Tuesday, May 5, 2009

FM 3-24.2 Tactics in Counterinsurgency

After being published and quickly taken off from the US Army Combined Arms Center last April, copies of the manual appeared in several blogs and websites.

Now it is available from the "Small Wars Journal" website.

It is very exciting to witness doctrine in the making.

The field manual is 300 pages long and I'm still reading it. Two stray thoughts about it:
  • From the point of view of employing armed forces to kill insurgents/enemy combatants the US Army never suffered major tactical defeats in the recent past. This field manual not only revises the employment of troops for the destruction of enemy combatants/insurgents but also integrates such activity with wining the hearts and minds of the civil population and preserving the civilian infrastructure. This is not a trivial thing.
  • Some parts are really eye catchers. Like this passage in section 5.2 (Characteristics of the Offense):
    The characteristics of the offense are surprise, audacity, tempo, and concentration. For COIN, an additional characteristic, flexibility, is added.
Wait a minute, I thought that flexibility was always a part of the offense ... :)
  • Some other parts are surprising, at least to me. Like when the manual lists the types of offensive operations, one of them is "movement to contact", which includes search-and-attack and cordon-and-search operations. In my understanding, the greatest problem in battling insurgencies is that the enemy combatants always have the choice of when and where to show up. Movement to contact may be a bit too optimistic IMHO. But the actual surprise to me is that in the manual there is a mention of using reconnaissance forces to find the insurgents. Regular recce units?


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