We often hear about the importance of the training component of counterinsurgency. Theoretically, the military endgame in Iraq and Afghanistan is not to defeat the insurgents so much as to empower the Iraqi and Afghan security forces to defeat the insurgents. The recent fighting in Basra but especially in Sadr City illustrates, among other things, both the importance of Iraqi units doing the fighting, as well as their limitations in doing so. Nevertheless the Army still doesn’t have a coordinated training program or doctrinal approach to military advisors. It’s a subject that’s getting more attention these days, and Kip over at the newly Abu-less and freshly repainted Abu Muqawama has a useful series on what a coherent advisor component would look like. Part one on the training of advisors is here, and part two on the training of commanders in the use of advisors just went up here.
The disconnect between what the Army expects and what the Army encounters is nothing new. It’s the stuff of a good deal of American war literature and cinema, both tragic and comic, dating back to WWII. One of the most impressive aspects of this war effort has been the military’s rapid doctrinal response to a situation for which it, and the civilian commanders who deployed it, were unprepared. But that shouldn’t blind us to the fact that this is an unavoidable aspect of war, and that we’re almost certain to be as unprepared for the next one as we were for the last.