Editor’s Note – Paul E. Vallely (MG US Army, ret.), founder of SUA has written extensively about the failure of the COIN Doctrine created by David Petraeus (Gen. US Army, Ret.). The correct way to fight America’s battles and wars is the “Lily Pad” Strategy – recipe for victory!
The following letter is further proof that COIN does not work. Instead, the “Lily Pad” strategy, once in wide use, a proven winner, was ignored and replaced by COIN and look at the disastrous results. “Nation Building” and “winning the hearts and minds” of the people is not a recipe for victory and is certainly not in the purview of any military strategy. You cannot rebuild unless the enemy is totally vanquished – “you cannot renovate one room in a house while the others are burning…”
Some key extracts
The COIN doctrine that does exist consists of musings from amateurs, contractors, plagiarized journal articles, etc. It is not professional and relevant because it does not reflect the studied body of best practice– the concepts it promotes, in fact, contribute to needless American casualties.
COIN has become such a restrictive dogma that it cannot be questioned; any professional discussion about its strengths and weaknesses is discouraged. It has reached such a crisis that those who employ other Army doctrinal concepts do so at their own professional peril because they will be subject to censure for not adhering to COIN. This has created a dysfunctional and toxic leadership throughout our army which has resulted in poor organization, unrealistic training and indecisive battlefield performance.
Worst of all COIN dogma has degraded our ability to properly, effectively and realistically train for combat. As the commander of 5/2 ID (SBCT) I was continually badgered not to conduct brigade maneuver live fire training before deploying because NTC leaders deemed that we were already “too lethal” of an organization. As a military historian I am simply not familiar with the concept of an infantry brigade being too lethal and thus denied live fire training.
“A gross lack of concern for subordinates manifests in guidance that “zero” civilian casualties are acceptable and coalition soldiers may have to be killed rather than defend themselves against a potential threat and risk being wrong and possibly resulting in injury or death of civilians.”
Population-centric approaches to war have resulted in senior officers are almost pacifistic in their approach to war; while they may have a public persona that seems offensively spirited that is not the reality when they are issuing guidelines to subordinates.”
Finally, a main COIN assumption is that the population does not want what the Taliban have to offer. This is an unbelievably flawed assumption… it might be more correct to assess that the population does not like how the Taliban deliver.
Military leaders must stay focused on the destruction of the enemy. It is virtually impossible to convince any committed terrorist who hates America to change his or her point of view—they simply must be attacked relentlessly. … It is appropriate for military units to develop goals that include appreciating local culture, improving quality of life for the populace, and promoting good governance whenever these concepts improve access to the enemy. However, if the pursuit of them does not advance one’s knowledge of threats and a unit’s capability to maintain the offensive, then they are of little practical value as tactical or operational objectives. Destruction of the enemy force must remain the most important step to defeating terrorists and insurgents.