Ambition? Or Hubris?

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Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images)

Skimming Pentagon contract announcements and solicitations can give one a sense of just how much the federal government is trying to do in the national-security arena.

But sometimes you come across one that makes you scratch your head and say: Wow…what a great idea! Too bad it’s the Government and not God trying to do it, because there’s no way in Heaven it’s going to work without a higher being in control.

Take this presolicitation, here, for Afghanistan Source Operations Management [whatever that means] posted Friday by the Army:

The Department of Defense (DoD)/Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) seeks proposals for the operation and implementation of technologies to detect, disrupt, degrade, and dismantle insurgent groups. Certain areas of the world are plagued by insurgencies which survive in some measure due to problems of poor governance, corruption, militant resistance, ethnic conflicts and criminality. The security problems for the DoD/CTTSO are likely defined by insurgent groups attacking host nation government forces from within the population and exploiting the host nation government’s challenges in providing security and enforcing their laws. These insurgencies are likely supported by terrorist groups, criminal groups, and gangs. The objectives of this effort are as follows: implement a nonmaterial comprehensive information management solution, and then transition the solution to organizations that have the responsibility of countering insurgent groups.

Sisyphus, call your office!


To describe the US military efforts in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan as counterinsurgencies is of course a misnomer.

According to the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms:
*insurgency —  An organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict.
*insurgent — Member of a political party who rebels against established leadership.
*counterinsurgency — Those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and
civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency. Also called COIN.

So the resistance by the citizens of a country to a foreign military occupation is not an insurgency, and the occupying force's effort to defeat that resistance is not a counterinsurgency.  In other words, the occupation resistance forces are not aiming to overthrow a government but to resist an alien occupation. But COIN does sound better. It has a nice ring to it, and some people (most notably General Petraeus) have gone to the mint with it.

The US runs Afghanistan and yet the  former Taliban governors are "insurgents?" No way, Jose.

So call it COIN or call it Source Operations Management, whatever. They'll never get the right answers if they don't ask the right questions. But then it wouldn't be the Pentagonal Puzzle Palace.


haha! "there’s no way in Heaven it’s going to work without a higher being in control."


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