The Chinese Systems Administration Force

Very good news. The end of colonialism was a disaster around the world. Growing East and South Asian interest in Africa promise to return SysAdmin work to the farthest reaches of the globe:

Chinese Boots on African Soil – Online Africa Policy Forum
BUKAVU – Holed up behind barbed wire and sandbags, two soldiers gaze over the green landscape of Congo’s Kivu Province. The forested hills around them are silent, but they are guarding a hub of activity. Meticulously stationed military vehicles surround a few dozen troops marching around a flag planted in the middle of a dusty parade ground – a Chinese flag. “We are here to maintain order and regional stability,” explains a young lieutenant in impeccable French. Deployed in the resource-rich heart of Africa, this army unit forms only a small part of the Chinese troops that have been sent to six different African states.

Perhaps in 2014 we will finally be back up to the level we were at in 1914, when things went sour.

Of course, this promising article includes its fair bit of stupid. In typical eurospeak, “unilateral” means “not being governed by the United Nations.”

All of China’s troops in Africa are participants in United Nations peacekeeping operations under UN mandates – in contrast to the 1,400 or so U.S. troops deployed unilaterally in the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), part of the Bush Administration’s Global War on Terror.

These are good first steps for China.

But I’ll be happier when China’s operating in Africa with the same “unilateralism” as the United States.

(Hat-tip to Nykrindc for sharing this article on Google Reader.)

25 thoughts on “The Chinese Systems Administration Force”

  1. China and India do have a comparative advantage for sysadmin work. They have the raw numbers that seems necessary for an occupation. They’re used to working in and around poverty. They’re not of European decent, which blocks any argument about OIF or OEF type wars being “just a continuation of European colonialism.”

    But, will we miss out on anything by not being the prominent force during the occupation? IOW, will we miss out on the contracts or investment opportunities after “major combat operations” are completed?

    If we really want to “shrink the gap” it would seem the order of battle would be the US, UK, EU, Canada, and Australia as the Leviathan force and China, India, Russia, Eastern Europe, Japan, Korea, Brazil as sysadmin.

    I just fear that we might miss out on the after war investment opportunities?

  2. Dan,

    Intresingly enough, the UN has been trying (but failing) to do the SysAdmin/nation building thing for a while now, and I admit, completely failing in most instances. But, they operate with the incorrect paradigm of peacekeeping rather than peace enforcement, which in my mind is synonomous with counterinsurgency. Watch for an Obama Presidency in which Department of Peacekeeping Operations teams up with General Petreaus, who teams up with his Chinese counterpart.

    That would create something called legitimacy, if and when we had to violate soveriegnty and start running things, contra Seerov’s comment (and the others are great too) about “being the prominent force during the occupation” for the contracting opportunities. Legitimacy is helpful because it means people on the ground don’t even realize they are being occupied. At least then they don’t get pissed off and try to kill you, adapt to your tactics, and drive you out of their country. Having the stupid blue helmet means the rest of the world officially says that it’s coming in to handle shit.

    And then if life gets better, they can leave in a few years.

    By the way, this is the Order of Battle, notice its mostly green. If the UN was in on this from the beginning, that might have been a whole lot less difficult. For that I blame the legacy.

  3. Seerov,

    Reconstruction contracts have been significantly internationalized in Iraq [1,2], and the profits some companies will make from them are exceeded by the costs of the war in the first place. So with regard to intearnationalizing reconstruction, you give a little to get a lot.

    Regading the internationalize Leviathan-Sysadmin split, only the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and France have real blue water navies. As we saw in southern Iraq, even British land-based sysadmin strength is rather limited.

    Stephen,

    Agreed that the UN has a record of failure on the issue. Rejecting COIN is doubtless part of that.

    Watch for an Obama Presidency in which Department of Peacekeeping Operations teams up with General Petreaus, who teams up with his Chinese counterpart.

    What reason do you have for believing htis.

