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Lone Survivor on Counter-Insurgency: Read It, Then Do The Opposite

(To read all of our Lone Survivor posts, please click here. The most important post is "A List of the Mistakes and Differences Between Lone Survivor (Film), Lone Survivor (Book) and Reality" so read that first if you are new to the blog or this topic.)

We’ve criticized Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson’s Lone Survivor so many times, in so many different ways, it may feel like there is nothing else left to say.

Au contraire. We’ve yet to tackle the most relevant topic to On Violence: fighting and winning counter-insurgencies, particularly the one in Afghanistan.

While Lone Survivor doesn’t pretend to be a counter-insurgency manual, Luttrell frequently offers counter-productive (and even dangerous) advice about how to fight counter-insurgencies. No soldier or marine should ever look to Marcus Luttrell for guidance.

Here are the worst parts from Lone Survivor relating to counter-insurgency:

Issue 1: Identifying the Enemy

You can't beat an insurgent if you can't identify them. As we noted in our post on the mistakes in Lone Survivor, Luttrell, describing his experience in Iraq, lumps "al Qeada or Taliban, Shiite or Sunni, Iraqi or Foreign, a freedom fighter for Saddam" together. Reread that. He thought he was facing the Taliban in Iraq.

In Afghanistan, he doesn’t distinguish between the various groups like the Taliban, Haqqani network, Hezb-e Islami Gulbadin (HiG), or Al Qaeda. He claimed his arch-nemesis Ben Sharmak (aka Ahmad Shah) was a serious Taliban bad guy, when in reality he was more closely identified with the HiG group. In two places, he links the Taliban with 9/11, which stretches the truth. He writes, "Taliban fighters were nothing like so rough and dirty as Afghan mountain peasants. Many of them had been educated in America," a more accurate description of Al Qaeda than the Taliban. He then says that Kunar was "the place where the destruction of the WTC was born and nourished". That’s just flat wrong. (Most of al Qaeda’s training was based around Kandahar, which is in the south. The Taliban barely controlled Kunar province.)

In maneuver war, firepower wins. In irregular wars, intelligence wins. Lone Survivor doesn’t convey that nuance.

Issue 2: Empathy

No army loves its enemies. But you do need to understand them. And even empathize them.

The best counter-insurgents and insurgents can at least empathize with the people they work for and live with. Lone Survivor misses this. Luttrell describes Afghanistan as "the place where a brand of evil flourishes that is beyond the understanding of most Westerners." Or thumbing his nose at a place that is, in his words, "Primitive with a big P." Hard to empathize with people you consider savages. Or people Luttrell calls, “hate-filled.” If you can’t empathize with the population, you will never be able to separate them from the insurgents.

Issue 3: Hardcore Terrorists and Accidental Guerrillas

In addition to exaggerating the number of insurgents he faced, Luttrell exaggerates their importance. He identifies every Taliban fighter as a hardcore terrorist. The real world isn't so simple, though. Many insurgents, as described by David Kilcullen, are temporary fighters fighting for local causes, like honor or against a perceived invader. Most likely the ambush facing the SEALs was not an expertly trained, company-sized element, but a small group of insurgents (allied with the HiG) bolstered by local Korengalis fighting for their honor.

I say again, intelligence versus firepower.

Issue 4: SEALs as Counter-Insurgents

Special Operations troops, like Rangers, SEALs and Delta Force, fill a vital need in counter-insurgencies, conducting direct action missions. But that doesn’t mean all special operations troops are good for all counter-insurgency missions.

For instance, in one mission, Luttrell said it "required interrogation, a skill at which we were all very competent." But he was never trained in interrogation (we know because Luttrell goes over every single piece of training he ever received), so how could he competently interrogate someone? Or even do so legally since interrogations on objectives have to be approved by an officer equivalent in rank to an Army Colonel or Navy Captain? And, again legally, interrogations must be performed by trained human intelligence professionals. So how did Luttrell do them?

The idea of SEALs as counter-insurgents bothers me because it shows how much Luttrell doesn’t know about his role in the larger war machine. If he thinks he can do intelligence, direct action missions, and reconnaissance, (plus who knows how many other missions) and if he thinks his SEALs will win the war by themselves, then he needs to learn a lot more about working with regular units.

