What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

William S. McCallister and Joshua Foust on approaching Pakistan's tribal areas

There's a very interesting back and forth going on between William S. McCallister and Joshua Foust, for which the venue happens to be my blog!
Below my brief intro I'm publishing William S. McCallister's response to Josh Foust's previous posting. And to make it easier for you to follow the discussion, I'll paste here some of the rest of it, too, from the comments section of an earlier post, in a reverse chronological order. So you can scroll down back in time if you wish.
MAC describes his methodology for the analysis of tribal relations now in much more detail than before. And he includes a telling, illustrative example of its application in Anbar. It is strong incentive to come up with concrete suggestions if and where a similar mental model should differ in the case of Pakistan's tribal areas. Because the model is useful. The earlier debate about whether there is the presumption of a static culture behind it was not relevant in order to prove MAC argued something that he didn't argue. Rather, for me it was indirectly about reckoning with the socially constructive nature of the model, its affecting - being partly constitutive and not merely descriptive of - reality through affecting the military's actions while those in turn alter the reality on the ground, potentially in a self-fulfilling way. But that's just a minor point of debate in light of the mental model itself: the model is significant anyway, regardless of how much self-fulfilling there is to come that may reinforce it. And that's why it should be refined further, if possible, for more productive application in the FATA. Or southern and eastern Afghanistan.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
March 8, 2008
William S. McCallister:
Dear Josh,
Thanks for your prompt response. In my opinion, the greatest challenge when engaged in discussion is the fact that we seldom look beyond the pre-packaged arguments. I ask that you indulge me and to allow me to share with you the thought process that is expressed in the final product i.e. the model or methodology. There is much divergent information gained from reflective observations of personal experiences and those of other disciplines, professions and occupations implicitly embedded in this model. The model is also linked to a specific strategy which I hope will translate into operational relevance for a specific target audience, organizational culture and professional body of knowledge in support of its mission. The development (in truth it is a continuous evolution) of this model embodies a process that occurs at various levels of internalization – from a tacit state of apprehension to a consciously knowing state of comprehension. I have not reached the consciously knowing state of comprehension as of yet, and in actuality do not believe such a state can ever truly be reached, but with the help of individuals like yourself, am ever motivated to continue in my quest.
Although we are discussing a model or methodology, we are in actuality discussing a mental model. When I present this methodology to my Marines in Anbar province whether Military Transition Teams, Police Transition Teams, or Regimental Line Officers and staffs, we focus on mental models. I’ve captured a number of discussion points in the next few paragraphs to give you an idea what the focus of the model truly entails.
We begin by defining to what extent individuals understand the existing personal or organizational mental process in play. How good are existing insights in how evidence is weighed in making judgments. Studies show that analysts assume an implicit “mental model” consisting of beliefs and assumptions that greatly influence which variables are most important and how they relate to each other. It follows that analysts should be able to identify and describe the variables they consider most important in making judgments. But that is not always the case.
Further studies show that experts tend to overestimate the importance of variables that have only a minor impact on their judgment and underestimate the extent to which their decisions are based on a few major variables. In short, people’s mental models are simpler than they think. As a matter of fact it is seldom more than one or two variables that are considered at any given time when assessing a given situation.
This revelation helps explain why additional information or adding variables does not normally improve predictive accuracy. Accuracy of judgment depends almost exclusively upon precision of the existing mental model for there is little other basis for judgment.
My quest is three fold. First, I seek to identify the existing personal or organizational mental model in play. A given mental model reflects assimilative knowledge and in the military is expressed in the form of doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP), lessons learned and other structures that begin to modify roles, norms and values within the community.
Secondly, how do these variables (doctrine, TTP, lessons learned and modified roles, norms and values that are an expression of this assimilated knowledge or mental model) influence a given military planner in the area assessment, mission analysis process and tactical operations?
Thirdly, by applying the mental model we now identify the variables considered when contemplating Anbar province or the FATA? Does the existing mental model or assimilated knowledge support the development of appropriate tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) for the theater strategic, operational and tactical levels of execution?
