The COIN Cycle

Courtesy John Robb, this interesting piece:

An Outsider’s Perspective (SWJ Blog)
Ucko wraps up by noting that “it is too early to say with any real certainty whether or not counterinsurgency will become a central priority for the U.S. military.” He finds the evidence “emerging from its initial encounter with counterinsurgency in 2003 presents a mixed picture: on the one hand, a group within the DoD has driven an impressive learning process, featuring rapid integration of counterinsurgency in our doctrine, education and training. On the other hand, the U.S. military has remained structured for conventional war and, more important yet, emerging opportunities to change force structure or budgetary priorities have not been seized.”

Dr. Ucko’s bottom line is that, despite a long war and omens of a generational struggle, “the future of counterinsurgency within the U.S. military thus seems to hang in the balance, dependent on whether the message and cause of the COIN community is accepted and thereby gains momentum or whether it is rejected and pushed off the table.”

One of the reasons to stay in Iraq is completing the COIN cycle. It is important that the US military gains not only the experience in taking a Counter-Insurgency (COIN) campaign from beginning to end, but also that the lessons learned be reflected in promotions. The article correctly points out that the Army will not have fully transformed into a COIN force until top-line spending priorities change. That is to say, the Army won’t be truly ready for SysAdmin work until it hosts a Military-Industrial-COIN-Complex.

To get that to happen, we need to complete the COIN cycle. We need to stay in Iraq.

Not only does winning in Iraq help us in all the typical ways (building up our correlation of forces, dissuading neutrals from being hostile to us, etc), it also gives us the COIN infrastructure we need for future conflicts.

We need to complete the COIN cycle. We need victory in Iraq.