Unfortunately, Luttrell’s attitude is all too common in special operations in general. (Check out this organization chart from Thomas Ricks’ blog to get an idea how little special operations and conventional units work together.)

Issue 5: Fighting the Right War

The way Luttrell talks about warfare, you would think he was fighting World War II, not battling insurgents in an irregular (political) war. For instance, Luttrell describes the Taliban crossing from Pakistan into Konar as, "this was a border hot spot, where multiple Taliban troop movements were taking place on a weekly, or even daily basis." It sounds like he is describing the Germans moving into Poland, except that isn't how the Taliban operates. They move in small units when possible, and live off the population. Saying "insurgent cells crossed the border" makes way more sense than saying the Taliban conducted "troop movements".

But this thinking makes sense for a commando who wants to fight the enemy straight up. You can see this when Luttrell describes his mission, “[al queda and taliban remnants] were preparing to start over, trying to fight their way through the mountain passes...And our coming task was to stop them." Why send in SEALs? “In general terms, we believe there are very few of the world’s problems we could not solve with high-explosive or a well-aimed bullet.”

In reality, a well-aimed bullet is only one tool amongst many needed to defeat an insurgency.

Which is a shame because Luttrell almost gets it.

Just because the bulk of Lone Survivor misunderstands counter-insurgency doesn't mean that Lutrell/Robinson didn't slip in one good nugget of counter-insurgency wisdom. In one sentence, they sum up how to defeat an insurgency: "the key to winning was intel, identifying the bomb makers, finding the supplies, and smashing the Taliban arsenal before they could use it."

He identified that the key to winning is intelligence. As I said several times in this post, in an irregular war like Afghanistan, intelligence, not maneuver, wins the day. Yet the rest of Lone Survivor fails to mention where the SEALs got their intelligence (Marine Corps daily patrols), the value of winning over locals (Luttrell seems stunned the local tribes protected him) and building up the Afghan security forces (Luttrell’s mission is U.S. only). Instead, he talks about the value of direct action missions (”there are very few of the world’s problems...”) to the exclusion of all else.

Again, Lone Survivor isn’t a counter-insurgency manual. But far more Americans have read/will see Lone Survivor and will learn more about Afghanistan from this book/movie than any other source. It is a shame they will come away with the exact wrong ideas about how to wage this type of war.

32 comments

No one puts Kunar province in the corner!


I haven’t read the book, but it seems true to its genre. That said, it seems to raise two additional issues: the SOF fetish, and tactical movement to the objective.

I’ll tackle the SOF fetish first. I get why they’re useful. Politically they work below the media radar, so are generally a less risky tool. Operationally, they have a slightly quicker decision cycle. Their specialised training makes them ideally suited for certain very specific missions. But they have severe limitations, neatly summed up in Adm McRaven’s book on spec ops. They’re lightly armed, lack staying power, and run into trouble when they lose their advantages of speed and surprise. Being lightly armed means their weapons don’t overmatch those of their enemies, nor do they have the extra ammo to conduct prolonged fights. They have air and artillery on call – provided weather and wave propagation cooperate, and neither is as precise as advertised. They tend to be in small teams, which provides some temporary advantage of stealth, but when that’s lost (as easily happens when in a rural area where the population depends on animal husbandry), their small size works against them. Further, they aren’t supermen. SEALs and Rangers and Delta (and SAS and French Commandos etc) have faced being shot up by poorly trained locals for decades. Doing fancy courses doesn’t make anyone bullet proof, or RPG proof, or booby-trap proof, and an illiterate farmer with a rifle who sees you first and gets the first shot off first can pin down the best trained team in the world.

