Nov 6, 2017 in Politics

Counterinsurgency and the Human Terrain in Afghanistan

Abstract

This paper explores the issue of counterinsurgency and the Human Terrain in Afghanistan during a significant counterinsurgency campaign of 2001, started as a response to the acts of terrorism of September 11th. The goal of the paper is to identify the concepts of insurgency and counterinsurgency and discuss the advantages and drawbacks of U.S. military activities. This research work focuses on counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine and traces its basic functions. The paper gives a short review of the US Army Counterinsurgency Field, putting a particular emphasis on Chapter 3 that highlights the issue of intelligence in counterinsurgency operations. Comparing insurgency and counterinsurgency, the research work studies features of their nature, and it regards their peculiarities at different stages of the war. The issues of an attractive goal and propaganda and the importance of their interception by the insurgent or counterinsurgent are observed. The paper discusses the Human Terrain System (HTS) launched by the U.S. Military in 2007 and draw attention to ethical problems this program has caused. The research work examines a great range of sources, including the U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual, books and Internet articles to explain the current events and the prospect of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan using COIN strategies and the ethical dilemmas of involving anthropologists in COIN.

Keywords: counterinsurgency, insurgency, the Human Terrain System

Counterinsurgency and the Human Terrain in Afghanistan

Introduction

During the last decade, the United States has provided a significant counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan. It started as the response to the events of 11 September 2001 and became a vast support for the Afghanistan authorities, as well as other friendly governments in freedom-oriented countries. The goal of the military activities was to destroy the Taliban terrorist groups and to stabilize the situation in the country. Nevertheless, the statement about the counterinsurgency of the former commander of all US Forces in Afghanistan in May 2010 sparkled lively debates over the issue. Many researchers and policy-makers support the former commander and raise the question about the expediency of this counterinsurgency. Their opponents claim that the counterinsurgency doctrine is extremely effective and it can achieve a successful result in Afghanistan. The second subject to these everlasting debates is the issue of the ethics of recruitment from the universities, including students and professors, for the US military's "Human Terrain Systems" project whose work will be used in the counterinsurgency doctrine. The journalists, researches and policy makers cannot come to the common conclusion.

The debates over the COIN (the US counterinsurgency doctrine) are connected with the military events in Afghanistan, overlooking basic "intellectual and political misunderstandings and miscalculations at the core of the policy"(Moore, 2012).

COIN and Ethical Implications of HTS

COIN Doctrine

According to United States government interagency counterinsurgency initiative, "counterinsurgency (COIN) is the blend of comprehensive civilian and military efforts designed to simultaneously contain insurgency and address its root causes" (United States government interagency counterinsurgency initiative, 2009, p.2).

The COIN model performs five major functions: political, economic, security, information and the function of control. The political function is the main function, dealing with political reconciliation and reform of governance. The economic function considers vital services and encourages long- term economic growth. The security function "involves development not just of the affected nation's military force, but its whole security sector, including the related legal framework, civilian oversight mechanisms and judicial system" (U.S. Government counterinsurgency guide, 2009, p.3). The information function includes intelligence strategy for understanding and influence for development the affected government's goal. The control function is the final function checking the overall objective "from intervening forces to national forces and from military to civil institutions" (U.S. Government counterinsurgency guide, 2009, p.3).

COIN doctrine means basic principles for military activities in a counterinsurgency environment. "It is ... designed to merge traditional approaches to COIN with the realities of a new international arena shaped by technological advances, globalization, and the spread of extremist ideologies" (Counterinsurgency, 2006). The doctrine claims that the USA has significant military superiority. This feature "has pushed its enemies to fight U.S. forces unconventionally, mixing modern technology with ancient techniques of insurgency and terrorism"(Counterinsurgency, 2006). Chapter 1 depicts key ideas necessary for successful COIN operations. Chapter 2 examines nonmilitary institutions involved in COIN operations and basic rules of integration of military and civilian activities. Chapter 3 describes certain intelligence peculiarities of COIN operations. Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 study the arrangement and application of the above-mentioned activities. Chapter 6 studies the development of host-nation security forces and vital issues of successful COIN operations. Chapter 7 focuses on leadership and ethical concerns. Chapter 8 deals with sustainment of COIN operations. There are 5 appendixes in the manual that study major factors to regard during the planning and implementation of COIN operations (Appendix A), supply additional intelligence information (Appendixes B and C), provide legal requirements (Appendix D) and depict the role of airpower (Appendix E) (Counterinsurgency, 2006).

