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    31 January 2007

    "Hearts and Minds" - Remember That Old Phrase?

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    Finally a non-biased think tank (although some of you may say it is a biased think tank because it doesn't back up your belief system) has forcefully stated that reality that military might alone will not win the war in Iraq or more importantly the War on Terrorism. In fact, these enhanced efforts to further militarize the theaters could have (and I would argue have had) an adverse affect on our stated goals. This is an assertion I've mentioned many times in the past and hold on to today more than ever.

    From this mornings International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) general press release:
    The IISS in the 2007 Military Balance again analyses the challenges of complex irregular warfare, this time assessing the psychological component. Our judgement is that military planning procedures need to incorporate so called ‘influence activities’ as an integral part of pre-deployment preparation for complex warfare missions. Without this deeper perception of the mission environment, operations will lack the necessary ingredient for long-term success.

    Reuters reports:
    "But Western militaries have shown insufficient capability in their own attempts to carry out information and psychological operations, its annual report, "The Military Balance," said.
    ...
    "The psychological effect at home is one of military success and may generate political support. In the theater of operations the opposite may be true, with every publicly announced kill delivering more willing recruits to the cause."
    ...
    The IISS said more attention needed to be paid to finding out what really mattered to the local population, and using cultural and psychological understanding to undermine support for insurgent movements.

    "Units being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are not being provided with the training to enable them to have a real, positive psychological impact on the population in their area of operations," it said.

    In short, we need to understand the enemy, we need to appeal to the people, and we need to quit placing military might above politics as soon as possible. We will loose the battle for the hearts and minds and the War on Terrorism if we ignore the realities of blowback and the adverse effects of our foreign policy. You can say that you will not give up cheap oil, or bow to the terrorists, or whatever talking point you want to use...

    But I want to limit the recruitment and appeal terrorists have currently. I want to win this war. You are not going to win this war with military might, but you will prolong it. And ultimately you will be an accessory to failure.

    Posted by Geoff

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