We agree that attempts at generalization can backfire in major ways. Since I believe that we can further agree that individual behavior is very difficult to predict I have chosen to focus on patterns of behavior. Due to my military background I have chosen to categorize behavior into three levels of expression. These three levels are the tactical, operational and strategic. If imagined in flows; events at the tactical level occur very fast, slower at the operational level and slowest at the strategic level. I am not so much interested in the specifics of individual or group identity per se but in the motivating factors or simple rules that form the baseline from which all subsequent behavior emerges. I first began to think in terms of simple rules while studying societal roles, norms and values. Human beings develop roles, norms and values through a socially constructed process. I believe that roles are the most visible aspect of this social construction. They are standardized patterns describing the behavior required of all persons playing a given part in society. A role reflects the recurring actions of the individual playing it. It is appropriately interrelated with the repetitive activities of others so as to yield generally predictable outcomes. When individual roles are combined, we create a social system or sub-system. Norms are less visible social manifestations than roles and usually reflect the general expectations of roles incumbent within a social system or sub-system. Norms imply or explicitly prescribe ethics that people interactively create and refer to in order to sanction behavior. Norms have a specific ought or must quality. Values are the least visible social manifestation and are generally ideological justifications for roles and norms. Values are more culturally rooted than roles and norms and frequently the baseline for making judgments. I believe that values, although malleable, are passed from one generation to the next as deeply hidden or tacit forms of assimilated knowledge, as are roles and norms to a lesser degree. Certain cultures and societies do so in a more pure form than others i.e. the Pathan culture vice U.S. culture. In short: roles provide a start point for me to look for “predictable behavior over time”. Norms may give me insights into simple rules of conduct and values a means to study how roles and norms evolve over time.
If charged with accomplishing a given military task; where do I as a planner start to make sense of the volumes of available information from multiple sources and individual perspectives that seek to explain the who and why of it all. I must caveat that I believe that all human behavior is grounded in psychology but I am not concerned with psychoanalysis but in categorizing expressed behavior. If I know nothing at all about the cultural operating environment I will soon be inundated with so much information that I will not know where to start and soon analysis paralysis sets in. The mental model, at a minimum provides the analyst with a start point to structure the analysis. I assume that the various roles, norms and values in play will express themselves over time into a distinct pattern of behavior. The cultural operating codes and coordinating messages provide the framework or mental model to assess the causal processes at work. Although roles, norms and values may have morphed and evolved remnants of these rules are likely still expressed in existing codes of behavior. Even the native born Taliban still adhere to remnants of Pashtunwali since the code was passed on from the previous generation before they chose to assimilate the ghazi mental model.
Remember, I know very little about the area or its people. I now take the calculated risk that certain older forms of “ought” or “must” behavior is still valid in given community. Although my knowledge of the target area may not reflect the most up-to-date indigenous behavior, I will assume that the people I am engaging retain some remembrance of these older rules and that once I am engaged in a relationship will at a minimum give me the benefit of the doubt that we are attempting to communicate within his cultural frame of reference. If I totally disregard Pashtunwali, regardless of whether it has morphed or evolved, I am fairly certain that we will culturally miss-communicate right from the start. I’d rather err on the side of Pashtun culture than believe that my own culture’s roles, values and norms (and by default our pattern of group behavior); much of which is implicitly expressed in my behavior and never explicitly challenged, are more appropriate to influence indigenous behavior. Although I am interested in personal interactions, I am more interested how our cumulative individual interactions evolve into a distinct pattern of group behavior.
It is at the operational level of behavior where the mental model is most applicable. How will a given tactical action such as the rise of the Albu Risha tribe in Anbar province, Iraq play itself out at the operational level i.e. what are the causal processes at work? I find that the shame and honor, segmentation or coalesce, patronage and territory codes are extremely helpful in structuring the analysis. I’ve attached a short real-world example for your consideration. Please note, much of the analysis is captured within the final product, but rest assured that the analysis is based on the mental model that exploits the cultural operating codes and Anbar specific coordinating message I speak of. I am willing to send you the accompanying assessments that delves more deeply into the analysis for a more detailed appreciation of the dynamic in play.
Subject: Possible sociopolitical trend development in Anbar province
