Hell-Bent on Force Protection: Confusing Troop Welfare With Mission Accomplishment in Counterinsurgency
MARINE CORPS COMBAT DEVELOPMENT COMMAND QUANTICO VA
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The American militarys conventional mindset, magnified by misperceptions of the American publics casualty intolerance, has allowed force-protection to trump mission accomplishment in the execution of counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan. The success of our counterinsurgency efforts will be determined not by our effectiveness at making near-term investments in force protection, but by our effectiveness at accepting near-term risks in order to make long-term investments in security, and thus, force-protection. . Discussion Force-protection fetishism, based upon our political and military leaders false notions of the American publics casualty aversion, affects our militarys tactical employment in three ways armorizing, employment of forward operating bases FOBs, and the application of heavy firepower. Each of these measures has the effect of separating Soldiers and Marines either physically or psychologically from the populace that theyre supposed to be engaging and protecting. However, when counterinsurgent troops are separated from the populace, thereby isolating them from their operational center of gravity, their prospects for strategic success are fundamentally limited, if not entirely ruined. Our military leaders must therefore apply the appropriate counterinsurgency lessons from the Iraq surge, specifically the clear-hold-build concept, and embrace the tactical risks necessary for operational and strategic success. The American Military must transform its conventional mindset, discard its misperceptions of casualty aversion, and purge its collective conscience of force-protection fetishism in order to meet the realities and paradoxes of counterinsurgency.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Unconventional Warfare