THE TRIBAL COIN OF THE REALM
- entry corrected, my apologies to Colonel McCallister and thanks to Dave for the clarification]Dave Dilegge
, editor of The Small Wars Journal
has an excellent post up at The SWJ Blog
entitled "COIN in a Tribal Society
", relaying the contents of an email from Colonel William (Mac) McCallister
(USA Ret.), currently an adivser with II MEF in Iraq. A very rich bibilographic entry, McCallister hits hard at the point of our general failure to communicate our words and deeds in a culturally relevant and comprehensible frame:
"The design and execution of a counterinsurgency campaign in tribal society must reflect the opponent’s cultural realities, his social norms and conventions of war and peacemaking. The fight in Anbar province is a “clash of martial cultures” and reflects two divergent concepts of victory and defeat and “rules of play”. The conventions of war and peace for both sides are based on unique historical and social experience and are expressed in each side’s stylized way of fighting and peacemaking. The central tenet in the design and execution of counterinsurgency operations is that it must take into consideration an opponent’s cultural realities so as to effectively communicate intent.
The study of the “tribal terrain” is a challenge. The reason - comprehensive research materials on Iraqi tribal organization, tribal diplomacy, and the art of tribal war and peacemaking are sparse. The majority of reading materials therefore are general and regional in nature and require “reading between the lines” to gain an appreciation for tribal organizing principles, cultural operating codes, and the tribal art of war and peace. The material is intended to assist the student of the tribal art of war and peace in developing an analytic structure for assessing personal experiences, observations and unit after action reports. The ultimate objective is to assist the warfighter in assessing the effectiveness of counterinsurgency tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) and cultural criteria to determine why certain approaches succeed or fail
I will go one better; the United States government has not come to grips with the need to craft our diplomatic and strategic inititives with a multi-tiered and interactively complex set of audiences in mind. Too often, our leaders are playing primarily to the domestic American audience and then secondarily - and arguably a very distant second - a narrow and westernized foreign elite.
Radical transparency created by the internet and information technologies are breaking down the ability to compartmentalize messages and signals - the amplitude is higher and "broadcasting" can now take place far down the chain with strategic corporals in dusty villages instead of UN ambassadors across polished tables. The rules of the game are changing and we must change with it.ADDENDUM:Colonel W. Patrick Lang
" How to Work With Tribesmen
" (PDF)David Ronfeldt
-"In Search of How Societies Work: Tribes, the First and Forever Form
Labels: COIN, counterinsurgency, dilegge, diplomacy, iraq, radical transparency, small wars journal, swj blog