    That would create something called legitimacy, if and when we had to violate soveriegnty and start running things, contra Seerov’s comment (and the others are great too) about “being the prominent force during the occupation” for the contracting opportunities. Legitimacy is helpful because it means people on the ground don’t even realize they are being occupied. At least then they don’t get pissed off and try to kill you, adapt to your tactics, and drive you out of their country. Having the stupid blue helmet means the rest of the world officially says that it’s coming in to handle shit.

    Regarding legitimacy, how do you define the term?

    Your phrasing makes it seem to be part of 5GW (keep a population from knowing they are subject toa COIN), I often hear it described in terms of 4GW-style affairs (it convinces the people that the occupying force is morally correct), and sometimes it is used ot refer to moral uprightness itself.

    If the UN was in on this from the beginning, that might have been a whole lot less difficult.

    In what manner would you have envisioned the UN, and with what evidence do you say this?

    [1] http://english.hanban.edu.cn/english/2004/Feb/86666.htm
    [2] http://www.iraqupdates.com/p_articles.php/article/29945

  4. Hey, thanks for the H/T Dan.

    As for But I’ll be happier when China’s operating in Africa with the same “unilateralism” as the United States.

    I will too, so long as the US finally stops seeing China as a threat in the continent, instead of a partner. Of course, given our politician’s penchant for seeing things through a zero sum prism, this is doubtful in the short term. Instead, they’ll seek to turn AFRICOM into a bulwark against Chinese expansion in the continent.

  5. At least in the short-term, whether AFRICOM is seen as anti-Qaeda or anti-China is reflected in a political battle, that is currently being won by the anti-Qaeda crowd, such as Secretary Gates.

    Longer term, it will probably depend events on local thugs kidnapping and executing Chinese, and America making the right choices.

  6. Dan,

    Yes, the 5GWish tone is deliberate. The UN should approach peace enforcement as a form of war (SecretWar to borrow your term), but waged in such a way that the population doesn’t know one exists. This is war because the UN is trying to change and manipulate how the population identifies itself and others.

    By legitimacy, I mean that the UN is viewed as having a right to intervene and violate sovereignty by all aspects of the population. If UN intervention is seen as illegitimate, the population will thus view it as an enemy encroaching on their land, territory, and way of life.

    Further, if UN legitimacy is lacking, this makes it easier for on-the-ground groups to gather foreign support against the intervention. In this sense, I have in mind Serbs who resist Kosovo’s independence. Full UN approval is lacking because the Russians and Chinese won’t sign off on Kosovo, and this gives a fait accompli to resist any efforts for Kosovo to be independent.

    As for training and troop mobilization, the UN doesn’t have a good track record either. But, in terms of building international support for the reconstruction of a national army, having UN approval means it may be easier for the intervening states to rally regional support. I admit though I may have gone out a bit too far on a limb with this part of the comment.

  7. Stephen,

    I am confused by your comment.

    Yes, the 5GWish tone is deliberate. The UN should approach peace enforcement as a form of war (SecretWar to borrow your term), but waged in such a way that the population doesn’t know one exists. This is war because the UN is trying to change and manipulate how the population identifies itself and others.

    By legitimacy, I mean that the UN is viewed as having a right to intervene and violate sovereignty by all aspects of the population. If UN intervention is seen as illegitimate, the population will thus view it as an enemy encroaching on their land, territory, and way of life.

    You mention 5GW, but are discussing 4GW concerns.

    Viewed legitimacy as a 5GW concept, one might argue that the population does not realize a “United Nations” exists or, if it does so, it is a marginal political actor that is lost in the noise.

    Could you clarify?

  8. Sure. If the goal of a UN mission is nation building, then this implies that indigenous populations will undergo some sort of structural or cultural change to their society. The concept of soveriegnty says that state citizens should endure no such social engineering. And, if these citizens are deeply attached to an ethnic or subnational identity, they might see the Blue Helmets as a threat, as the UN is trying to revise their own social identity. If one knew this was coming, it would certainly make sense to perceive this as a form of war, and in turn rebel against this, most likely asymmetrically.

    Thus, the 5GW element is to gain the population’s consent to be in their territory and practice some form of social engineering. They have to forget their attachment to an old identity and be willing to embrace a new one that the UN-COIN forces fosters through nation building, and structural-cultural social engineering. They most certainly know the UN is there, but they do not realize or care that it is changing their conception of Self.