Chapter 3 is of vital importance in the COIN doctrine, emphasizing that success of the enterprises comes from good intelligence. It distinguished the key intelligence characteristics in counterinsurgency, focuses on pre-deployment planning and intelligence preparation of the battlefield, depicts the effects of the operational environment, describes threat courses of action. Chapter 3 examines such vital issues as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations, counterintelligence and counter reconnaissance, all -source intelligence, intelligence collaboration. The main idea of Chapter 3 is "what makes intelligence analysis for COIN so distinct and so challenging is the amount of socio-cultural information that must be gathered and understood" (Counterinsurgency, 2006, p.3-35).

Theoretical Structure of Counterinsurgency and Insurgency

Insurgency and counterinsurgency are two sides of an internal war, two opponents fighting for power in the country. Insurgents make attempt to seize legitimacy and overthrow the government, the counterinsurgents are obliged to hold on power and public order (Gordon, 2006).

There are various definitions of the counterinsurgency. This phenomena can be defined as "political and military strategy or action intended to oppose and forcefully suppress insurgency" (The American Heritage Dictionary, 2003). The other researches explain it as "action taken by a government to counter the activities of rebels, guerillas, etc." (Collins English Dictionary, 2003). Their colleagues add that counterinsurgency is "a program or an act of combating guerilla warfare and subversion" (Random House, 2010). The official definition of the counterinsurgency is "comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and addresses its root causes" (U.S. Government counterinsurgency guide, 2009, p.12).

A revolutionary war is mainly connected with a country's own violent situation. Nevertheless, outside influence made its effect on the events in the country in certain way.

Insurgency is one of the three ways to take power by violent action. Insurgency can be defined as "a protracted struggle conducted methodically, step by step, in order to attain specific intermediate objectives leading finally to the overthrow of the existing order" (Galula, 2006, p.2). There is another definition of the insurgency considering it as "the organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region" (U.S. Government counterinsurgency guide, 2009, p.6). In fact, insurgency cannot be forecast as well as a revolution. It starts so indistinctly that makes it a problematic task to calculate its beginning exactly (Galula, 2006, p.2). Growing gradually, insurgency does not happen unexpectedly. Its leaders head a large number of people and move them (Galula, 2006, p.2). In fact, an insurgency means a civil war. Although, certain difference in the form of war can be observed. To illustrate, a civil war unexpectedly divides all the people in a country into several groups, accounting from two and more. After a short period of chaos, these groups have power over the territory and the army. The violent conflict between the above-mentioned groups is similar to a typical international war, taking into account that the opponents are the citizens of one country (Galula, 2006, p.3).

The insurgent aspires to make a chaos in the country that helps it to destroy the economy of the country and, therefore, to produce a feeling of dissatisfaction among the masses. These activities make the authority of the counterinsurgent less effective (Galula, 2006, p.3). On the contrary, the counterinsurgent is responsible for maintaining order that is much more complicated task. "The ratio of expenses between him and the insurgent is high. It may be ten or twenty to one, or higher" (Galula, 2006, p.7). The insurgent causes the situation of disorder and use the terrorism and guerilla warfare.

The insurgent is not fixed, lacking responsibility and values. To illustrate, in summer 2007, the Taliban tried to use a boy as a suicide bomber. The child informed that he was send to the District Center to die while trying to kill other people with the bomb. This boy was an orphan and he had no one to help him. The official noted that the Taliban uses the orphans as suicide bombers (Human Terrain Teams, 2010).

