What people fail to realize is that this is World War III. The only difference is that the style of warfare has evolved in accordance with the evolution of Generational warfare.
Review the Generational Warfare:
· 1st Generation: tactics of line and column; which developed in the age of the smooth-bore musket.
· 2nd Generation: tactics of linear fire and movement, with reliance on indirect fire.
· 3rd Generation: tactics of infiltration to bypass and collapse the enemy’s combat forces rather than seeking to close with and destroy them; and defense in depth.
· 4th Generation (4GW) is conflict characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, soldier and civilian. (Wikipedia)
We have two major fronts. Originally Afghanistan which has since turn into the AF-PAK as the border front began to blur between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iraq was originally within the borders, until the lines also began to blur along the Iranian and Syrian border. We have seen Special Forces and Predator operations cross over the borders. Both of these theaters are directly and indirectly connected to other regions of insurgency and terrorist attacks coupled with instability around the world. The networks and our response have developed furthermore into Network Centric Warfare. This has made the Global aspect of this even further realized and acknowledged.
Global Insurgency. I consider what we are looking at now as a Global Insurgency. Our response to it is Counter Insurgency. The Global aspect of this can be known as Global Counter Insurgency Operation or GCOIN. It’s catchy; it coincides with the Google Generation; perhaps we can title the international terrorist aspect of it as iTerrorism (International Counter Terror Operations: iCT?) so it coincides with the Apple iPhone and iTechnology revolution. It’s all about packaging.
The international and more so accurately global (as this situation of interaction and events supersedes the concept of Nation) shows even more how this is a global phenomenon, i.e. World. Because this is a War in many aspects to include the non combat aspects of COIN we can appropriately title today’s state of affairs as a world war. Ultimately, we are looking at a global front with two sides. These two sides are in accordance with Barnett’s view of the Non-Integrating Gap and the Core (Barnett). With Barnett’s view incorporated, we see this as a truly global endeavor.
As a caveat for the unpragmatic idealists against “US”, “hegemony”; I would like to annotate a brief notion on the noncombative / nonlethal / nonkinetic operations. Despite many critical observers of GCOIN and iCT efforts by great brave and brilliant men and women around the world; our most crucial weapon in our arsenal often is not the Predator, the Spy, or the Soldier. People en masse usually fight when it’s for their lives. Despite the core idealist believers the IED “trigger pullers”, and RPG launchers and the inevitable supporters are local population members who are angry and uneducated. They have poor employment resources, they are feeling left out, they are indoctrinated with brief anecdotes against the “West” and its supporters by radical propagandists.
Our primary tool in our toolbox against this unfortunate circumstance is Development. Economic Development, Political Development, Security Development, Agricultural Development, Healthcare Development, Educational Development and quite frankly, overall Institutional Development of all the necessary Institutions required to run a national entity. The integration of US Departments and Economic institutions (and their international allies and peers) will fill the gap that exists in our Operations Other Than War or as Barnett titles “war in the context of everything else”. The US Military has realized during the early parts (Iraq and Afghanistan, but mostly Iraq) of this GCOIN that simply fighting force on force attrition warfare will not work. This was an obvious item that most people knew. One that was seen early on, for example my time during early 2004 in Diyala Province, Iraq. Whenever the US could draw the insurgency into a “force on force” firefight the US would demolish them.
More importantly, other than force on force, was the realization of the need to implement serious socio-political and socio-economic infrastructure along with physical public infrastructure such as public transportation and water and electrical factors. This has been implemented many times in many places. One issue of this is the insurgency destroying this infrastructure. The attempt to repair will continue and will ultimately succeed in the initial two-front theaters.
A positive example of our lessons learned is developing on the African continent vis-a-vis the recent creation of AFRICOM. In an article by Barnett, a statement was made saying that AFRICOM will be Iraq, done right. AFRICOM is the future of GCOIN. It’s the ultimate Pre-Emptive Strike. It’s the US realizing that we do not want to fight there, that we do not want another Somalia or Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s our attempt to conduct all the other than war application before we actually “go to war” with Africa. It’s the supreme IPB (Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield).
No one wants to build a well in Eritrea or Ethiopia to assist in a COIN fight in order to win the hearts and minds. What we do want is to build the well to win the hearts and minds in order to avoid the COIN fight that is due shortly. Infrastructure regeneration and particularly the implementation of LSF, or Local Security Forces is difficult on its own, let alone with a regional insurgency attacking your recruitment and training sites. If OIF/OEF was the first battle and lessons learned where “we” as a global community cut our teeth, then Africa, and south-east Asia / Latin America to a lesser extent will be first attempt to incorporate our real vision of warfare without war.
GCOIN is rarely viewed as what it is. Most pundits and critics will assume that there is a military application which consists solely of combat and then there are the enemy of the military such as the Department of State, US AID, international NGOs and our global allies and partners. What is failed to be realized is that the end game goal is peace and prosperity. Peace & Prosperity will not be reached without stability. Stability will not be reached without Security. Security will not be attained until conflict ends, and ends everywhere. Much as there is no longer a true Infantry, there is no longer a true Military nor true Civilian. There may be two sides to this COIN; however it’s still the same COIN. You can pick heads or tails, but you are still playing the game.