    If the UN can gain this consent (explicit or tacit), then it might be more successful. If regional and global actors are involved under the aegis of the UN, gaining this consent (and legitimacy) might be more likely.

  9. Stephen,

    4GW centers around the people and their relation to government, convincing the people to revoke their consent (if a fighter is anti-government) or to give it (if the fighter is pro-government).

    I’ve criticized Bill Lind plenty of times on this blog [1,2,3], but in this his conception of 4GW is valid. You are describing an UN 4GW operation.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/02/21/straw-man.html
    [2] http://www.dreaming5gw.com/2007/07/william_lind_and_john_norman.php
    [3] http://www.dreaming5gw.com/2006/10/against_william_lind_against_j.php

  10. Dan,

    True, 4GW is both anti-government (the enemy) and pro-government (the 4GW actor) at the same. However, to destroy a government’s legitimacy by 4GW requires forcing the government (or occupying army) to make mistakes, and to misidentify civilians as insurgents. This creates greater in-group solidarity and social polarization, strengthening the population’s identification with 4GW actors. This is where Lind’s primordialism comes in. By assuming that group identities (ethnicity in particular) are timeless and essential, he feeds into 4GW propaganda that radicalizes civilians into perceiving a threat.

    I see 5GW as different. 5GW is less anti-government than anti-ethnicity. If one wanted to build a new national identity from subnational ethnic groups, 5GW is the only way. The UN wages war not by provoking attacks on itself or civilians that foster further polarization. Instead it (should)create social conditions that undermine further attempts at polarization and exclusivist ethnic identities. When it does take coercive action, it should be done under the guise of law enforcement. All this is done in the name of legitimacy, yet at the same time, the UN is waging war against the exclusivist identity held by the population. It is effective as long as the civilians go along with it, and do not get tipped off that their identity is being revised.

    Another way to think about it: UN/5GW intervenes, and feeds new observations into the OODA loops of polarized civilians that eventually falsify their ethnic identity and build up a new civic one. More Creation than Destruction (in Boydspeak, and I know there’s a D5GW post on this but I’ve been looking and can’t find it, but the search will continue).

    This is hypothetical because the UN hasn’t done this yet, but it should, and take a hint from Petreaus and Company. UN operations should be approached as war, not peacekeeping, which accepts each side as a legitimate belligerent in the conflict, almost like a state. By recognizing their ethnic identity, we legitimize it. [1] Instead, we should be sapping at its foundations without the warring parties even realizing it.

    [1] Mary Kaldor. New and Old Wars. Stanford University Press, Stanford: 1998. See Chapter 6: Towards a Cosmpolitan Approach. Kaldor discusses why peacekeeping doesn’t work and should be abandoned for international law enforcement, with a primary focus on protecting civilians. FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency makes the same point repeatedly.

  11. Dan, I’m not really sure why you label Lind as a “radical” or an “extremist?” The links you provided don’t support those labels at all? You then say something about Lind hurting his cause because of his extremist rhetoric.

    Assuming for a minute that you are correct about Lind being an extremist; don’t you think that in today’s politically correct West that someone has to say the things that others are thinking about?

    Perhaps defeating the forces of political correctness requires a mix of approaches? Some people will use 1st and 2nd generation tactics while others use forms of warfare where the forces of PC don’t even know they’re being attacked(5GW).

    I’ve been noticing a difference in Pat Buchanan’s writing lately. He’s taking a much more “radical” approach to this writing and why shouldn’t he? Guys like Buchanan probably feel that they’re getting older and have nothing else to loose.

    I think we’re going to see more people take a harder edged approach as they get older. Men like Buchanan and Lind see that time is running out for the West. And in this 11th hour–as the Orcs are not only at the gate but climbing over it–it may be time for the Men of the West to stop worrying about sounding too “radical?”

  12. Stephen,

    I think we agree that Lind’s political writings are not him at his best. No argument there.