Tactical movement to the objective has been an enormous challenge in Afghanistan. If you move by helicopter (another fetish) you can count on being compromised quickly. If you move be vehicle, your route is similarly telegraphed. Parachute in and you then have the chance to stay undiscovered a shade longer (assuming you all land together and no one breaks a leg), but you still have to get out. Simple early warning systems abound in the guerrilla battle space, and western forces consistently overestimate the length of time they can remain covert. The west has yet to figure out a way to move around that doesn’t tip off the enemy, and until we introduce teleportation or mass quantities of helicopters with ‘whisper mode,’ we never will. The best we’ve managed is to introduce deception, be it through moving at night or setting off in the wrong direction or some other ruse. But again, the advantage gained is fleeting (and usually poorly anticipated in the planning process), and then we either need to overmatch the enemy or withdraw. SOF, to return to my first point, is rarely suited for overmatch. They may take pride in impressive body counts and numbers of awards received (as seems to be the case in Lone Survivor, and similarly in the ridiculously named Operation Commando Wrath), but if the enemy can regenerate faster than we can exploit , then what’s the point? We’re better off re-examining our options and selecting a different course of action.

As for intelligence, I know plenty of combat arms officers who squirm at the thought of intelligence-types running the show, but really that just reflects a poor understanding of Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, and a failure to appreciate that intelligence work is everyone’s responsibility. Bad intelligence results in failed operations at best and counterproductive operations at worst (as Wikileaks reported on TF 373). Perhaps most damaging for coalition forces is stovepiped intelligence and a reluctance to share between the different clubs, even when they’re all trying to achieve the same end state.


The curious thing is, from what I’ve read of Victory Point, which goes over many of the same events, that book offers quite useful examples of things to do in a small war. (Darack was fairly definite about the size of the bad guy group, very small. Which you probably already know, but you were a little vague on.)


F:

If you haven’t read it, Victory Point does a very good job on the tactical movement decisions made by the Seals and how the Marines were going to do it.


Havent read the book but this whole premise reminds me of something I heard a very smart senior US Army officer say in regards to counterinsurgency. Paraphrasing: I think we believed that COIN existed somewhere lower in the rung of Army operations, that maneuvering formations and fighting a conventional war represented the toughest thing we could do, and since we were well trained at that, doing anything “less” like COIN would be easy.

That made sense to me. Another aside, I remember getting out of the Army in 2006 as an E5 infantryman and thinking I was a terrorism expert because I had deployed to Iraq a couple of times. Scarier, lots of people believed me. The experience of “being there” is given way too much credence.


@F:
“The west has yet to figure out a way to move around that doesn’t tip off the enemy(…)”

#1 rule; desensitize. Be around often, so being around once more doesn’t tip them off any more.

#2 motorcycles appear to be a way to go, but accident rate, lack of armour, limited qty available and the old cavalry dilemma of requiring deadweight personnel to guard the horses (bikes) during a fight are among the problems.


@Sven – Desensitize. That’s fine for forces that occupy land. It doesn’t work so well for forces that launch continual raids from major hubs. Ironically, that concept also presents a challenge for reconnaissance units which, by the very nature of their employment, tend to be the moving around areas where the locals have yet to be desensitized. Yet they also tend to be very lightly armed and equipped and so among the units least suited for getting into prolonged fights.

As for bikes, perhaps quads are a better option, but as soon as one hits a mine the powers that be tend to seek a better protected option (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2007/06/22/military-gators.html).

@Don – I’ve always felt we restrict ourselves both institutionally and intellectually by creating a spectrum of force with high intensity conflict at the extreme end and guerrilla warfare lower down. Introducing terms like ‘graduate level of war’ is similarly unhelpful. In short, high intensity and guerrilla are both hard, but in different ways. At the lowest tactical level the firefight is about as intensely difficult, though the ‘strategic soldier’ demands differ. At the planning levels the requirements and challenges are similarly hard but are vastly different. Planning and conducting a high tempo op while trying to dodge enemy air, heavy rockets and massed armour is a serious challenge. So is trying to sort out Byzantine tribal networks and precisely applying force while simultaneously working political and developmental angles. Being ready for one doesn’t mean you’re ready for the other. But few army-level planners want to face the reality that time and resource constraints prohibit units from properly training for both in a single fiscal year. Plus, trying to make the institution be good at both plays havoc with personnel policies and career progression.

@carl – thanks for the suggestion.


I’ve always wondered about motorcycle usage by Taliban & Co. It seemed to me from my view from thousands of miles away that using those gave them a very great mobility advantage that we have never come up with a counter for, or even tried to come up with a counter for. Am I wrong about this?

