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H. Thomas Hayden: Counterinsurgency not Occupation
H. Thomas Hayden: Counterinsurgency not Occupation

 

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About the Author

H. Thomas Hayden was formerly the President and CEO of First Communications Company (FCC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a joint venture between Raytheon and a Saudi Company involved in Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) Systems for the Ministry of Defense and Aviation, Saudi Arabian National Guard and Ministry of Interior. Before retiring from the US Marine Corps, assignments included Commanding Officer (CO), Headquarters and Service Bn, 1st Force Service Support Group, which deployed to the Gulf War, CO Brigade Service Support Group – 9, which deployed to Somalia and CO MAU Service Support Group – 33, which deployed to The Philippines and Korea. He was Branch Head, Headquarters Marine Corps, Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC), and Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for SO/LIC with assignments to Central America. He has participated in combat operations or contingency operations in the Republic of Vietnam, Central America, Gulf War, Somalia, and Colombia. Tom has a MBA, MA in International Relations, and a PhD candidate in Business Management. He is the author of two books and is currently writing a third: SHADOW WAR: Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict; WARFIGHTING: Maneuver Warfare in the US Marine Corps. He has published over 40 articles and has been awarded the Navy League’s Alfred Thayer Mahan award for literary achievement.

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Global Hotspot: Iraq

Terrorist Reference

November 18, 2003

[Have an opinion on this column? Sound off in the discussion forum.]


First of all, Iraq is not Vietnam and Iraqification is not Vietnamization.

Vietnam is a homogeneous society with almost 97% ethnic Vietnamese and Iraq is maybe 1/3 Shiite, 1/3 Sunni and 1/3 Kurd with a mixture of Sunnis and Shiites cross-pollinating about 1/2 of the country.

Vietnamization was a "bug out" strategy for Kissinger to help the US look like it was winning and turn over the fight to the Vietnamese. What he never told the world was that he agreed to leave over 150,000 North Vietnamese soldiers in the Republic of Vietnam and the so called "Paris Peace Accords" were doomed to failure before the ink was dry on the signed document.

"Iraqification," according to THE WASHINGTON POST, is something like "abandonment." Unfortunately, it was abandonment in Vietnam but most certainly may not be the case in Iraq.

The major problem in understanding what is going on in Iraq is that many in the Administration do not understand that the "coalition" strategy must change from a paradigm of "occupation" to "counterinsurgency."

Occupation forces have not converted to counterinsurgency forces and the U.S. political and military leaders in the theater may not have any idea of how to do it under the current circumstances.

The "iron glove" cannot replace the "velvet glove" to win against an insurgency.

Counterinsurgency requires a balanced approach for mobilizing and developing the threatened society, securing the population and resources, and neutralizing the insurgents.

The most promising historical comparison is the British experience in Malaysia.

In Malaya, although the majority of the population came from the Chinese population of two million, there were about 1.5 million Malays and a significant small group that normally fits into a category of "other."

It should be of no surprise that the Malayan Communist Party was mostly Chinese which grew immensely in numbers after the Chinese revolutionary victory in China in 1949. The key to victory in Malaysia was to separate the Chinese Communist from the neutral Chinese, the Malays and the "others."

But that is another story.

By the way, the Malayan Chinese Communist were originally supported by the British to fight Japanese occupation. Why is that indigenous forces are always most active to fight an "occupation?"

It took two years of trial and error for the British to get it right in Malaysia. However, in 1950, a retired general was appointed as the High Commissioner's Director of Operations. General Briggs set up civil/military councils in every state and district on which sat the local police, and the "British military," under the chairmanship of a senior officer of the "Administration" authorities.

This is what a counterinsurgency is all about.



It is a civil/military campaign with security being the first priority and development being the second. Hand in glove with security is "intelligence." Intelligence comes from the indigenous population and not the "occupying powers."

In Iraq, Intelligence will come more easily if the Iraqis are part of the civil/military campaign plan with Iraqi police and other security forces carrying most of the "security" responsibilities and not the "coalition" occupying powers.

It is NOT that the President Bush Administration has lost the confidence in the earlier plan to dictate a civil government and a constitution to the Iraqis; however, someone has seen the light, even thought they may not understand what they have done, that may just do the trick and turn the tide in favor of U.S. foreign policy.

The counterinsurgency program in Vietnam form 1968-1973, called Revolutionary Development, or that dreaded term "pacification," was highly successful in ridding the Republic of Vietnam of "insurgents" until the North Vietnamese Army had to take on all the fight and ultimately won the "conventional war."

It is a counterinsurgency and not an occupation policy that is needed in Iraq and maybe we may now see the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel."

[Have an opinion on this article? Sound off here.]

© 2003 H. Thomas Hayden. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.


 



 



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