Understanding the Operational Art of COIN
ISW has a great PDF up for free, the Operational Art of Counterinsurgency: A View from the Inside by
LTG James M. Dubik, U.S. Army (Ret.). This monograph provides a framework for understanding operational art in counterinsurgency campaigns, particularly those the U.S. and its allies conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. It uses the counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq during 2007 and 2008 as a case study. It draws upon the author’s experience in Iraq during this time, as well as interviews with a number of other civil and military leaders who served in Iraq during the surge period.
The term “operational art” describes the practice of using tactical military forces in sequence or
simultaneously; in battles, engagements, and maneuvers; and in a campaign or series of campaigns to achieve strategic aims. In conventional war, the product of successful operational art is linear: a front line that progress as enemy units are destroyed or captured, territory held by the enemy is liberated, and enemy capitals are seized.
What one sees as the result of operational art in a counterinsurgency campaign, at least for insurgencies
like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, is significantly different than from a conventional campaign. Operational art in counterinsurgency appears more impressionistic and mosaic: a complex series of
tactical, operational, and strategic transitions. These transitions require the employment of military, political, economic, and diplomatic “forces” in sequence and simultaneously…..(Click here for the PDF)