Shortchanging the Joint Fight? An Airman's Assessment of FM 3-24 and the Case for Developing Truly Joint COIN Doctrine [open pdf - 354KB]
"Is America's counterinsurgency (COIN) effort being shortchanged? Does a one-dimensional doctrine fail to exploit America's full COIN potential? Would a genuinely joint approach provide better options to decisionmakers confronted with the harsh realities of twenty-first century insurgencies? This study insists the answers are unequivocally 'yes.' It analyzes the pitfalls of accepting Army/Marine tactical doctrine as the joint solution. It also offers insights and ideas from an Airman's perspective for strengthening joint COIN doctrine development in order to deliver fresh alternatives to our national decision-makers and combatant commanders. Of central importance to this assessment is the Army's December 2006 Field Manual (FM) 3-24, 'Counterinsurgency' (designated by the Marine Corps as Warfighting Publication 3-33.5). This impressive and influential 282-page document skillfully addresses many difficult COIN issues, but regrettably reflects a one-dimensional, ground-centric perspective almost exclusively, as evidenced by the fact that considerations of airpower are confined to a short, five-page annex. By failing to reconcile the full potential of today's airpower capabilities and by focusing almost exclusively on the surface dimension, FM 3-24-- despite its many virtues and remarkable insights--nevertheless falls short of offering US decision-makers a pragmatic, 'overall' solution for the challenge of counterinsurgency. Yet, despite FM 3-24's limitations, it has become viewed as the overall plan for COIN operations in Iraq. Of further concern are reports that FM 3-24 appears poised to become the centerpiece of new 'joint' COIN doctrine whose development has just begun. This paper argues that winning COIN fights requires exploiting the potential of the entire joint team."
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/