Friday, February 08, 2008


From our recent reading "Knowing the Enemy" from the December 2006 edition of the New Yorker it seems that disaggregation could be a word many of us will have to get used to.

Just as containment was the defining strategy of the Cold War, it appears disaggregation could be the defining strategy of and equally long "worldwide counterinsurgency" as defined by David Kilcullen.

In disaggregation, Kilcullen emphasizes that strategy should be specific to very local concerns. For instance, forces should be concentrated at the Pakistani border to keep insurgent ideology from bleeding into cross border regions or population centers.

Although the US is very good at "big, short wars" it is miserable at local counterinsurgencies because its focus is global and national. If the US wants to win this "long war" on terror it must take cues from past successes in Indonesia and Malaysia. Moreover, it must combine economic intervention with cultural knowledge to stem the spread of dangerous ideology much like it did quite accidentally in the humanitarian interventions in the Indonesian state of Aceh post tsunami.

If this new strategy does appear to be as successful as its potential demonstrates then disaggregation may be the next containment. Is it too much to ask then, if Kilcullen is the next Kennan?

In photo above:

First Lt. Nicholas Ziemba (far left), Capt. Blake Keil (left), Capt. Dustin Walker (center), and Maj. Matt Zimmerman (right rear), all of the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), out of Fort Drum, N.Y., spoke with Dr. David Kilcullen (right front), counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, at the Mahmudiyah Iraqi Army Compound June 3.


Montey Bukler said...

Interesting question. I'm curious about whether it's going to be left to the US to be the leader in disaggregation/COIN, or whether its really possible for a single nation to handle this strategy on a widespread, global theater.

If it is left to the US, can the US simultaneously conduct COIN operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere while also having forces available for other situations?

It's an interesting situation. Because we're the ones continually fighting wars, we're the ones continually testing strategies on the ground. Still, other authors point out how difficult it is for the US military, even the Marines who have successfully carried out COIN in the past, to learn and remember as an institution. Is disaggregation just one more strategy that the armed forces will be reluctant/unable to adopt?

Big 'un said...

Our memory is very short after all.