Kreistor wrote:*shakes head*
So many people don't understand how the insurgent strategy works. They think that since their strategy works, the larger force must be stupid or incompetent. Well, first, let's start with that small force. Does it take only cunning to win? Absolutely not.
1. Supplies. Without 'em, you starve.
Most insurgencies supply themselves with a day job. I don't think there's many full-time terrorists in your average insurgency.
2. Local support. If the locals don't assist you, they turn you in, and you have to keep movnig. Wihtout time, you can't plan, and all you can do is run until you can run no further.
3. Money. Closely related to supplies, but this comes down to maintaining 2 without stealing from the locals.
What do you spend money on if not supplies and munitions?
4. Access to munitions. This is the big thing that caused the US to succeed in Afganistan where the USSR failed. The US provided weapons to the mujahadeen during the 80's. In the US invasion, no one is doing the same, except in extremely limited form, so casualties are much, much lower.
Now, how does it all work? The insurgents hide, protected by a sympathetic populace. They find a target weaker than themselves and attack it. They then flee from the larger force that tries to hunt them down until it gives up. They then return, re-arm, and attack again.
Is there a solution? Yes. It's nasty. You won't like it. But when faced with a funded enemy with local support, there is only one solution. Destroy the local support. Outright annihilation of everyone, or at least until the locals realize that they either stop helping willingly, or they die and stop helping. It does work, if the larger force has the conviction to go through with it.
This doesn't seem logical to me. Won't this generate more local support for the insurgents, more recruits for the insurgents, etc. etc. until you're effectively at war with the entire population of the country? Wouldn't it be easier to just glass every population center without ever deploying any troops? Given the resources of a Goliath, can't you do much more good for the local population than the insurgency can ever dream of? Just walk up to the village headman and ask him what infrastructure he wants built, then build it.
Oh, right... one other solution. Go to war with whomever is funding your insurgent enemy. Win and then go after the unfunded insurgency. Yeah, just as attractive, eh? A big war to stop a little war.
An honest question here: Who's funding the Iraqi/Afghan insurgencies?
Is there any other solution? Well, there was one that worked for the Brits, but I'm not convinced it would work in all cases, especially where there are religious links between the populace and the insurgency. In one colony faced with insurgency in the 60's (I forget the name, sorry), they sent in the SAS. The SAS befriended the locals, providing food, medicine, etc., making life better. They kept all fighting away from the villages. Eventually, the local support was undermined, and the insurgency had no safe place to hide, so it was beaten. But, note, that took a long, long time. It was not a quick fix, and there was no political pressure from London to fix it immediately. Too often, the insurgents are causing massive damage creating a political will in the victimized peoples to suffer losses in a war. So the response is war, because politicos give people what they want. But the insurgency can counter this, too, if they lack morality. There are stories of Viet Cong cutting off the arms of any child inoculated by US forces. Fearing the insurgency can cause the locals to help out of fear, instead of sympathy.
At which point you give the locals guns and let them defend themselves. Will you be arming insurgents for free? Probably. But starving them for cash/munitions isn't going to work if they're not concerned with the moral high ground (they'll steal if they have to, and they're already running a low-cost operation). If they continue following this strategy, the insurgents will eventually find themselves at war with the entire population of the country, a population which will be remarkably well-armed thanks to the intervention of a Goliath.
The problem, ultimately, is not one of "talent" or "cunning" or "smartness". It's a problem of morality. An insurgent enemy is often immoral in the execution of their activities, including violations of the Geneva Convention such as hiding among civilians in civilian clothing, endangering civilians, and so on. The larger nation, however, is restricted by mandates of morality, and so are inherently hamstrung in how they can fight. This creates rules that the insurgents can abuse. Technically, the Geneva Convention need only be followed by a signatory when fighting another signatory, so in fighting an insurgency that has not signed the Convention, larger nations are not legally hamstrung: it is political hamstringing, placed there by a moral people that want to believe that morality will defeat immorality, so despite the Geneva Convention's lack of applicability, it is followed anyway.
When you're Goliath, morality will
defeat immorailty, so long as you're not stupid. No one wants to live in fear, and the Goliath is the one capable of arming the inhabitants of a country so that they don't have to. The insurgents already have guns!
You can look at it as stupidity if you want, but you're wrong. It's a problem inherent in the system of rules by which we limit the activities of our fighting forces. We cause our soldiers to die by asking them to be moral. When fighting an enemy that is reasonably moral, it works out okay. But against an immoral enemy, we suffer losses. That doesn't make our enemy smart, it makes our enemy immoral.
We cause our soldiers to die by being morons
who don't see the local population as an exploitable resource. Generally speaking the civilian population is seen as something which, if damaged, will bring bad press. Civilians are the resource that insurgents are fighting over. Because we try to fight the insurgents conventionally, we lose. Generally speaking the Goliath devotes all resources to destroying the insurgency, usually by trying to fight them conventionally. If the Goliath instead focused resources on making the civilians like them, the insurgency is given a choice between either sabotaging the Goliath's acts of goodwill (this plays into the Goliath's hands as they can then arm locals so that they can protect themselves from the insurgents, making every single village a hard target because the locals will eventually learn to shoot insurgents on sight) or attempting to continue fighting the good fight, in which case the people are rapidly going to discover that Goliath can do much more good for them than David.