One thing that might help I always thought was use of very light helos like the old OH-23s that depended upon eyes of the crew and a light machine gun. But that ain’t the way nowadays; not big enough, not sophisticated enough and not expensive enough.


The Kandahar MC mobility isn’t due to their bikes. It’s due to being indistinguishable from their civilian counterparts (beards?! . . .). I suppose the cheap counter is lots of old fashioned patrolling and snap checkpoints, and the expensive counter is biometrics and facial recognition.


I should qualify my last statement, and add the caveat that while I tend to use the present tense my first hand knowledge is dated by several years and is confined to Kandahar Province, and I depend on second hand knowledge for everything since then. In Afgh, armed groups hostile to ISAF and/or the Karzai government are hard to spot (whether on motorcycles or not) because the are indistinguishable from the civilians as seen through western eyes. Locals can often tell the difference, so it makes sense to try to get the locals onside so they can provide good intelligence. Police aren’t always reliable for a wide variety of reasons. Army are not always reliable because they are recruited disproportionately from the north and so have their own challenges figuring out local issues. Interpreters are not always reliable because they tend to be drawn from urban areas and look down on rural yokels. So yeah, bikes get a lot of people around the countryside, but that’s more a function of their low acquisition and operating costs than anything else, and the Taliban have freedom of movement because we usually can’t pick them out of a crowd.


F:

I see your point. I am thinking more along the lines of things I’ve read in Stars and Stripe or have seen on Frontline, situations where they engage and then jump on their bikes and drive off with us unable to pursue. Or say there is a very remote area that has no trail an armored truck can take but a motorbike can take which might end up with that area being conceded because of that. It is more of a narrow tactical point I guess.

But that tactical ability to pursue or get into the remote areas can important in small war. It made the difference with the Apaches and in Argentina too. Their army couldn’t handle the Pampas tribes until they copied their way of using horses, multiple mounts for each trooper. It just sometimes seems to me we don’t try hard enough or recognize the import of ‘pursue’. Pro-force strikes again perhaps.


The ‘insurgents’ are difficult to spot in large part because they are so few. A couple ten thousand in a country of tens of millions. Their supporters are more numerous, but below the threshold for serious actions against them.

Tactical mobility counts when a contact happens or is imminent. Tactical mobility is thus a very different issue than the ability to ID your foe.

Historically, guerrillas strived in terrain that was difficult to access, and the road mining campaign has turned even settlements close to roads other than the ring road into difficult-to-access-countrysides.
The difficulty to access is both about tactical movement and logistical movement capacities.


Oops. “thrived”, not “strived”.


There are a couple of ways of looking at tactical mobility. The conventional way is to see it as a balance between protection, firepower and mobility (speed and cross country capabilities). But it means something a little different for guerrillas. SVIEDs, for example, depend on looking exactly like every other car on the road right up until they blow up. Guerrillas converging for a raid or on an ambush site depend on blending in with their surroundings. Once contact is intiated, being able to blend in with the farmer in the next field permits unhindered movement. So just as mines/IEDs, anti-armour weapons and MANPADS are good ways to counter conventional tactical mobility, so is being able to see through guerrilla ‘camouflage.’

Pursuit is an interesting concept in Afgh. A lot of offensive ops in Afgh depend on carefully targeting a specific compound or cluster of compounds, where the emphasis is on cut-off and intelligence exploitation. When done right there’s nothing to pursue. The best opportunities for classical pursuit are in reaction to enemy-initiated ambushes or raids. They’re often optimistic in scope and can be turned. As noted, force protection (cumbersome vehicles, heavy soldier loads, and an emphasis on treating casualties first) can dull the aggressive spirit, as can some of our imaginary lines on the map, like boundaries and ops boxes. What’s really missing is a light reserve or quick reaction force that can use Fire Force-like tactics to be rapidly inserted along exfiltration routes, and a surveillance mechanism to track the fleeing forces until the cut-offs (also referred to as stop groups) arrive. They may scatter, but they’ll probably RV at some future point, so you only need to keep track of one group. Dogs would be useful for such activities. Too often, though, QRFs respond to secure casualty collection points instead of hunting the enemy.