General: Assessment of possible sociopolitical trend in Anbar province based on cultural operating codes and coordinating messages. All major decisions within the system and resultant causal effects based on four cultural operating codes and two coordinating messages. These are: shame and honor, segmentation, patronage and territory. The two coordinating messages are: “what have you done for me lately what will you do for me tomorrow” and “no stability without us”.
2. Near term tribal politics (three months) in Anbar. Defeat of AQI in Anbar province and resulting security and stability created conditions for increased inter and intra-tribal competition. Cultural operating codes in play are patronage and territory.
a. The Albu Risha, a third tier tribe continues to exploit existing security – economic patronage relationship with Coalition Forces.
b. Seeks to increase its influence and presence in non-Risha tribal areas. Goal: to control major portions of the trade route before sociopolitical culminating point is reached.
c. Albu Risha experiencing “push-back” by traditionally more legitimate families, houses and tribes. Coalition Forces have received veiled warnings that a number of houses and tribes are prepared to challenge Albu Risha attempts at hegemony. Coalition Forces approached as a sign of respect and since it is generally accepted that Coalition Force was primary patron of Albu Risha tribe.
*(See the text of the inscriptions below the current section of this post - P.M., as ed.)*
3. Near term provincial politics in Anbar. The Dulaymi Confederation seeks to remove Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) influence in Anbar. To this end the Sahawa al Iraq (SAI) shura and independent tribes are aligned to achieve this objective. Cultural operating codes in play are segmentation and territory.
a. Major houses and tribes united in goal to remove IIP from provincial governance. This alliance includes major tribal competitors such as the Albu Risha, Assafi (paramount Sheikh Amr represented by Sheikh Ali Hatem) house and Dawa party.
b. Dawa party (PM Maliki) has aligned itself with the SAI shura to counter the national IIP party’s coalition with Kurdish KDP and PUK parties.
c. Ministry of Oil (Dr. Hussein al-Sharistani) prepared to let fuel distribution contract to Sheikh Ali Hatem Sulayman al-Assafi in order to block IIP ability to attract supporters (patronage building efforts).
d. Profits will be shared equitably among participating members of the alliance (segmentation). The SAI shura is likely mechanism for central government i.e. Ministry of Oil engagement. e. Provincial IIP has already voiced its displeasure with development of events.
*(See the text of the inscriptions below the current section of this post - P.M., as ed.)*
4. Long term effects (one year) based on current situation. The Albu Risha understand that they are unable to maintain long-term control of competitor territory without conflict. The mid-term strategy of the Albu Risha therefore likely consists of gaining as much influence as possible in competitor territory so as to gain leverage in on-going negotiations determining the Albu Risha’s future ranking in the Dulaymi Confederation. The Albu Risha will cede territory so as to achieve a ranking above the one it held during the Saddam regime.
a. Albu Risha willing to cede influence in competitor tribal territory, especially if its security-patronage relationship begins to cool with Coalition Forces.
b. Traditionally more legitimate families, houses and tribes will cede Albu Risha use of SAI when designated a political party to gain access to resources and influence in the province, albeit within defined limits and render the tribe prestige in rank (legitimacy and credibility) within the Dulaymi Confederation.
c. Renegotiation of percentage of profits derived from trade route will take into consideration the new found status of the Albu Risha.
Hopefully we will talk more in the future.
* The inscriptions from the maps above (P.M., as ed.) *
- Main body of text on first map:
"The trade route; key terrain from a tribal perspective. Three areas are considered key terrain within the road network. The first is the al-Qaim area. The tribe that controls this area may benefit from trade as it enters and departs Iraq. The second is in Hadditha. Hadditha links the central Euphrates River Valley with Salah ad Din province to the north-east, feeder routes to Ninewa provinces to the north, al-Qaim to the west, Rutbah to the south-west, Ramadi to the east. Hadditha also hosts an oil refinery, dam, and railroad hub. The third key area lies due east of Fallujah. This area controls access into Anbar from Salah ad Din, Baghdad and north Babel provinces and therefore represents an area in which a tribe may also benefit from trade as it enters and departs Anbar province, very much like al-Qaim."
- Main body of text on second map:
"Trade route competition. Two Sahawa al Iraq (SAI) offices have publicised their intention of remaining "security" offices. One office is located in east Anbar adjacent to access routes from Baghdad and Babel provinces; the other office in Haditha positioned to control the central portion of the road network and within easy reach of al Qaim and Rutbah. The Albu Risha appear to be in an alliance with elements of the Jughayfi (Nimji sub-tribe) in the Hadditha area and are making a push to control Rutbah. Control of Rutbah will check the Albu Mahal in the first major market town in the Jordan - Syria - Iraq border area. The Albu Risha face stiff competition in east Anbar province. SAI is being checked by the Zaidon shura, Albu Issa and elements of the Albu Issa currently aligned with the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), maneuverings of the Jumayli and Zobai."
