“There will always be wars and rumors of war.”
It would appear that Jesus Christ saw wars as a regular, if negative, part of life and the Gospels contain a parable of two related to war, so I would doubt that Jesus would see anything irregular about warfare. However, the Department of Defense felt that some wars are not as regular as others, and in Department of Defense Directive (DoDD 3000.07, December 1, 2008 (see link), defined irregular warfare as “A violent struggle among states and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population(s). Irregular warfare favors indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it may employ the full range of military and other capacities, in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence and will.”
Non-state actor is the factor that separates irregular war (IW) from the run of the mill variety. The definitions in DoDD 3000.07 imply that a focus on civilian population distinguishes IW from traditional warfare. However, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Sherman’s march to the sea were focused on civilian populations, as were the 8th USAAF and RAF Bomber Command attacks on major German civilian population centers in WWII and our bombing campaigns against Hanoi. These were all acts by state actors during traditional wars, so I think the focus really is on the non-state actors.
The Geneva Conventions speak to non-state actors in as much as they apply to “conflicts not of an international character,” so the law of armed conflict does not change in regards to a military’s responsibilities towards civilian populations under their control. (See links at right.) So what does Civil Affairs do differently in IW vice regular war? That is a good question, one that the Civil Affairs Association will consider at its 58th annual conference, where it will address “the role of Civil Affairs personnel, units, and policy in irregular warfare.” In May of this year the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities (ASD (SO/LIC&IC)) briefed that “the nature of irregular warfare (CT, UW, FID, COIN & SO) is indeed “population focused” operations, then we must consider the implications for civil affairs; one of the few capabilities within DoD that specifically focuses on foreign civilian populations.” I would like to share some of the highlights of what ASD (SO/LIC&IC) briefing and solicit some responses on the issue of how CA supports IW.
Counter-terrorism (CT) Operations that include the offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, preempt, and respond to terrorism. (JP 3-05) If I take out the words offensive measures from the DoD definition of CT, I can imagine lots of ways CA can undermine local popular support for terrorist networks, such as our support to FID in the Philippines. ASD (SO/LIC&IC) suggested “For example, civil affairs functional specialists with expertise in the areas of banking and law enforcement can assist DoD efforts to educate HN security forces in methods to combat terrorist financial operations.” This may be true, but our FBI and DOJ, who have offices in US embassies worldwide, are far more likely to have this expertise. I agree with ASD (SO/LIC&IC) remarks that “civil affairs forces should train and equip other HN forces in Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) to ensure HN forces are prepared to immediately respond with appropriate levels of aid following a specific CT operation. Without such civil-military components to CT operations, terrorist organizations will likely strengthen their influence over relevant populations as was witnessed in Lebanon in 2006.” and “CT operations that cause unnecessary collateral damage risk alienating the relevant populations, de-legitimizing the host nation and or US , and may produce effects that are counter to our campaign objectives. Civil affairs can help mitigate such effects.” More importantly, senior CA officers should sit on targeting boards where they can influence whether or not we risk needlessly killing innocent civilians in our attempts to bag relatively low-value targets. Such ill-informed CT strikes only serve to recruit for the Taliban.
Unconventional Warfare (UW) ASD (SO/LIC&IC) suggested that CA could support UW by conduct “civil reconnaissance in advance of future UW operations to include human terrain mapping and civil information management.” And suggested that our CA conduct civil-military operations (CMO) in and around “safe havens” used by US forces and help plan and support the transition phase of UW campaigns. ASD (SO/LIC&IC) noted that these tasks would require that CA should leverage ongoing social science programs and increase the level of social science analysis in the curriculum of the CA course. I think these suggestions make imminent sense. I would like to opine that we would never undermine another sovereign government, but as one State Department officer informed me, he conducted UW against the Taliban while serving on a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).
Foreign Internal Defense (FID) ASD (SO/LIC&IC) noted “Civil Affairs functional specialists with backgrounds in the areas of justice, law enforcement and corrections can provide additional depth to these DoD sponsored advisory missions and associated Security Sector Reform missions. However, these CA functional specialists require some additional training in the principals of development and Security Sector Reform (SSR).” A valid statement, but most of our CA functional specialists will have backgrounds in US justice, law enforcement and corrections. Special care is needed to ensure that we don’t foist a corrections system that Californians can’t afford on Afghans, etc. Similarly, our justice system is very different from those found in Europe and Asia and may not be the right answer for a country fighting a radical Islamic insurgency. The British are championed as experts in COIN and oft cited for their overwhelming use of police vice military to defeat communist insurgents in Malaya. However, the police employed by the British did not carry Miranda cards, nor were they bound by the strict rules of evidence that our police are accustomed to.
Counterinsurgency (COIN). ASD (SO/LIC&IC) notes that “Organizational models such as the Provincial Reconstruction teams provide a contemporary model for civil-military teaming in support of COIN. However, there remains a need for more formal civil-military teaming concepts. . . as with Counter-terrorism, civil affairs can contribute to methods for countering insurgent networks and their associated communications and financial systems. To conduct COIN, DoD requires “interdependent joint force/interagency packages proficient in performing large-scale, civil-military operations needed to defeat irregular threats and conduct stability operations, thus enabling/transitioning to civil authorities. Civil affairs forces are logical components for such civil-military teaming concepts. However, such models will require a reevaluation of joint civil affairs doctrine and organizational concepts for civil-military operations at the operational/theater level.” Basically, recognizes that a lot more CA is needed, and this is one reason we are building to ten AC CA battalions in two brigades while growing USAR CA by one more brigade. One suggestion is to make a CA company organic to each AC and ARNG brigade combat team (BCT) and use the USAR CA force for echelon above BCT, to include civil-military teaming in Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) or Forward Advanced Civilian Teams.
Stability Operations (SO) (As Steve Henthorne of CCOE (link at right) says, the other side of COIN) ASD (SO/LIC&IC) advocates for more training for USAR CA functional specialists, CA planners permanently assigned to Combatant Command staffs and more “CERP-like” authorities and funds, and that CA assets should be more often in conflict prevention and persistent presence roles as well as ongoing fights in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are all good recommendations.
I think that overall ASD (SO/LIC&IC) made some excellent recommendations that though they will take time and money (a lot less than a half-dozen more F22s) will serve our Nation well in preventing and fighting IW as well as traditional war. I look forward to hearing more about how CA can support IW at the 58th Civil Affairs Conference and I look forward to questions and comments on this posting.