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April 26, 2007
20% military, 80% politicalBy Greyhawk
If that version of the 80/20 rule (there are others: 20% of the people do 80% of the work, 20% of the people cause 80% of the problems) it looks like the odds for getting things done favor the politicians.
It's certainly become one of Senator Harry Reid's favorite sound bites:
BASH: The phrase "the war is lost" really touched a nerve.That's different than saying it's lost (unless Senator Reid knows full well that the "80% political" component is going to devote it's efforts to destroying the "20% military").
But while I was already familiar with the Generals comment that you can't kill all the bad guys - some must be "reconciled"...:
GEN. PETRAEUS: With respect, again, to the -- you know, the idea of the reconcilables and the irreconcilables, this is something in which the Iraqi government obviously has the lead. It is something that they have sought to -- in some cases, to reach out. And I think, again, that any student of history recognizes that there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq. Military action is necessary to help improve security, for all the reasons that I stated in my remarks, but it is not sufficient....I wasn't certain on the origin of the specific 80-20 remark. Senator Reid seems to have used it more times in one interview than the General has in the past several months.
In fact, here's an obscure Fall, 2006 interview (Source here - hat tip: A Jacksonian) that might be the first. In discussing the (then) forthcoming Field Manual on Counterinsurgency, (Petraeus oversaw it's creation) the Interviewer prompts a discussion:
I: I wanted to get to the idea that counterinsurgency is 20-percent military, 80-percent political and sort of how that plays out.And the General responded:
R: Well that’s a--a common feature of counter-insurgency literature and--and Doctrine and has--has been for years. But it--well it’s--it’s from David Galula’s classic book, which in fact is read by all of the students at the Command and General Staff College, where I might add we had gone from having about five-percent of the curriculum of the average Command and General Staff College student covering counter-insurgency to over 40-percent and even higher depending on the electives. But Galula’s book--a number of others all certainly and you can certainly debate whether the percentage is 20/80 or 30/70 or who knows what but--but clearly there has to be a primacy of the political aspects. At the end of the day that’s what this is about--it is about helping another nation in this case forge a sense of political community, of unity, of moving forward together and then improving in the economic realm, improving in the realm of basic services, improving in terms of--of security, of justice, and all of the other aspects that any society aspires to enjoy.So now we have the General on record - and an earlier source. Since then the manual has been published and publicly released. Therein (page 1-22) we discover an even earlier source:
1-123. General Chang Ting-chen of Mao Zedong’s central committee once stated that revolutionary war was 80 percent political action and only 20 percent military. Such an assertion is arguable and certainly depends on the insurgency’s stage of development; it does, however, capture the fact that political factors have primacy in COIN. At the beginning of a COIN operation, military actions may appear predominant as security forces conduct operations to secure the populace and kill or capture insurgents; however, political objectives must guide the military’s approach. Commanders must, for example, consider how operations contribute to strengthening the HN government’s legitimacy and achieving U.S. political goals. This means that political and diplomatic leaders must actively participate throughout the conduct (planning, preparation, execution, and assessment) of COIN operations. The political and military aspects of insurgencies are so bound together as to be inseparable. Most insurgent approaches recognize that fact. Military actions executed without properly assessing their political effects at best result in reduced effectiveness and at worst are counterproductive. Resolving most insurgencies requires a political solution; it is thus imperative that counterinsurgent actions do not hinder achieving that political solution.And in the notes:
para 1-123. …revolutionary war was 80 percent political action and only 20 percent military: cited in David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (1964; reprint New York: Praeger, 2005), 89 (hereafter cited as Galula); …he was involved with establishing special schools…: Walter Sullivan, “China’s Communists Train Political Corps to Aid Army,” The New York Times, 4 Jul 1949.Anyhow, while that source in Communist Chinese revolutionary doctrine renders the concept no less valid (and there's nothing wrong with adopting conceptual elements of foundations of strategy that may be applicable regardless of source), it might explain both General Petraeus' reluctance to emphasize that specific point in public (I can find no other citations - perhaps others can), and Senator Reid's seizure of the concept and endless repetition thereof. And while Reid isn't citing the original author either, clearly he - or someone on his staff - is an expert to at least that level of detail on either Counterinsurgency or Revolution, or both.
But on which are they focused? Given that Reid appears to be using his part of the 80% against the General's 20, I'm afraid I know the answer.
Related: If you're interested in what President Bush, General Petraeus, and Senator Reid actually have to say on military/political ops, start here.
Posted by Greyhawk / April 26, 2007 1:20 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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