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Embracing the Fog of War

Embracing the Fog of War: Assessment and Metrics in Counterinsurgency

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 340
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Embracing the Fog of War
    Book Description:

    The unpredictable counterinsurgency environment challenges centralized, quantitative campaign assessment. A comprehensive examination of the centralized, quantitative approach to assessment, as described in the literature and doctrine and applied in two primary case studies (Vietnam and Afghanistan), reveals weaknesses and gaps and proposes an alternative process: contextual assessment.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-6840-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables and Text Boxes
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxvi)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxix-xxxii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    This monograph examines how combatant staffs and policymakers assess and describe the progress of counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns and provides an in-depth analysis of the military assessment process for COIN. It also offers a critique of current doctrine and the performance of military campaign assessment across three case studies (Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan). The purpose of this analysis and critique is twofold: (1) to identify the complexities and challenges of COIN assessment and (2) to frame standards and best practices to facilitate improvements to COIN assessment. The ultimate purpose is to help improve operational and strategic doctrine and practice for COIN...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Concepts That Shape Counterinsurgency Assessment
    (pp. 19-36)

    The purpose of this chapter is to lay the groundwork for a focused examination of centralized assessment processes (EBA and pattern and trend analysis), as well as the Vietnam and Afghanistan case studies. To determine best practices for assessment, it is necessary to understand policymaker requirements. It is also important to know how the COIN environment will affect the ability to collect and analyze information. Ideally, this understanding should provide a common foundation for the development of a more effective assessment process that could be adapted to meet the unique challenges of any current or prospective campaign.

    This chapter describes...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Centralized Assessment Theory and Pattern and Trend Analysis
    (pp. 37-58)

    The previous two chapters described the process and requirements of assessment, as well as the challenges that the complexity and chaos of COIN pose to assessment analysts. This chapter introduces the concepts and theories that have shaped the two existing approaches to assessment examined in this study: EBA and pattern and trend analysis. Both of these approaches are centralized and almost entirely quantitative. Each relies on the idea that the people, groups, and physical places and things in the COIN environment constitute a system that can be framed and assessed through systems analysis. EBA is explicitly linked to systems analysis...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR The Effects-Based Approach to Assessment
    (pp. 59-78)

    Chapter Three described the general approach to centralized assessment with a focus on one of the two assessment methods used by the U.S. military (pattern and trend analysis). This chapter describes the other approach, effects-based assessment, or EBA. EBA is the U.S. military’s official assessment process, according to doctrine as of early 2011. EBA is derived from EBO, a process rooted in conventional air operations but intended to be applied across the full spectrum of military operations, from humanitarian relief to conventional warfare to COIN. To understand EBA, it is first necessary to understand some of the fundamental theories and...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Choosing Core Metrics
    (pp. 79-94)

    All centralized assessments, including both EBA pattern and trend analysis, use a set of “core metrics” to assess COIN campaigns. Core metrics serve a dual purpose: They direct the collection of what is deemed to be relevant information for the assessment, and they shape the analysis of information and data once they are acquired. Selecting core metrics for centralized quantitative assessment is tricky. What matters most and why? Is information available, or will the commander have to induce risk to get new information? How should a core metric be defined for military units in the field and for policymakers? Selecting...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Vietnam-Era Assessment
    (pp. 95-152)

    This chapter describes key elements of the Vietnam-era assessment process, examines the use and misuse of data in the resulting assessments and in policy decisionmaking, and ties this historical example to contemporary centralized assessment. It begins with an explanation of the assessment processes used during the Vietnam War era and then explores the details of assessment requirements, assessment methods, field collection, and reporting. The intention is to show how assessments and assessment data were used in the military and civilian strategic decisionmaking processes of the period and why lessons from Vietnam are relevant to Iraq and Afghanistan. Assessment efforts in...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Assessment in Afghanistan
    (pp. 153-170)

    The Vietnam case study offers a comprehensive view of the COIN assessment process from data collection in the field to policy support. It is also a static historical case and is therefore relatively easy to dissect and explain compared to ongoing cases. The definitive scholarly work on assessment of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns has yet to be written. And due to classification and the ongoing nature of operations, neither of these contemporary cases can provide the kind of detail and perspective offered by the Vietnam case. Nevertheless, Iraq seems particularly suited to examination because the war there is nearing...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Why Does Centralized Assessment Fail in Counterinsurgency?
    (pp. 171-206)

    This chapter builds on the Vietnam case but specifically reflects the findings on assessment in Afghanistan and (to a lesser extent) Iraq. Before answering the question posed in the title of this chapter (Why does centralized assessment fail in COIN?), it is worth reiterating a point made in the introduction to Chapter Seven: A poorly conceived process—not the individuals executing the process or receiving its output—is the primary reason for the inherent weaknesses of U.S. military COIN assessment. More than a year of research, several years of personal involvement with the COIN assessment process, and numerous interactions with...

  17. CHAPTER NINE Conclusions, Recommendations, and Options
    (pp. 207-226)

    Military campaign assessment is an arcane process that receives little attention until it fails. The assessment process failed in Vietnam, thereby contributing to the poor policy decisionmaking that led to America’s first major COIN defeat. Assessments of the Afghanistan campaign suffer from many of the same drawbacks as the Vietnam-era assessments, but the Afghanistan campaign is ongoing. As of this writing, the United States does not intend to fully transition the leading role for the security of Afghanistan to the Afghan government until 2014. In any event, assessment is likely to continue after this transition. This leaves sufficient time for...

  18. CHAPTER TEN A Proposed Alternative to Centralized Assessment
    (pp. 227-242)

    This chapter explores in greater detail the alternative to centralized COIN campaign assessment proposed earlier in this monograph. Tentatively called contextual assessment, or CA, this concept was developed over the course of this research effort to meet the specific needs of COIN campaign assessment; it is not necessarily appropriate for other types of military assessment. The process presented here is derived from a number of sources reviewed for this study and is framed on existing models of military reporting. Specifically, the model is based in the description of warfare found in MCDP 1,Warfighting, and FM 3-0,Operations, as well...

  19. APPENDIX A Contextual Assessment Template
    (pp. 243-250)
  20. APPENDIX B Notional Example of a Brigade/Regimental-Level Contextual Assessment
    (pp. 251-260)
  21. APPENDIX C Phong Dinh Province Report
    (pp. 261-272)
  22. APPENDIX D Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Military Assessment, September 1967
    (pp. 273-278)
  23. APPENDIX E Debate over Effects-Based Operations
    (pp. 279-288)
  24. Bibliography
    (pp. 289-308)