On the contrary, the counterinsurgent is stiff, because it appreciates certain beliefs and the duty to help the citizens of the country. "If the counterinsurgent wanted to rid himself of his rigidity, he would have to renounce to some extent his claim to the effective rule of the country, or dispose of his concrete assets" (Galula, 2006, p.7). The insurgent is not restricted in accepting or refusing a fight, unlike the counterinsurgency that is limited in its actions by its responsibility. Although, only the counterinsurgency can apply considerable means, owning them alone. Such characteristics as fluidity of the insurgency and rigidity of the counterinsurgency are provided by the nature of war activities. In the case of the insurgent, the war operations are primitive, causing chaos until it gets a political control of a country. As for the counterinsurgency, its actions are not simple, being caused by conflicting requirements and the authorities coordinating all the components of its army. The counterinsurgent is obliged to defend the country's population and economy and to attack the forces of the insurgent. It is bounded by the responsibility to submit to its Command. Unlike its opponent, the counterinsurgent cannot provide a fluid and simple organization or delegate its initiative (Galula, 2006, p.8).

The insurgent needs an attractive goal to draw people's attention to its activities and find its supporters among the population. The statement of this goal is of prime importance at the start. Under the circumstances of emerging two explosive but hostile goals of the insurgent and the counterinsurgent may lead to the civil war instead of the insurgency. Under the circumstances of existing of one goal, there is a struggle for the ideology. If the insurgent succeeds in its interception, the power of the ideology will give it the priority. Nevertheless, this statement is correct at the beginning of the conflict. During the following stages, the success of war activities is of prime importance, and the original cause does not play a significant role (Galula, 2006, p.8).

The attitude of the population in the middle stage of the war activities depends on the feelings of safety. People estimate the primitive conditions, such as the protection, the degree of danger from each side, the success of the opponents in the war (Galula, 2006, p.8).

Propaganda is a powerful weapon in the struggle for political power. The insurgent, lacking responsibility, can use every opportunity to cause chaos. In the situation of strong necessity, he can extend false information, being not forced to prove. The insurgent is estimated by his statements, without taking into account his activity and the result of it. Therefore, propaganda is of prime importance for this side. In fact, the insurgent can win lacking effective policy, but providing a vast propaganda campaign (Galula, 2006, p.8).

On getting power, the insurgent has large regular forces, causing a civil war. Under the circumstances, both sides control certain national territory, directing blow at the opponent. If the insurgent realizes his strategy properly, the revolutionary war will never transform into a conventional type.

On the one hand, the developing of regular forces by the insurgent does not mean the final part of his subversion. Moreover, the guerilla intensify their activity to "facilitate the operations of the regular army and to amplify their effects" (Galula, 2006, p.9). On the other hand, the insurgent entailed the country's population at the beginning of his activity. The active involvement of the population was an essential condition of its victory. As long as the masses support him, the insurgent can dictate.

The above-mentioned features of war activities are the inevitable peculiarities of the revolutionary war. Both an insurgent and a counterinsurgent consider them, leading a war. Otherwise, their activities would be a failure.

There are several peculiarities of the influence of the insurgent movement on the country's population. The charisma of insurgent leaders can be more significant than propaganda in drawing masses' attention and convincing the country's population to join the insurgent movement. Some members of the above-mentioned movement, unemployed youth particularly, is more interested in getting financial reward than the insurgent ideology. The vital expectations of the masses may have little in common with the ideology of the insurgent. Nevertheless, they may be exploited as a key support. The sympathizes may not be well-informed about the major issues of the insurgent ideology. In tribal societies the support of a certain tribe can lead to tribal rivals supporting the insurgent (U.S. Government counterinsurgency guide, 2009 p.3).

To gain the popularity among the country's population, insurgents may involve a mix of a persuasion, subversion and coercion. Persuasion is the effective means promoting the insurgent ideology. Nevertheless, it may supply financial award, vital social services, control of the territory, or certain positions of authority. The insurgent may manipulate "elements of religious, tribal, ethnic or local identity that resonate with some subset of the target population" (U.S. Government counterinsurgency guide, 2009, p.9).

Subversion means the insurgent activities to undermine and disrupt the country's authorities. The insurgents may penetrate into the government institutions and organizations. Moreover, they often exploit rival power structures or criminal networks to get the power in the country. In fact, these special methods and techniques are extremely effective in the territories with weal government services.

Coercion is a means of the mobilization of support. Depending on the ability of the state army to defend the population, coercion can increase or replace persuasion. Insurgent are interested in forcing community leaders to support certain sides in the conflict. To achieve their goal, the insurgents may cause violent actions to intimidate or remove their opponents. The insurgents use weapons against government infrastructure to undermine the authorities' moral and to decrease its power over the affected territories. The insurgents actively use propaganda, describing the acts of violence and depicting the government as weak and helpless structure.