    If I am reading you right, you are saying that an occupation can be 5GW because it indirectly addresses a sub-objective of the occupation by manipulating the actors. I see your point, but you’re describing the implementation of the sub-stages of 4GW, detailed by Hammes[1,2].

    You’re correct that you seek to destabilze ethnicity instead of a State, but consider how 4GWs1, 4GWs2, 4GWs3 still describe what you are doing:

    1. Destabilize the enemy while building up a fighting force. Assassinations, bombings, and the like.
    2. Attempt to control areas where the enemy is weak while building up a fighting force. However, do not fight regular battles.
    3. Use your fighting force to conquer the enemy in regular battles.

    All of your manipulations form part of a 4GWS2.

    Seerov,

    My impressions of Lind come from both his writings and hearing him speak at the Boyd Conference in Quantico, VA, last year. It was painful, because he painted a generally respectable orientation in the worst manner possible.

    Hear him for yourself — come to Boyd ’08! [3]

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/05/15/pisrr-and-the-three-stages-try-1.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/05/15/pisrr-and-the-three-stages-try-1.html
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/05/01/boyd-08-5gw-sei.html

  13. Dan,

    4GWstage2 is “Attempt to control areas where the enemy is weak while building up a fighting force. However, do not fight regular battles.”

    This follows stage1: destabilization (and disorientation) through asymmetric violent tactics, like terrorism. This initiates a governmental response that pushes civilians to one’s side, providing more recruits and building up a larger force. As government misidentifies civilians for insurgents, and acts violently on that identification, civilians will come to also believe they are on the side of the insurgents. Cells of cadres into neighborhood (or village) militias, recruitment being driven by a common threat from the state. The government’s threatening reponse (triggered by Stage 1) is what makes Stage 2 possible and a successful transition to Stage 3, and complete takeover.

    Manipulation is everwhere in this model, as Stage 1 manipulates the state with violence while Stage 2 manipulates the population with protection.

    That’s not to say that it works the same way in a 5GW/peace enforcement/COIN action.

    Taking the scenario to be some form of civil war with multiple ethnic groups, Step 1 (Penetration) involves getting the parties to stop fighting, and to consolidate their position non-violently at the cost of enduring foreign occupation. For ethnic elites, this might not mean reconciliation with their old (and probably current) ethnic enemies, but using that threat of the Other to merely maintain power among one’s own ethnic kin. We manipulate the enemy to come to peace because it thinks it will maintain its internal group autonomy, instead this begins the takeover.

    Step 2 involves breaking down that relationship by manipulating the population. Protection is also offered, but the threats to this new legitimate (and legal) order are internal; the criminals and outlaws are threats, the same individuals who are also the elite ethnic entrepreneurs, trackiffing in violence and illicit goods, and living off the war economy. Thus, the popular mass of all ethnic groups will stop seeing each other as a threat, and come to identify with each other. Again, this could only have been possible by the penetration of a 5GW actor that could supersede any other group’s attempt to provide security.

    Step 3: Build up not one’s own forces, but an entirely new army supported by its own state apparatus. To get to state building, one must first do the work of nation building in Step 2.

    There are obviously similarities with the 4GW model, but I find it to be inverted with regards to how violence, force, and security is used to manipulate civilians and warring ethnic elites.

    First, Violence in 4GW increases with intensity: it starts out asymmetric (terrorism), becomes defensive (safe areas), and then finally offensive (full takeover). In 5GW, the intensity decreases progressively through each step. The real violence is on the front end, persuaing the ethnic elites to give up the fight. Penetration is about the Leviathan laying down the law, and getting the SysAdmin on the ground. (Carol Cohn would have a field day with that statement) Then Stage 2, where the ‘pistol-packin Peace Corps’ gets the neighborhood on its side and arrests the bad guys. This is violence that doesn’t appear to be war at all, instead its legitimized by the community’s approval of the 5GW force. Last, the violence of Stage 3 is also law enforcement sanctioned by the community, but this time carried out by its own state, which develops bottom-up from it.

    If there are any regular battles in this model (3GW), they are at the beginning of the model. After that, violence is not recognized as war, only law enforcement. In Stage 3, the 5GW force isn’t even doing law enforcement.