F.:

This gets back to something Michael C. wrote once at Best Defense about opportunity costs. Do you think an opportunity cost of such heavy reliance on night raids is the ability to use Fire Force-like tactics? The helos and the pilots can only fly so much and there are only so many helos. It seems from my reading that there were enough helos around in Vietnam that we could do things like aero-rifle platoons, not now though.


Helicopters are expensive gas guzzlers.
Forget about them as much as possible (fire force also used paras anyway). More helicopter usage => more fuel trucks need to roll over the main roads => more protection money paid to insurgents => insurgent business more profitable => more insurgents.


carl – I don’t remember that post, so I can’t comment on the specifics. But regarding helicopters . . . probably not, but it depends on the situation.

In Iraq, industrial counter-terrorism seemed to work pretty well. I don’t think it works so well in Afgh (similar sized population, but in Afgh spread over a larger landmass and in more rural and remote locations. That means longer flight times and less availability of supporting conventional forces). But I’m not sure it has to be an either/or issue when it comes to SOF night ops and a conventional light infantry airmobile/borne reaction force.

Distribution of air assets is a tricky thing. I don’t know a thing about exclusive air support for SOF, or undeclared air frames which are at the exclusive call of their troop-contributing nation’s ground forces. But I can comment on declared assets. Each contributing nation keeps a certain amount of control over their air frames through caveats, but declared assets are put under a common aviation command. That means that in a hypothetical situation you could have at a specific moment Americans flying on Brit Pumas, Canadians flying in American Blackhawks, and Brits flying in Canadian Chinooks. It’s all based on the aviation HQ’s estimate. So in part it’s a factor of quantity, but it’s also a factor of prioritising. If the theatre or regional commander demands a certain number of frames and crews be on standby for an airmobile (or airborne) reaction force, then it shall be done. That just means everyone else has to be prepared to live with marginally fewer options.

Parachute ops have probably been underused. A lot of the ground is unsuitable for drop zones, but there are still plenty of areas where an airborne force could really shake things up. The challenge is finding dedicated planes. Hercs may actually be overkill. A bunch of Aviocars, or something similar, would be ideal, but no one is rushing out to buy and deploy small short haul planes.

In some ways, prying free a light infantry company or two can be the hardest task, because commanders love immediately allocating them to terrain.


Sven – the fuel issue is a great point. I wonder if gliders might be a solution. I’m not sure if one can jump from them, or whether they could just be cheap disposable items made from wood and canvas and launched and towed by something smaller and more fuel efficient than a helo.


Gliders tend to not move quickly and anything truly disposable would not be judged safe enough.

A couple DHC-5 Buffalo and DHC-6 Twin Otter could provide the transportation at acceptable fuel consumption and low maintenance demands. I’ve read that at least one Buffalo is being used to supply drop Plt outposts in Afghanistan (very low altitude drops).

Fire support could also move from Apaches towards more lightweight helicopters. Alternatively, the AU-23/-24 approach could be revived – possibly this time with better results.

Neither is going to happen on a large scale, though. Western military forces love gold-plating and heaviness. There is no interest in a “acceptable performance for little effort” approach. Such approaches are not the way the top bureaucrats in uniform can defend their budgets.
Just look at the ridiculous drama about the USAF’s procurement of some turboprop trainers as lightweight COIN aircraft. Quite the same has been attempted over and over for three decades (see Piper PA-48 Enforcer, OV-10D) – and they still lack this capability. They don’t even have such a thing as an armed BAe Hawk, Alpha Jet, MB.339, L-159 etc.

I don’t care much about the results in Afghanistan because this conflict is unessential if not entirely irrelevant. The demonstrated clumsiness and scarcity of improvisation is what bothers me. It’s a poor testimony for the Western military bureaucracies.


I wouldn’t say the war in Afgh is completely irrelevant. If some kind of stability ever comes to that region there’s enormous scope for great economic benefits for Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran, and probably India. Though that does raise a few other questions . . .