Manipulating the ethnic beliefs, the insurgents may exploit the sense of identity to direct the masses against the government. Finally, the insurgents may cause excessive authorities action against the population that would lead to death and injury. As a result, the masses would be hostile towards the government " (U.S. Government counterinsurgency guide, 2009, p.10).

Disadvantages of Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

As for drawbacks of the counterinsurgency, the major of them are difficulties with the control of the territory under the circumstances of the Taliban's terroristic attacks and severe geographical conditions. To illustrate, in September 2006, NATO military planners calculated that for providing successful counterinsurgency in Afghanistan they need more troops, approximately 2,500. In December 2009, President Obama made a decision of significant rise in the amount of the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, in Kabul, Afghan authorities did not control the rural areas of RC-South that led to "corruption from the booming opium trade pervaded every level of government" (Nagil & Weitz, 2010, p.7). The Taliban increased its forces through intimidation tactics and executions, causing violence on the entire country's territory. NATO's experience in Afghanistan was unacceptable. Terrorism and violence caused by native population increased (Nagl, & Weitz, 2010, p.17).

Analyzing the drawbacks of the U.S.-led military activities in Afghanistan, Bing West claimed that counterinsurgency transformed into a Sisyphean mission(Sims, Lujan, West, 2012). Although, he adds that the real problem of the failure is not in the nature of the counterinsurgency doctrine, but in the wrong way of its implementation. West highlights that the U.S. military policy-makers should not forget the idea of the counterinsurgency, but they should reconsider its key principles and control its proper application. At first, West states that "the Western handouts have led to a culture of entitlement in Afghanistan, which, in turn, has bred opportunism rather than patriotism or a desire for self-improvement" (Sims, Lujan, West, 2012). In fact, international aid, provided for Afghanistan, was approximately 90 percent of the total country's GDP. The soldiers give this aid to the children as a sign of goodwill. Nevertheless, the similar actions do not correspond to the major principles of the counterinsurgency doctrine. Fir instance, involving children contradicts the advice of David Kilcullen in his work "Twenty-eight Articles" that establishes the key ideas of counterinsurgency. He argues that in relations with local population, foreign army should involve the women, avoiding the children. The children are acute and, lacking sympathy, can commit crimes that adults wouldn't do (Sims, Lujan, West, 2012).

The Human Terrain System as an Extremely Controversial Project

Being launched by the U.S. Military in February 2007, the Human Terrain System (HTS) project became the subject to lively debates in autumn 2007(AAA opposes U.S. military's human terrain system project, n.d.). The Human Terrain System (HTS) is a special plan, dealing with "cultural perceptions by attaching anthropological research teams to combat units in Afghanistan" (Lawrence, 2009). Cultural heritage insight is the core element of human terrain (Rush, Laurie, Bogdanos, & Matthew, 2009). The Pentagon provided the Human Terrain System to include social scientists, anthropologists particularly, in military units in Afghanistan in 2007 (Toomley, 2008).

The ethics of anthropologists in the U.S. teams has been the key issue of debates in scientific communities. Approximately a year before the launch of the HTS, a special commission of the AAA was founded to study ethical and procedural issues dealing with the US security and intelligence societies. The commission examined the subject and its conclusions outlined in the final report to the AAA Executive Board. This document is neutral in its nature towards the engagement, but encourages a public dialogue on the issue. In autumn 2007, the AAA Executive Board rendered its verdict on the US Military's HTS project. It focused on the fact that the HTS project goes against the AAA the AAA Code of Ethics highlighting that researchers do not harm to subjects of their scientific activities (AAA opposes U.S. Military's Human Terrain system, n.d.). The journalists and researches argue that Human Terrain System make scholars spies. In fact, their researches may use to manipulate native population, denying the key issue of anthropologists' ethics- "do not harm".

Therefore, the American Anthropological Association banned the program in 2007, raising the question about the effectiveness of HTS and calling it dangerous and useless. The representatives of scientific circles claim that "sending socialscientiststo study local populations in the company of armed troops amid active hostilities will not produce scientifically reliable information" (Anthropologists and the Human Terrain System, 2012). HTS ban advocates argue that ethics is the smallest problem of this program. "Aside from being a multimillion white elephant without a shred of evidence that it does what it purports to do, it is poorly managed, wracked by internal strife, and far too expensive to justify the mediocre research results it produces"(Anthropologists and the Human Terrain System, 2012).

