul, Afghanistan, to violently overthrow the regime of President Hafizollah Amin (Giradet 2) ” which resulted in years of COIN engagements in that country by the Soviet Union.
Bottom line, over a much shorter period of time (1979-1988), and with more soldiers on the ground (over 113,000), the USSR lost nearly 13,310 soldiers, compared to 2000 deaths in Afghanistan so far for the US out of less than 100,000 on the ground (Giradet 2).
The United States also has a tremendous technological advantage over our adversaries and we are just now discovering ways to capitalize on these advantages.
John Standhill recently wrote: “Because it may be difficult or impossible to distinguish between an insurgent, a supporter of an insurgency who is a non-combatant, and entirely uninvolved members of the population, counter-insurgency operations have often rested on a confused, relativistic, or otherwise situational distinction between insurgents and non-combatants. ” The United States is winning the COIN technology race, consequently, the longer this type of warfare is goes on, the more sophisticated and advanced our technologies and capabilities will be, and the enemy, will not able to adapt, further diminishing its success.
Just a small example of where US military technology is going, “Ashima Devices has developed a 3D surveillance technology for use with the company’s ForceField drones. These small unmanned helicopters can be clipped to a soldier’s standard ALICE field-gear kit When deployed, they provide a real-time, 3D view of the battlefield, including what’s around a corner or rooftop, and can even simulate storming a building. The device uses a handheld computer to display the 3D view. You might recognize the name Harris Corp; this year, the company started assisting the Pentagon with a “situational awareness” tracking system.
It uses video from military drones and creates a log of battlefield threats — and can even flag one particular enemy troop for closer analysis (Brandon 3).
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And finally, “wired reported recently about the Team Technology Stingray, a device that shoots a tiny stream of water at thousands of feet per second — it’s like a water laser. The idea: A bomb diffuser could use the device to disable roadside IED bombs by shooting a high-powered stream that splits the IED without actually causing an explosion, rendering it harmless. (Brandon 3)” All of this technology will soon be deployed and further increase U. S. success rate in COIN operations.
Addressing the pillar of economic power, the CIA world fact book from 2010 reports the United States GDP was 14, 620,000 million dollars and the next closest country was China, which had a GDP of 5,879,100 million dollars. California, Texas, New York, and Florida are all in the top twenty, with the rest of the top twenty being countries, not states (CIA Fact book 4) . The country of Greece has the same economic GDP as the state of Washington, with just over $330 billion a year, while Russia (a definite threat), would most closely compare to the state of Texas with a GDP of approximately $1,233. 89 million in 2010.
Undoubtedly, the economic prowess of the United States, even during one of the worst recessions in our lifetime, economically crushes all other nations on the world on a global scale. We could impose our economic influence as we did during world war two to really engage in a COIN environment, if we wanted to, but have chosen not to and still achieved relative success (Iraq and Afghanistan).
Former President Jimmy Carter, with respect to our ability to influence based on our economic and technological advantages, offers this counter argument: “Globalization, as defined by rich people like us, is a very nice thing… ou are talking about the Internet, you are talking about cell phones, you are talking about computers. This doesn’t affect two-thirds of the people of the world (5) ” I believe the president fails to recognize that while two-thirds of the world may not be impacted by our advances in technology and economic power, the reality of our economic power, relative to these other economies makes our ability to quell any insurgency significant. The third pillar supporting irregular war (COIN) operations is that of political stability.
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As the information age continues to expand rapidly, individuals around the world will be increasingly drawn to the United States because of the liberty and freedoms available here. As globalization continues, the political influence the US will be able to leverage, even on an individual basis around the world, will be an an extremely effective tool. Democracy will be the agent for change and influence in the coming century for both states, and individuals. Anocracies (pseudodemocracies) do not often succeed against insurgencies and are rarely successful in fully democratizing. Fifteen of the 89 cases studied could be described as anocracies, or democracies in name only. Anocracies have a particularly poor record at countering insurgency, winning about 15 percent of all contests (1:7, with eight ongoing or mixed outcomes).
Lessons from the one case of successful democratization we identified—Croatia— are both debatable and not necessarily transferrable to other conflicts.
Democratizing an anocracy in the midst of an insurgency is an unappealing but not necessarily impossible venture (Connable 6) . Bottom line, in order to force political will (win in COIN) on any adversary, I believe you have to have the political stability to tolerate the casualties of war, and have the political solution (democracy) with the highest probability of success of implementing in a new country. Democracy is a formidable political option to terrorism and since is the basis for the United States political system.
John F Kennedy said it best;” Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. ” Dissenters argue the US should not engage in COIN operations argue “ Withdrawal of state sponsorship cripples an insurgency and typically leads to its defeat. Inconsistent or impartial support to either side generally presages defeat (Connable 6).
” In other words, our recent success in Iraq stemmed from the fact that the insurgency did not have a formidable “state sponsor” for the insurgency.
Dissenters would point to Greece in the 1945 and “When sponsorship was wholly withdrawn (e. g. , Greece, 1945–1949), the victory ratio for the insurgent fell to 1:4 (also of decided and not mixed or ongoing cases).
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In other words, loss of state sponsorship correlates with a tipping point (Connable 6).
” However, anyone who has deployed with the US, or is knowledgeable about Iraq knows that the Iranian influence on the war was substantial, but as long as we are engaged, we cannot be defeated.
In conclusion, if the United States only had one pillar of success, the dissenting argument made by Charles would be more credible, even I would concede that having military dominance can be transient and change states with time. However, the United States has three formidable pillars; our military capability, our political system, and enormous economic advantages, all of which combined, present a omnipotent force that the United States can employ for good.
We are developing military technology which will protect our Soldiers, a political system which empowers individual freedoms and has a history of being successful in this type of conflict as opposed to anocracies, and the economic power stemming from an economy with a GDP that is nearly triple that of the next closest economy. My thesis will only fail, if the American people change their resolve, and embrace defeat and chaos, instead of liberty and justice for all.