- The inscriptions on the second map, clockwise starting from top left:
1. "Albu Mahal respond to bloc Albu Risha influence in al Qaim and Rutbah"
2. "SAI in alliance with Jughayfi Hadditha District Police Support Unit Commander pressure Nimr in Hadditha and challenge Albu Mahal for control of al Qaim and Rutbah"
3. "Jumayli territory pressured by Albu Risha (SAI), Issa to the south-west, Zobai to the east, south-east, Iraqi Islamic Party to the west and AQI affiliated fighters to the north-north east"
4. "SAI challenged in Karmah, Abu Ghraib and Zaidon"
5. "SAI "security" offices established in Hadditha and east Anbar"
* * * * * * * * * * * *
March 7, 2008
Joshua Foust:
Mr. McCallister,
Thanks for the detailed response. I guess I'm a bit confused, however. You say you don't mean for these kinds of codes or rules of behavior to be generalizable, yet you seem to be pointing to the success of the Anbar model as a reason to generalize them. Am I misreading that, or is there some other dynamic you're reaching for (such as a tribal or sub-tribal understanding of the target population)?
Similarly, I appreciate -- perhaps more than you realize -- the need to target your methodology for the appropriate audience. However, as neither a military agent nor an academic, I also appreciate rigor: an inconsistent model or methodology helps no one in this kind of a context.
In fact, I believe you're talking about a framework (if you're just sticking to common definitions). A methodology would imply a standard set of actions (i.e. a means for inquiry), which could also imply a model -- something I think you disavow in this context, given its propensity for over-generalization. Understanding Pashtunwali is great, but the problem is that Pashtunwali itself is a fluid concept that is inconsistently applied on a situational basis. It can be followed or not followed, recompense can substitute for revenge, and there are no universal or clear rules for which concept applies when. I'm sure you realize this, but I don't understand why, then, you think Pashtunwali is still an appropriate baseline.
To clarify my comments: I didn't mean to accuse you of "filtering" through Pashtunwali, since we both agree and know you didn't say that. I just said the same process "reeks" of it, by which I mean it lends itself to the same analytical pitfalls. Far from "analysis paralysis," this is at the heart of the problem for how the U.S. military and civilian government continue to misunderstand the tribal areas. Thinking Pashtunwali is easily definable beyond generalities strikes me as a trap to be avoided, not a convenient shortcut to be exploited.
I don't intend to be so negative here, because I truly do think you're onto a good idea. I want you to succeed, in other words, but I've just seen similar attempts to generalize behaviors backfire in a major way. Especially in an area like FATA, where even the very idea of identity is fluid, generalizing back to simple rules poses huge risks. Think about which level of identity -- super-tribe, tribe, sub-tribe, division, clan, super-family, family, and so on -- someone chooses to identify himself. That is itself fascinating information (think of the Suleimankhel in the context of the Ghilzai), and can indicate something about where he considers his place in his community. But that level isn't standard, and from village to village people identify themselves according to an inconsistent metric that is as trivial as it is unpredictable.
So I guess what I'm getting at is, in stark contrast to the military's preferred modus operandi, when in particular discussing FATA there needs to be an understanding for a certain (I would argue "great" but couldn't do so comprehensively at the moment) degree of not just uncertainty but inherent unpredictability included in the discussion: These people live here and say they're this, but they could also be that, and for these reasons.
Relying on simple behavioral codes might allow for this sort of flexibility, but you should also realize that in a practical sense (i.e. when utilized on the ground) it probably will not.That is the pitfall I'm trying to highlight. Otherwise, I'm a big time fan of trying to refine this idea further.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
March 7, 2008
William S. McCallister:
Dear Mr. Foust,
I would like to start by placing the Pakistan article into context. The article itself was in response to a question whether the Anbar model would be appropriate in the North-West Frontier. I personally believe that the Anbar model may not apply in total whether in the rest of Iraq or the North-West Frontier. Each situation is different, period. On the other hand I do believe there are components that might be applicable but we must first conduct a very detailed area and target audience analysis before implementing this or any initiative. The intent of the article was to highlight the risks involved in becoming too deeply involved in a kinetic relationship with the Pathans since their social and historical experiences differ so very much from our own. In short: look before you leap.
The article also sought to encourage greater contemplation on whether the target audience would be receptive to our current types of kinetic or non-kinetic forms of communication. Therefore, we seem to agree that the Anbar model as defined by recruiting tribes or "extended families" to the cause is inappropriate for the North-West Frontier.
