Senator Lindsey Graham believes that if night raids end then this would be a “disaster” for General Petreaus’ strategy – that in effect, he will fail. The raids, he said, were crucial to the military strategy. Now wait a minute, night raids run counter to COIN principles, so why all the drama? Pull out FM 23-4, the COIN bible Petreaus authored and waxes soothingly to elected officials and policymakers, and review its core principles. To win, you need the support of the populace. Both the insurgent and the counter-insurgent need the support of the populace to win. COIN doctrine obviously allows for targeted kinetic operations that are nested to COIN operations, but if you begin to lose support of the population, to the point where their elected leaders condemn a particular targeted kinetic operation (i.e. night raids), then it is time to swallow the truth and adjust accordingly. Unless, at this point, you really can’t adjust your operational tempo (i.e. over-reliance on CT) because the seeds of COIN and the requisite scrip paid to the death merchant won’t take hold in Afghanistan until after the July 2011 (or for that matter 2014). Or maybe Petraeus can’t change or adjust night raid tactics, because the truth is, the much heralded COIN strategy is simply a chimera, and he knows it.
What we do know is that Petreaus will provide metrics of success to the White House during its ongoing policy review, but it will be hard to square the fact that the real successes on the ground these past 10 months have been a result of Counter-Terrorism operations and not the application of Counter-insurgency doctrine. I can see his first Power Point slide now, an amended opening quote from George Orwell that reads, “No one in Afghanistan sleeps safely at night, because rough men visit violence on them, sometimes as often as 17 times a night . . .”.
More proof that the 9mm Beretta lacks the punch in combat. Marine Forces Special Operations Command operators will officially be issued .45-caliber semi-automatic pistols and replace the 9mm Beretta because the .45 larger caliber provides more stopping power. The exact M45 Close Quarter Battle Pistol will be determined by a competition that began in October. The open question that remains unanswered is when will the entire stock of 9mm Beretta’s issued to all services be replaced with a higher caliber semi-automatic pistol? Why train troopers to fire two rounds of a lower caliber to defeat a threat when one .45 round is oftentimes sufficient? SFTT will continue to monitor this development and inform the public, elected officials, and policy makers that troops deserve a side-arm with real stopping power.
The XM25 Counter Defilade Targeting Engagement System will certainly compliment Infantry squads and Special Operations units. If the system works as designed, troopers will have the ability to place an air-burst 25mm round over the threat hiding behind a wall or other cover out to 700 meters. While being touted as a “smart weapon”, in reality this system will add to the arsenal to apply critical fires where the current inventory of weapons can’t engage. The program manager states that the XM25 is a “game changer” and that it will “essentially take cover away from the enemy forever”. But before we place a stamp of approval on the XM25 we still have to take into account: the basic load and weight of the system, maintenance requirements, batteries, spare parts, contractor support issues, training, tactical adjustments, collateral damage, and overall costs – these are issues that SFTT will monitor as the XM25 is fielded and put into active operation across the base force.