Combat Advising (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Counterinsurgency)

LoA.jpgDamn good column here from Small Wars Journal (pdf). A taste:

Combat advising is central to successful counterinsurgency operations in existing U.S. conflicts around the world. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates observed, The most important component in the War on Terror is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we enable and empower our partners to defend and govern their own countries.1 Similarly, in 2006 the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Field Manual (FM) 3-24, Counterinsurgency, identified the most critical task required to conduct effective counterinsurgency operations as, developing an effective host-nation security force.2 The importance of combat advising is not a new realization. In fact, major U.S. efforts in this area began in the early 1950s when U.S. forces provided training and assistance to Greece, the Philippines, China (Taiwan), Iran, and Japan. Since that time, protracted combat advising operations have occurred in Korea, Vietnam, and El Salvador.
The traditional arm of America's combat advising force, Special Forces A-Teams, are way overtasked at the moment. To compensate, we've been sticking officers in a combat advisor role that -honestly- have no business being there in the first place. The solution, to create a combat advisor command, pains me due to my severe bureaucracy aversion, but does make some sense from a training and sustainment point of view.Still, it seems as if combat advising is something that could be rolled into our Joint Special Operations Command. The initiative-fostering culture of our boys in black, as well as their equal aversion to chickenshit regulation and bloated command infrastructure, is precisely the right environment for this style of soft operations (think Lawerence of Arabia for the 21st century).--John Noonan
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