I am a bit surprised that a number of respondents have focused on disproving the cultural operating codes and coordinating messages model and its universal application; a point I never made nor believed to be true. Please also note that there is a difference between the "Anbar model" and my approach to providing a means to structure the analysis. Note that I do not retreat from my assertion that the codes and coordinating messages model or methodology is applicable in Anbar province. We can continue to debate the specifics of words, definitions, or my dilettante approach to defining human nature but the methodology seems to work for us in the western province of Iraq. Having said the above, we are still faced with developing a workable mental model for our soldiers and Marines operating in the areas under discussion. In my opinion, the critical requirement is to develop an “operationally relevant” mental model.
My target audience is the squad and platoon leader, company commander, Battalion Operations Officer, Battalion, Brigade and Task Force Commander and not academics. The Marines and soldiers I seek to assist are in the people business and when they complete their mission analysis, concepts such as “establish democracy”, “restore stability” or “secure” a given area translate into X amount of trucks, X gallons of fuel, a specific task organization and X amounts of 5.56 and 7.62 mm NATO ball. This in turn translates into MEDVAC frequencies and Quick Reaction Forces (QRF), but you get the picture.
A model in my mind is a simplified construct of the real world. A methodology on the other hand provides the analyst a means to structure the analysis. It provides for a common terminology and vocabulary and hence a baseline for continuous and more detailed study and analysis over time. Please note the phrase "continuous and more detailed study and analysis over time". Since the military is in the execution business a baseline terminology and vocabulary is needed.
Your comment highlighting the clever way I discount all the exogenous factors and historical ones that presently make the FATA a unique and particular vexing environment highlights the difference in our thinking and hence is akin to me discussing apples while having to answer questions about oranges. I've been studying the North-West Frontier of and on since Christmas 1979. Not that this means anything except that I actually appreciate the regions vexing idiosyncrasies.
My simplistic approach for understanding the people with whom we are interacting at the tactical level in the FATA is to study Pashtunwali as a baseline from which to adjust our behavior so as to effectively communicate intent within the target audience’s cultural frame of reference. Please note that I recommend gaining an appreciation for Pashtunwali from which to adjust our behavior. I never made the statement to "filter everything through Pashtunwali" those are your words. I advocate "generalizing" to a degree since I do believe we can all accept the truism that the devil is in the particulars and that we can spend much time on debunking this or that specific statement in what appears to me an attempt to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I only ask how much specificity can we endure before analysis paralysis sets in. A military organization can not afford analysis paralysis. The model is intended to preclude this effect and seeks to provide a mechanism to highlight the causal behavioral processes at work and to recognize patterns of behavior.
While I truly enjoy our discussion I will continue in my attempts to provide soldiers and Marines an operationally relevant methodology to assess the cultural operating environment. All the tribes or as it has been pointed out to me “extended families” I’ve studied, whether located in South Africa, Iraq or in the FATA seem to share a number of basic behavioral traits. These are the cultural operating codes and coordinating messages which appear to provide the framework for the causal processes at work and are repeatedly expressed in patterns of behavior.
What I am not attempting to do is unequivocally state universal truisms such as all leadership in tribes or extended families are based on bloodlines or kinship. Iraqi tribes may forego a given bloodline if the “other” is more able to provide for the good of the group. Fictive bloodlines exist in Anbar province. Nor do I seek to advertise this model or methodology as universally applicable or a silver bullet for any and every case. In my mind there is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. The model fits into the same category. If it works; use it. If it doesn’t; adapt it. If you can’t adapt it; discard it. In my mind it is as simple as that and the rationale for my “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater” comment. That comment of course is based on the assumption that the model or methodology has merit. If on the other hand you believe the model or methodology has no merit whatsoever then we are engaged in a completely different conversation.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
February 27
Joshua Foust:
"we are able to identify that a “refugee camp” mentality is still based on some simple cultural operating codes such as shame and honor, segmentation, patronage and territory and that it really doesn’t matter what (“worldview of the 1990s”, “new order”, Pakistani, Soviet Union or U.S. facilitation) shapes the dynamic but that the dynamic is based on some simple rules."
What a clever way of discounting all the exogenous factors that presently make FATA a unique and particularly vexing environment... to say nothing of the historical ones. McCallister is on to something, but he's not quite there yet. Generalizing Pashtun behavior from simple rules reeks of filtering everything through Pashtunwali, which is a mistake.
* * * * * * * * * * * *


