Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Dissertation: Dhofar Rebellion Part 10

I met with the Director on Monday and gave him a rundown of my revised dissertation plan. He was onboard with it, so I'll be proceeding with that in the waning days of August. I've reached a point where I just have to suck it up and finish actually writing the damned thing. The research is mostly done and dusted, so now it's just a matter of filling the sections with text and occasionally checking a source or two so that I have something to cite to justify all of the things that I already know. That's a bit of an annoyance, but I'm meticulous, detail-oriented, a bit of a perfectionist, and a bit of a workoholic (go figure), so it must be done.

Two of the sources that I have copies of are We Won a War by John Akehurst and SAS Operation Storm by Tony Jeapes. Brigadier Akehurst was the second of two commanders of the forces in Dhofar (after Brigadier Jack Fletcher), and Jeapes was an SAS squadron commander, and later the commander of all SAS operations in Oman. I started reading Jeapes' book on Monday, only to find out that it's focused almost entirely upon the SAS, and not on the overall war effort. It's still been valuable, but that means I'll have to go through both books in the next couple of weeks to ensure that I'm not missing any glaring details about the conflict. I've also been reading The Third Way of COIN: Defeating the Taliban in Sangin by Dr. Mark Moyar, and will be reading Victory in Hades: The Forgotten Wars of Oman 1957-1959 and 1970-1976, Part 2: The Dhofar Campaign 1970-1976 (Part 1, Part 2) by S. Monick. There's so much spinning around in my head right now, and I love the sensation, but it's sort of exhausting and I'll be relieved when it starts to calm down.

One of the things I'm going to be writing about is sufficient and efficient resourcing for COIN campaigns, and particularly commensurate force strength. I'll be using a couple of quotes on this topic in my "Part 2" once the actual dissertation is complete, and these deal specifically with Afghanistan, Iraq, and the size of the Army and Marine Corps after the pending Afghan withdrawal.
TR: "On the one hand, one thinks that this initial, opening move, which seems to have been so critical to the British campaign, one hand there was a strategic logic to it, so the British had insisted on a change of governor to a new governor, Mohammed Daoud, he said to the British, 'I need you to go up to the northern towns because they're under threat', the British commander on the ground said 'Well, I need to do this because we need to support the governor'. But on the other hand, of course, there was this notion that he was desperately overstretched, he had, he had six, really only four helicopters available, he had only a few hundred men, so he had to put small packages in, so the interesting thing is, to what extent, though, should he have said, 'I can't do this, I'm just gonna stick to the plan, which is to stay in Lashkar Gah in the center of Helmand, and hard luck, governor', or to what extent was he correct in saying 'We're the Parachute Regiment, we take risks, that's what we're paid for, that's what we're paid the big bucks for, and so we'll attempt a risky operation, which didn't come good in the end?"
JR: "Personal view, I think it was a bad decision to do what he did, I recognize why he did it, coming as he did from a special forces background. But, we knew from Iraq, from al Amara and places like that, from Geresda where I was the force commander in Bosnia, what happens when you put small groups of forces in isolated positions. You spend all your time trying to sustain them, and then rescue them, to the exclusion of all else, they just become a magnet for trouble. This was really a decision which was above the brigade commander's paygrade, and the correct course of action would have been to say, 'Well, it's a policy objective that we support Daoud, Daoud interprets that to mean that we move into the north, you have resourced me to hold the center, if you wish me to support the governor and follow your policy, it requires more resources. What more resources are you going to supply?"
- Dr. Thomas Rid, King's College London Department of War Studies, and Lieutenant General (Ret.) Jonathon Riley, British Army, former Deputy Commander of ISAF (link)

* * *

"So when we attacked the city of Fallujah – now, just to give you a sense for how big Fallujah is – you know, it was in the papers, you know, in 2004. I mean, everybody was hinged on Fallujah. We had six infantry battalions surrounding Fallujah. Six. That’s it. Four Marines and two Army. And it took us, what, forty days to – forty days to beat the threat down and to force our will on a single city. What we’re talking about, the capability for the United States of America, is six infantry battalions worth of forcible entry capability for the entire United States of America as we look at the Marine Corps and we start talking forcible entry. That’s all we’re talking about. So for our country, as global power, as powerful as we are, we’re going to have the same capability that we had to force our will on Fallujah. I think that’s actually a pretty modest investment for a country that has global responsibilities. You don’t know when you may need to force your will on somebody, but it would be very nice for the President and the National Command Authority to have that capability."
- General James F. Amos, address to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 08 November 2012 (link)
More to come.

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