Monday, November 16, 2009

Assume: Makes an...

Being a former Army guy, I'll admit that I don't read Proceedings all that often. But while tooling around their website looking for something else, I noticed this from the current edition. The authors don't put a whole of detail into these arguments, but I still can't see anything wrong with their assumptions, or at least their assumption adjustments.

There are many contested "facts" and assumptions about Afghanistan. But it seems to me that in the discourse surrounding the way ahead, a lot of pre-Iraq style assumptions are used. That is to say, the Least Dangerous Course of Action to simplify planning. Strategists cannot just assume away all of the difficult aspects of their campaign in order to create a palatable plan.

So please read and heed. I firmly believe that any plan that doesn't adequately address these planning assumptions is doomed to failure. And it seems to me the planners are going straight down that path.


  1. Between T.X. Hammes and SNLII's excellent comments in another thread (he didn't sign them, but it's him), I'm getting the damned rug pulled out from under my Mother of All Afghanistan Posts. (I guess that's what happens when you let an idea brew for 6-8 months.)

    Despite being a land-oriented fellow myself, I'm a Proceedings subscriber. (Between that and going to Annapolis for the Navy-Delaware game this weekend, I might get fired!)

  2. No comment on this?
    "U.S. tests 'ink spot' strategy in Afghanistan"

  3. My comment: woot.

    It's interesting to me that "ink spot" seems to have come into the lexicon recently; previously you'd hear "oil spot" (the literal translation of Gallieni's tache d'huile, which is where this concept came from) or "ink blot," which has a more established English pedigree than the somewhat unconventional "ink spot."

    Now as far as a substantive comment on the actual concept... well, that will theoretically be contained in the theoretically forthcoming MoAAP, or the even-more-theoretical Tactical and Operational Follow-Up to the MoAAP.

    (But in short: good idea.)

  4. I also want to note that I think Axe is drawing a false distinction between "pop-centric" and "ink spots" COIN. An ink blog/oil spot/ink spot approach is one that secures population centers before geographically expanding in temporal sequence. It stands to reason that the means of securing those population centers are still going to incorporate tactics and approaches that are considered to fall under "pop-centric COIN."

  5. And as one more follow-up: I said before that "oil spot" was the literal translation of tache d'huile, but if we want to be nit-picky and technical we'd really say "oil patch" or "oil stain" or even "oil blot."

  6. Trying to make up for not being French ?? ;-)