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The U.S. Army Professional Writing Collection draws from a variety of professional journals that focus on relevant issues affecting The Army. The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the official position of the Army. This micro-site seeks to stimulate innovative thinking about the challenges that may face tomorrow's Army. It is further intended that the articles featured on this site cause reflection, increased dialogue within the Army Community, and in the best case, action by Soldiers. Updated monthly, these articles are written by Soldiers, civilians, academics, and other subject matter experts. Links to various Army publications, Department of Defense journals and selected non-governmental defense-related publications are also provided on this site.

Changing the Army for Counterinsurgency Operations

The Leadership Legacy of John WhyteThe Army’s tardiness in adapting to the changing operational imperatives of Operation Iraqi Freedom Phase 4 was indeed a contributory factor in the coalition’s failure to exploit the rapid victory over Saddam achieved in the preceding conventional warfighting phase. Furthermore, its approach during the early stages of OIF Phase 4 exacerbated the task it now faces by alienating significant sections of the population. However, to conclude, as some do, that the Army is simply incompetent or inflexible, is simplistic and quite erroneous. If anything the Army has been a victim of its own successful development as the ultimate warfighting machine. Always seeing itself as an instrument of national survival, over time the Army has developed a marked and uncompromising focus on conventional warfighting, leaving it ill-prepared for the unconventional operations that characterize OIF Phase 4. Moreover, its strong conventional warfighting organizational culture and centralized way of command have tended to discourage the necessary swift adaptation to the demands of Phase 4. Its cultural singularity and insularity have compounded the problem, as has the recent so-called “deprofessionalization.”

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Information Operations, STRATCOM, and Public Affairs

Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, And ReconnaissanceLeading a strategic communications operation takes educated, experienced, seasoned communicators. In the civilian world, whether for political campaigns or for consulting or conducting business, those looking for leaders for important or strategic communications programs seek seasoned communications professionals with the requisite education, industry contacts, and years of experience. The Army tends to label senior public affairs and communications personnel as generalists and assigns people with virtually no communications education, training, experience, or contacts to lead the Army’s communications operations. Producing leaders for strategic communications during the information age requires more and varied training opportunities, improvement in leader development, and better resourcing of all communications-related operations to produce the right skills at the right levels and to ensure PAOs can be leaders in the strategic communications arena. The PA community must take a greater role in providing opportunities for its officers to grow and develop into seasoned, experienced communicators.


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Operation Knockout: COIN in Iraq

Why the Strong LoseOn 12 November 2005, coalition and Iraqi forces demonstrated again the flexibility and agility so necessary for counterinsurgency (COIN) operations against a smart, adaptive foe. After concentrating large-scale operations for months in Ninewah and Al Anbar Provinces northwest and west of Baghdad, coalition forces conducted a new, no-notice operation in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad. Named Operation Knockout, this successful action reinforced the tactics, techniques, and procedures needed to defeat the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq. In 21st-century counterinsurgencies one operation cannot win a war or even change the course of a conflict. But Operation Knockout certainly marks a positive stage in the development of the Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi Special Police proved to have a keen understanding of the fundamentals of COIN operations, as well as of the leadership, discipline, and training needed to execute those operations. By conducting an innovative, effective operation, they have given the insurgents and terrorists a new set of problems to adapt to and overcome.


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Maginot Line or Fort Apache? Using forts to Shape the Counterinsurgency Battlefield

Is There a Deep Fight in a Counterinsurgency?Fortifications and fortified field works have a bad reputation among casual military historians and experienced generals. The Maginot Line was bypassed, for example, and the conclusion was reached that fortifications are expensive, become obsolete rapidly, and are bypassed easily if not taken. Moreover, troops garrisoning fortifications are prone to defensive-mindedness and timidity. Offensive-mindedness and maneuver are preferred to indecisive, protracted fortification warfare. However, a good fortification plan can contribute to success in counterinsurgency, but fortification might also present advantages beyond the confines of military operations. The decisive and timely display of force is easily understood and can help minimize the danger of having to exercise that force. Some intimidation, therefore, is at times considered a useful part of gaining respect and conducting a successful counterinsurgency. Forts can provide the necessary show of force. Also, fixed fortifications allow foreign contingents to participate in a coalition strategy without the political exposure of direct offensive action. Finally, fortified buildings can be constructed for multiple uses so the eventual success of the strategy does not lead to scrapping the structures.


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