Conclusions

To sum up, during the last decade, the USA a significant counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan. It was the response to the terroristic acts of 11 September 2001. The goal of the military activities was to destroy the Taliban terrorist groups and to stabilize the situation in the country. Nevertheless, the statement about the counterinsurgency of the former commander of all US Forces in Afghanistan in May 2010 sparkled lively debates over the issue.

The COIN model performs five major functions: political, economic, security, information and the function of control. COIN doctrine means basic principles for military activities in a counterinsurgency environment. COIN manual consists of 8 manuals and five appendixes. Chapter 3 is of vital importance in the COIN doctrine, emphasizing that success of the enterprises comes from good intelligence.

Insurgency and counterinsurgency are two sides of an internal war, two opponents fighting for power in the country. Insurgents make attempt to seize legitimacy and overthrow the government, the counterinsurgents are obliged to hold on power and public order.

There are many definitions of the counterinsurgency. It can be defined as "political and military strategy or action intended to oppose and forcefully suppress insurgency", "action taken by a government to counter the activities of rebels, guerillas", "a program or an act of combating guerilla warfare and subversion", or "comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and addresses its root causes ".

Insurgency is one of the three ways to take power by violent action. Insurgency can be defined as "a protracted struggle conducted methodically, step by step, in order to attain specific intermediate objectives leading finally to the overthrow of the existing order", "the organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region". The insurgent aspires to make a chaos in the country that helps it to destroy the economy of the country and, therefore, to produce a feeling of dissatisfaction among the masses. The insurgent is not fixed, lacking responsibility and values. On the contrary, the counterinsurgent is stiff, because it appreciates certain beliefs and the duty to help the citizens of the country. The insurgent needs an attractive goal to draw people's attention to its activities and find its supporters among the population. The statement of this goal is of prime importance at the start. Under the circumstances of emerging two explosive but hostile goals of the insurgent and the counterinsurgent may lead to the civil war instead of the insurgency. The attitude of the population in the middle stage of the war activities depends on the feelings of safety. Propaganda is a powerful weapon in the struggle for political power. The insurgent, lacking responsibility, can use every opportunity to cause chaos. In the situation of strong necessity, he can extend false information, being not forced to prove. On getting power, the insurgent has large regular forces, causing a civil war. Under the circumstances, both sides control certain national territory, directing blow at the opponent. If the insurgent realizes his strategy properly, the revolutionary war will never transform into a conventional type.

On the one hand, the developing of regular forces by the insurgent does not mean the final part of his subversion. To gain the popularity among the country's population, insurgents may involve a mix of a persuasion, subversion and coercion. As for drawbacks of the counterinsurgency, the major of them are difficulties with the control of the territory under the circumstances of the Taliban's terroristic attacks and severe geographical conditions.

Analyzing the drawbacks of the U.S.-led military activities in Afghanistan, Bing West claimed that counterinsurgency transformed into a Sisyphean mission. Although, he adds that the real problem of the failure is not in the nature of the counterinsurgency doctrine, but in the wrong way of its implementation. The main idea is that the U.S. military policy-makers should not forget the idea of the counterinsurgency, but they should reconsider its key principles and control its proper application.

The second subject to the lively debate is the Human Terrain System (HTSIt was launched by the U.S. Military in February 2007. The Human Terrain System (HTS) is a special plan, dealing with "cultural perceptions by attaching anthropological research teams to combat units in Afghanistan". On the one hand, this program seems to be extremely beneficial, considering the human factor of the country under control. Nevertheless, the journalists and researches argue that Human Terrain System make scholars spies. In fact, their researches may use to manipulate native population, denying the key issue of anthropologists' ethics- "do not harm".

Taking into account all the above -mentioned information, the rational way out of the situation emerges: the U.S. military forces can still overcome negative situation and drawbacks of its COIN and HTS. To achieve the goal, it is necessary to calculate and implement wise counterinsurgency strategy and change the policy "kill and capture" to allow the counterinsurgency to work.

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