Last week, Defense Tech took a look at the Army's new field manual for Counterinsurgency Operations and how that guide seemed, at first blush, to be at odds with the assault on Fallujah.The story kicked up a nice little dust-up over on the new Defense Tech forum. One of the people who weighed in: Lt. Col. Jan Horvath, with the Army's Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate. He's the man who led the team that put together the counterinsurgency manual, "FM-I 3-07.22."Lt. Col. Horvath and I have traded e-mails a few times this week. I've parsed the conversation into a Q & A. In it, he's sometimes critical of U.S. operations in Iraq -- the Fallujah strike should have emphasized "operational secrecy and surprise," for example. But he finds a lot of good in how American troops are handling this ongoing guerilla war. DEFENSE TECH: Who put together this manual? And what is it supposed to be used for? Is it some kind of academic exercise, or does it really guide troops on the ground?JAN HORVATH: The FM-I is a collaborative product developed primarily by the U.S. Army but in collaboration with the USMC [U.S. Marine Corps], the [Army's] Special Warfare Center and the British Army.The FM-I is NOT academic. It applies lessons learned and tactics, techniques and procedures to articulate what we learned in Vietnam, El Salvador, Afghanistan and Iraq and what others learned in Colombia, and Northern Ireland. It is descriptive and not prescriptive. The FM-I recognizes each environment (and for that matter each day) is unique.I believe we all recognize doctrine has rarely ever been an American strength. However, the FM-I is just a good, first-draft for the field manual we are now writing.Did we miss anything? Of course, we only had five months to research and write it. What are we adding? An operational and theater strategic focus and guidelines, near state-of-the-art intelligence analysis, [and] principles for training indigenous security forces. Tactically, [we missed] the "swarm" attack, urban operations (going through walls rather than down the street); logistics, Intel[ligence] analysis, and the media and communications. After all, if counterinsurgency is a war of ideas, we better win the formulation and communication of those ideas.The Army refers to me as the author of FM-I 3-07.22 -- I am not. I am the leader of an informal, distributed, team that put the material together and then shaped it into a coherent (and what we regard as a useful) product.DT: But the manual is already being challenged, in some ways, by events in the field, right? For example, FM-I suggests commanders should "concentrate on elimination of the insurgents, not on terrain objectives" and "get counterinsurgency forces out of garrisons, cities, and towns." Doesn't the Fallujah attack run counter to these suggestions?JH: No, I do not believe the Fallujah attack runs counter to these recommendations. Why not? An imperative is to eliminate insurgent sanctuaries. Fallujah is the primary sanctuary from which most insurgent political direction emanated. The armed supporters of that specific counter-state had to be broken and eliminated. The political and ideological apparatus will be eliminated in Fallujah over the next 6 months.Our military's role is to secure the populace from insurgent violence and intimidation, therefore, influence. In securing the people, we must separate them from the insurgents. We do this by patrolling everywhere, talking with the people, and earning a modicum of trust. After all, we don't want anything from them... except information. Our very presence (on-the-spot) should disrupt the insurgents' influence and movements.We learned from an earlier misstep when we attacked the insurgents too soon in Samarra. Yes, we won. However, we left the area and did not remain to secure the local populace AND the police. The insurgents came back, attacked the police and intimidated their way back into authority. The next attack had to wait until the militia and police we were training were trained and capable of effectively defending the people and area, initially with our assistance, after our successful attack. Then, soldiers and militia attacked in the middle of the night together, and surprise and disruption reigned. We still own the people of Samarra, and the city is no longer a sanctuary.DT: So what do you see as the big issues ahead as the U.S. fights the Iraq insurgency?JH: Operationally, there are two issues. We must eliminate all sanctuaries, and we must permanently sever the lines-of-communication and supply from Syria through Ar-Ramadi to Baghdad -- darn near done. We did not do this in Vietnam.Second, we must effectively eliminate all enemy insurgents that will prevent or interfere with the Iraqi Govt establishing a strong presence in Fallujah that provides security for the residents while separating them permanently from the insurgents -- critical, and we are successfully creating those conditions.Tactically, we haven't used firepower to flatten Fallujah as we applied in Hue, Vietnam to destroy the VC [Viet Cong] battalions during Tet in 1968. We have used distributed, networked systems (drones and long-range surveillance, and eyeballs to ID where the enemy is followed by precision FA [field artillery] and tanks, LAVs [light armored vehicles], BFVs [Bradley Fighting Vehicles] and sniper and rifle fires to kill them.We should move along a city block by moving inside buildings and through walls more. However, more residents might have become injured. We must still find the two leaders of the Fallujah Muj[hadeen] -- an Imam and a Sheikh -- regardless of where they have fled in Iraq or Iran, and assist them in their rapid transition to Paradise.We [also] missed on the operational secrecy and surprise, but we will continue to tactically surprise. [FM-I counsels U.S. commanders to "emphasize secrecy and surprise" during their attacks. But the build-up to Fallujah was long and noisy -- ed.]Yes, we must still root out the counter-state infrastructure in Fallujah using population resource control. [That's a] mechanism to collect social and economic intelligence... The Nazi's Gestapo and the Eastern European communists were the best at this. Without becoming tainted or infected by their methods and attitudes, we have picked up some of their systems and processes.We rarely have an opportunity to plan and execute such operations -- this is exactly one of those opportunities. [It'll take] 6-12 months [for this to work].Otherwise, I appreciate our military leaders' application of the principles and common sense. They are smart enough to have teams following the soldiers to provide food and blankets, medical care, and basic services as well as turning power and water on in areas we have secured.We won't convince everybody overnight we mean them well, but we can provide a stark contrast -- deeds, not words. Fortunately, people will always demonstrate their intentions for us. What we must demonstrate very quickly is the Iraqi Government is legitimate, and we are not the same though our goals and objectives are complementary. Then perhaps, the Iraqi people can show us whether they have the capacity for freedom, or not.After all, freedom is never free.
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