I’m not sure I agree with your assessment that low-tech improv is hampered by bureaucrats fighting for budgets. It’s been a while since a politician demanded an army fight a war on a budget. I think it’s more of an ego thing. Flying little prop-driven planes is pretty un-cool in the jet jockey/strategic bomber world. Driving rat patrols is pretty uncool in the army. Only the French seem to have a force for the Fulda Gap and a separate force equipped and trained for colonial wars, and no one ever got promoted by suggesting they should emulate the French.


This is a really good discussion I have been following, but we try not to interfere. The one key point I want to highlight is the fetishization of SF. The one other huge problem is that SF has an amazingly strong Public Affairs team, which highlights the successes and minimizes (or even glorifies) the failures. In a way, SOF can’t lose; they always look good. The reality is much more murky, and SOF can’t win a war on its own, it needs regular units. In fact, well trained regular units would have the best chance to “win” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ll write on this in later posts hopefully.


The public affairs angle doesn’t really surprise me. Most forces have been working that angle for years, so it’s no surprise that subsets of forces (like SOF) have jumped on that bandwagon, though it is a bit ironic given their supposed secretive ‘operate from the shadows’ culture which has led to supposedly antagonistic relations between units, commanders, and those who publish memoirs. But those memoirs have been doing the pubic relations work for years, and I suspect that in many cases they’re published with a wink and a nod in the effort to re-write history. US SOF have struggled to overcome the perception surrounding them from Desert One, Grenada and Panama. As you note, some of the memoirs are all about turning glorifying defeats as Boys Own tales super-heroic valour. The rest of the public affairs campaign has been built around that effort.

But back to books – military memoirs tend to fall into one of three categories: tales of daring-do; name-dropping efforts to burnish credentials; and efforts to contribute to military thought. This leads back to the origin of the Lone Survivor posts and the fact that this book apparently falls into the first category, which is typical of the SOF genre (see second sentence of this review here: http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vol13/no..). It’s pretty rare to find any military memoir that falls into the third category (I’d say Smith’s The Utility of Force _is probably the best example in general), and to find a SOF book that falls into any but the first category is highly unusual (McRaven’s Spec _Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare is the closest thing that’s SOF-specific but doesn’t count as memoir, and some of de la Billiere’s books straddle the spectrum). The ‘sin’ of the first category is that they give unrealistic expectations of capabilities, but anyone with a bit of real experience can see through that.

The main point of irritation that I’ve experienced has nothing to do with their memoirs, but rather their relationships with conventional units. I understand (though don’t always agree with) the rules or principles that they follow (Humans are more important than hardware; Quality is better than quantity; Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced; Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur; Most Special Operations require non-SOF assistance). The last point is the main problem, as it’s viewed as a one-way street. Conventional forces are often roped into supporting SOF missions, but it’s impossible to get SOF support to conventional missions. In particular, there’s strict compartmentalising of intelligence, which can be infuriating. The other problem is that more and more missions are becoming SOF missions. It’s as if you have to pass selection to learn how to turn a doorknob.


I am sick to death of experts about guerrilla warfare. Each incident is different because of geography, people, cause and effect. What works in one locale does not in a different scenario. Empathy is a bad joke. When one faces an implacable foe motivated by a belief system that is alien how does one empathize?

What works suffices. Torture worked in Algeria as it did in Indochina but may have failed for others in different scenarios and cultures. Free fire zones work everywhere. They exist everywhere in every war. Restricted ROE do not work. The use of Kit Carson troops works but has its side effects.

This book fails to mention the act of mercy (a poor decision) cost the entire Seal team its existence with the exception of one man. So much for humanity.


Veritas – I agree completely with you about experts about guerrilla warfare. That’s exactly what Lone Survivor purports to be, even though it has many key errors.


On experts about guerrilla warfare: Mao wrote of the need for the guerrilla to move through the people like fish through the water. What both insurgents and counterinsurgents tend to forget when shifting theatres is that (to continue the analogy) each sea is a different ecosystem and requires different adaptation and evolution in order to thrive.

@Veritas – you seem to imply that we should simply throw rule of law out and use whatever tactic works. I couldn’t disagree more. Military action must always be in support of political goals, and since western politics are based on rule of law, so too must be military actions – especially when fighting wars that have no bearing on our cultural survival. Politics first, then strategy, and then tactics. That said, I encourage you to read this post http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2013/05/one-sid.. and invite you to write up some best practices for the application of war crimes in COIN. I will happily debate them in the context of applicability by western governments.


