Monday, March 5, 2007

cnd manual: fight wars and win hearts ...

Forces to issue guerrilla war manual
Publication aimed at helping troops battle insurgencies

David Pugliese, CanWest News Service March 05, 2007

The Canadian Forces will for the first time publish a counter-insurgency manual to give troops and their commanders insight into how to fight guerrilla wars and win hearts and minds.

The 250-page manual, Counter- Insurgency Operations, will be published by the army by the end of the summer.

Major David Lambert, who writes army doctrine and procedures, said it is believed to be the first time the service has issued a book governing such operations, although from a historical perspective guerrilla warfare is not new for Canadians.

"There is quite a lengthy list of counter-insurgency operations we've done in the past, starting with my ancestors fighting George Washington's Americans and going all the way to the Fenian Raids and the Northwest Rebellion," Maj. Lambert said. "Those can all be classified as insurgencies and counter-insurgencies but we've never had a formal doctrine for it."

The Canadian Forces has been playing a leading role in the counter-insurgency campaign in Kandahar over the past year. In fact, the Afghanistan mission has dominated the military's international commitments since it began after the terrorist attacks on the U.S. in September, 2001. Forty-four Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed during operations in Afghanistan.

Maj. Lambert said a draft form of the counter-insurgency manual was initially developed in electronic form two years ago using a British army publication as a starting point. It was sent to training officers. This final printed version will be distributed right across the army and include lessons learned from the U.S. and Britain as well as Canadian experiences in Afghanistan and Haiti.

"It's written for the operational level but to inform the strategic and tactical level," he said. "It aims at the philosophy and principles and overall concepts in which your lower level tactics and procedures are conducted."

In December the U.S. Army and Marine Corps issued their new counter-insurgency manual, which highlighted examples from wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam as well as past campaigns in the Philippines and South America.

Maj. Lambert said fighting insurgents requires the same basic military skills that were useful during the Cold War and other previous conflicts. "Whether you're doing an attack against a Soviet position or an attack against an insurgent strongpoint, the principles are still the same but the context [is different]," he added.

In that context, gaining the support of the local population is vital to winning a counter-insurgency campaign and that goal might affect how missions are planned, he said.

For instance, during some operations in the Kandahar area, NATO dropped leaflets warning that it was about to launch an attack. The hope was that the leaflets would provide advance warning for the local population to leave the area so that civilian casualties could be averted. At the same time the leaflets could have an effect to convince local fighters who may not be hardcore Taliban to withdraw from the area.

Some Canadian soldiers, however, have complained that giving advance warning only allowed insurgents to make better preparations to fight NATO.

Defence analyst Martin Shadwick said considering Canada's ongoing involvement in Afghanistan the development of a counter-insurgency manual makes sense. Mr. Shadwick, a strategic studies professor at Toronto's York University, said it would also be valuable for Canada to study Australian efforts in counter-insurgency operations.

But he noted it is important the military doesn't just focus on counter-insurgency missions. He pointed out that Arctic warfare expertise, which has been lacking in the past several years, will also be important in the future because the Harper government has highlighted its intention of expanding the military presence in the north as a top priority.

Maj. Lambert said he doesn't believe the Canadian Forces is focusing mainly on counter-insurgency operations these days despite its ongoing commitment to Afghanistan. What is being done in counter-insurgency can also apply to other types of military campaigns, he adds. "Even in major combat you're still doing humanitarian relief, you're still doing other aspects other than the offensive and defensive," he said.