Joshua Foust said...

Oh geez, you're getting into cognitive models of analysis -- a blog is a curious place to have this discussion :-)

I think part of the reason why I continue to balk at your framework of analysis is that I approach this from a decidedly non-military perspective (though, like you, I've worked with the military for some time). As such, I tend to draw from a more culturally relativistic, socio-political series of models.

In this sense, I immediately pull back at your levels of analysis. Tactical, operational, and strategic logic work great in Western concepts (by which I mean any sufficiently advanced or developed society—including all of the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and even vast swaths of Asia).

But there are immediate problems. You can't discount group or individual identity, because that is such a fundamental, motivating factor, at least amongst Pashtuns straddling the Durand Line. That they identify themselves according to a fluid and poorly-defined series of layers of identities (which I noted in my last comment) should speak to this: at any given moment, an individual in these areas is defining himself as a certain level of identity, and this level then dictates his response (which will often vary by level—threats against the person are not the same as threat against the family, clan, tribe, nation, and so on).

So this kind of viewpoint then affects everything else: the difference between "tactical" and "strategic" is meaningless, for example. The role, norms, and values Pashtuns and other NWFP tribals tend to identify themselves as are quite specifically filtered through the various levels and types of individual and groups identity you discount right off the bat.

As an example, we can look at the Dir Valley. About fifteen years ago, an anthropologist named Lincoln Keiser wrote about his experience in dealing with a community in a highly inaccessible region of Dir district in NWFP Pakistan, sandwiched between Swat and Afghanistan ("Friend by Day, Enemy by Night: Organized Vengeance in a Kohistani Community"). One of the phenomena he catalogued was the highly variable way they behaved to outsiders, based on what kind of threat they represented: whether to self, family, community, society, or Islam (naturally, threats to Islam, like Mr. Keiser, were treated with utmost hostility, and after a few months Keiser was quite seriously contemplating acts of violence against them).

These might offer superior levels of analysis. Rightly or wrongly, many inhabitants of tribal areas don't view things in a context that lends itself to tactical, operational, or strategic thought—it is much more gut-level, reactionary, and even short-sighted. Keiser was reviled because they suspected him of working for the Pakistani government, whom they viewed as hostile to their way of life and destructive to the values they believed Islamic. That is the sort of assumption that must be overcome.

Now, viewing things through the lens of historical behavior and norms is a good one. But the major problem with these areas is that there has been extremely little work done in learning these rules and coda (which can, as various Kohistani communities attest, or even as the Nuristan/Kunar area show, vary tremendously from valley to valley). In fact, I'm unaware of any major work done in cataloging the existence, to say nothing of the values, preferences, and rituals of these communities in the last hundred years: the last major work of that sort was done by British gazetteers under the Empire.

I also think I miscommunicated my skepticism about Pashtunwali. You are absolutely right that it matters, as it does indeed form a baseline of behavior for many communities. However, not all communities in NWFP are Pashtun, though most have been influenced by Pashtun raiders over the last three centuries. Similarly, even within individual Pashtun communities (which, recall, vary tremendously from the more rabid parochialism of Parachinar to the relative liberalness of pre-Mehsud Swat), you can find a huge variation in how much Pashtunwali matters, is adhered to, or even maintained in a recognizable form. So think as long as we establish that it forms only a jumping off point for establishing a deeper understanding, we're both working on the same page.

As for the Anbar example you've given: it looks great. For Iraq. I still don't know, given the vast disparities between the Anbar and the NWFP experience, you can draw many lessons from it (aside from the pressing need to develop a culturally-relevant and specific operating model, which I believe you and I agree on). You know what? I would love to have the documents you used in creating this Anbar model. In fact, since I'm assuming you're in touch with Péter, please ask him for my email address (I'm hesitant to put it in a comment thread for fear of spammers), because I think we can benefit greatly from more conversation, some of which may not be entirely apropos in this context.

clynton said...

thought the anbar example reads like an anthropological monograph...that is to say this may be its most productive aspect....i say this in response to the discussion re theory..or at least the construction and development of one....i lack the expertise to comment upon model building however monograph as essental reading and hence awareness builder is in my mind no different than the diaries of lawrence of arabia for officers in the field.. it gives the feel it provides insight into complexity and process....As for our western propensity for model building that to my mind stands separate from what is the use value of the to coin a phrase 'combat monograph.' hope this is not an unwarented intrusion. clynton keel