I found this site linked to the new movie for Marcus Luttrell’s book’s. What a Crock. You are discussing a book and a movie, both that were created to make money. Get over yourselves

Your premise “On Violence” shouldnt include War. It fits in the spontaneous or unprovoked acts we see between individuals not state sponsored actions. War is controlled and has “rules”. Violence is not. War is inadvertently managed and justified as moral. Violence is not. Your small brains can’t comprehend the true definition of violence. This site is driven by individuals with chips on their shoulders of never being relevant as a military officer and being that guy that was told to sit at the kiddie table since you didn’t have the honor, the fortitude, or the drive to be in an elite unit. The rest of you are the ones we hear all the time, oh, I was going to join the military, but my job at Taco Bell got in the way.

You have no experience, intelligence, and success in this subject or any subject concerning war. You just sound pathetic and stupid.


It’s kind of funny to see a troll at work on another blog. I had plenty of this kind (and even more advertisement spammers) before I switched to comment approval.

(S)he got his facts wrong, went ad hominem and displayed a readiness to assert for sure stuff (s)he could not possibly know for sure (and is actually contradicted elsewhere).

It’s almost as if there was some kind of troll tribe somewhere, with a homogeneous culture and every member acting exactly the same.


I’m entertained.


Right, your comment makes no sense except to support my observation. You don’t speak Latin. Do you actually know what Ad Hominen means? Why did you not attack my argument, not me as a troll?

Your comments show you are not trained or experienced in COIN, talking about Gliders and Motorcycles, please. You re the expert since we don’t use either of those airframes in country. Why did you not discuss COIN at an educated level instead showing your ignorance discussing irrelevant execution points. What is sure stuff? Is that the stuff that is sure? Did you make that up to sound smart. Send me a link to anything you have published on COIN or military tactics? Your credentials?

Oh, I am sure you have none except that you talked to guy once that was in SOF. I assert one thing, your comments on COIN and SOF show ignorance and are funny to read. Anyone involved with SOF knows You don’t know what you are talking about except the other ignorant fools you draw in.

Again simple contradiction, Luttrell’s book and action was one part of a larger COIN Strategy. His portion, which was S&R and DA, doesn’t incorporate the complete COIN strategy. The claim of no training or approval for interrogations cannot be proven let alone be relevant. Again, you don’t understand COIN so you judge pieces versus segments. Your discussion is appropriately suspended in the irrelevant and not on real substance. Maybe if Luttrell had a Buffalo, a glider, or more ammo your expert opinion could extend the discussion into more ignorance.

Military Service 27 years, SOF 21 years, MA Government, Harvard University, I also don’t live with my mother!


I sense a stand-up comedy talent. Open your mouth to a general audience in a comedy setting and it will laugh (and feel pity for you).

I mentioned motorcycles because they are not in much use (the Lithuanian SF and the Afghan security forces use them, for example). The Taliban use them to shadow foreign troop movements.

About your reading skill: “sure stuff” was actually “for sure” and “stuff”.

About SOF and credentials: You guys are losing (or at least not winning after 12 years against a quite shitty opponent). Why would anybody respect the credential of being a loser?

You have no idea about what I understand or don’t understand. You’re clueless in this (and not only this) regard.

An advice for life, particularly life outside of the nanny state that any military is: Don’t show your hostility and aversion to anybody before asking him for information. He or she will not be inclined to answer or be nice to you afterwards.


Oh, BTW

“Send me a link to anything you have published on COIN or military tactics?”

This Cracked Me Up! :)


I just want to apologize to the readers for us not taking down Shane C’s comment before anyone had to read it. Our standing policy is to delete any comments which make personal attacks. Whether considering the Army values (respect), religious values (do unto others) or just general etiquette (civility), personally attacking another person does nothing to further debate or improve society. It also makes our blog less pleasant to read.

We also want to thank the regular commentors who routinely avoid such behavior. We appreciate it.

Sven- Going to a comment approval system is something we would do if we had more time. I would also try to delete anonymous commenting because I doubt people would be as willing to spew hatred and insults if their names were behind it.