    Obviously, the above borrows lots from Tom Barnett and also Mary Kaldor. That’s how it might work in my mind.

    And, I hope to be at PEI too! I wonder if Rob or Chet read the paper yet…

    http://smartpei.typepad.com/robert_patersons_weblog/2008/04/boyd-2008-confe.html#comments

  14. How is what you describe not 4GW?

    You write:

    First, Violence in 4GW increases with intensity: it starts out asymmetric (terrorism), becomes defensive (safe areas), and then finally offensive (full takeover). In 5GW, the intensity decreases progressively through each step.

    But as both 4GW and 5GW would walk through the PISRR steps, both see an increase in the intensity violence followed by a decrease.

  15. But as both 4GW and 5GW would walk through the PISRR steps, both see an increase in the intensity violence followed by a decrease.

    I don’t think this is true, because of the fact that completion of either three-step models to victory we describe above (4GW and 5GW) require ‘older’ Generations of warfare that are more intense in terms of violence. Where in the three steps those 1/2/3GW paradigms are used is quite different.

    In the 4GW three-step model, 4GW irregular, terrorist attacks are used in the beginning to create a mass movement, which is then turned into a regular army for offensive action against the state. Insurgency creates a regular force that can fight big battles, which I see as more violent and more intense. This is at the end of the three-step-model.

    In the 5GW three-step model, the big battles come at the beginning, and take the form of 3GW manuever wars. State forces always win these since they have more technology allowing for more manuever. This is the initial penetration. Following this, the adversaries and ethnic groups think peace has broken out, yet the 5GW actor is still proceeding along the PISRR to change identity, through social interaction, communication, and discourse. This is the real weapon in 5GW, and less so for violence.

    Discourse, communication, and ideas are also important in 4GW and reduce the primacy of violence from the first three Generations, but the gulf between the utility of violence and discourse grows wider with 5GW.
    In 4GW, guerrilla or less intense violence is used to bait the state into using violence against civilians, which then makes guerilla discourse or narratives more appealing. In 5GW, violence is directed against an ethnic group to compel them to become non-violent and accept occupation. The Leviathan’s more intense violence makes it possible for the SysAdmin to get on the ground and attack with discourse, and once mobilized civilians theoretically go right along with it. They then do not even question the very limited acts of violence by the 5GW actor, because they have the veneer of law enforcement.

  16. Stephen,

    In the 5GW three-step model, the big battles come at the beginning, and take the form of 3GW manuever wars.

    In 5GW, violence is directed against an ethnic group to compel them to become non-violent and accept occupation.

    At this point, it is best if you would define your terms. You are using them in ways foreign to the bulk of the existing literature.

    If you believing existing models are wrong, fine. But in the interest of open debate, it’s best that you begin to clarify how your conception is different from (it seems) everyone else’s, and why you find it prudent to apply new meanings to old terms.

    As someone who admires William Lind’s theory of 4GW but finds his hegelian idealism disturbing, I have done this. I have argued how Lind’s theoretical foundation is so bad that it undermines his writings, and thus gutting his “generations of war” system into xGW thought is the only way to save it.

    If you desire to similarly gut xGW into something new, I look forward to it. But at this point, it’s clear that such a disembowelment is the only way that your comments on the topic can congeal.

  17. Dan,

    In the quote of my comment, I was unclear about 5GW and violence. I was referring to the act of Penetration into the social relations of individuals in a state. That requires invasion of some sort which is obviously violent.

    I don’t think I’m trying to disbowel or gut xGW. I’m simply trying to run with similarities between 4GW-as-insurgency and 5GW-as-Counterinsurgency, or System Administration (this incorporates nation building, state building, and law enforcement). To think that the US military learns to deal with 4GW guerrilla or ethnic war by developing 5GW suggests that other multilateral attempts to deal with intrastate conflicts that threaten global security should also follow a 5GW model.

