Saturday, March 15, 2008

Neat COIN Analogy

Abu Muqawama has a neat post - COIN Analogy of the Day: The Staircase, which has the following analogy from a British Lieutenant General:

An insurgency is like a staircase. At the top of that staircase, you have the insurgent leadership. Below them, you have the actual bomb-throwers or gunmen. On the step below, you have the primary enablers -- the people who provide the bombs or the rifles. Below them, you have secondary enablers -- like look-outs. Below the enablers, you have the neutral population. And below the neutrals, at the bottom of the staircase, you have the openly friendly elements of the population.

Bad counter-insurgency strategy and tactics have the effect of turning the staircase into an escalator. If you wage a counter-insurgency campaign by kicking down doors and smashing heads against the wall, you move everyone up on the staircase: primary enablers become actual insurgents, secondary enablers become primary enablers, neutrals become enablers, and the friendly population either gets killed or becomes neutral.

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