    I don’t argue that destroying group identities and reconstructing them is a process exclusive to either 4GW or 5GW. Like state building, Maoist People’s War also aspires to nation and state building by destroying civilian identification with the adversarial group and builds identification with one’s own group. I think this is the similarity you referred to, between what I described and 4GW. But, how identity is manipulated is the key difference. 4GW uses hate to polarize, 5GW uses love to reconcile. Hatred is perpetuated by increasing violence, while love is perpetuated by social order. Just because national identity and bureaucratic institutions are being constructed by both sides doesn’t make peace enforcement 4GW. But its emphasis on law enforcement, social order, and stability does make it 5GW, as the use of violence becomes increasingly rare because of the new context being created by the exchange of ideas through social interaction. This is undermining the intellectual will of one’s opponents to exist as a unique and specific social group separate from its adversaries, rather than as a coherent social whole that includes those adversaries.

    I still think this is consistent with what has been written before by you and D5GW.

  18. “Hatred is perpetuated by increasing violence, while love is perpetuated by social order. Just because national identity and bureaucratic institutions are being constructed by both sides doesn’t make peace enforcement 4GW. But its emphasis on law enforcement, social order, and stability does make it 5GW, as the use of violence becomes increasingly rare because of the new context being created by the exchange of ideas through social interaction. This is undermining the intellectual will of one’s opponents to exist as a unique and specific social group separate from its adversaries, rather than as a coherent social whole that includes those adversaries.”

    I know where you are going with this Stephen and I think you are on the right track. As we have discussed before the key in 5GW is ‘context’. The 5GW organization seeks to re-shape the context of Observation thereby triggering the target to Orient upon information in a specific manner.

  19. Stephen,

    I noticed your comparison of 5GW to COIN, which struck me as original. I hope it does not come from this line in my monograph (p6. 7, slide 14 in the PDF) [1]:

    “COIN in 5GW is the preemptive, system-wide, and automatic degeneration of 5GW forces into more primitive forms of warfare. “

    My meaning was “COIN against 5GW,” not “COIN as 5GW…”

    Certianly if the second interpretation makes more sense you are free to argue it (a text is a text, after all), but that was not my intent.

    [1] http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/193484036X/ref=cm_arms_pdp_dp

  20. Interesting point!

    Thinking about it I have always seen 5GW as being the counter to 4GW and by that nature a potential COIN. I suppose that comes from my earliest thinking of the Generations of Modern Warfare where each generation grew to negate the advantages of the previous generation. That thinking followed me into XGW where if your opponent was using generational doctrine ‘X’, your counter was to also use doctrine ‘X’ or ‘X+1’.

    Dan, are you saying that 5GW can’t be COIN, or are saying that COIN isn’t the extent of 5GW? Also, is the only doctrine to effectively counter 5GW another 5GW that degrades a hostile 5GW organization into Generations lower in the hierarchy of XGW?

  21. I definetly see that that 5GW can be used in COIN. My interest in 5gw came from trying to counter-4gw in ways other then more 4GW.

    I guess I am really seeing COIN as Counter-4GW or Counter-4GW-against-a-non-state-actor.

    You can try to counter 4GW with 2GW or 3GW, but that won’t work well.

    You can try to counter 4GW with more 4GW…this is is interesting and still developing.

    You can try to counter 4GW with 5GW, and 5GWers should have advantage over a 4GWer.

  22. Arherring,

    Thanks for the elaboration!

    Dan, are you saying that 5GW can’t be COIN, or are saying that COIN isn’t the extent of 5GW? Also, is the only doctrine to effectively counter 5GW another 5GW that degrades a hostile 5GW organization into Generations lower in the hierarchy of XGW?

    5GW can be used offensively or defensively, by states or non-states. [1]

    It makes sense to counter “xGW” with “(x+1)GW,” but there can be benefits to fighting symetrically (it’s relatively mindless, and so can be less risky.. especially if one has the advantage in a symetric fight!).

    purpleslog,

    I guess I am really seeing COIN as Counter-4GW or Counter-4GW-against-a-non-state-actor.

    That’s certainly part of it, but it’s equally possible to think of 5GW as Counter-4GW against a state actor, or counter 3GW against a multinational coalition, or to counter 2GW by another state, etc.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/08/01/kinds-of-5gw.html

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