Sunday, August 16, 2015

COIN and Social Psychology

A new manual recently published is entitled Trust, Attitudes, and Social Influence: The Cross-Cultural Social Psychology of Counterinsurgency. The abstract below describes the pub.
"Dr. Sarai Blincoe wants to provide soldiers with what she believes to be the most effective weapon in contemporary warfare: not an M-16 but the ability to win the trust of local civilians. How U.S. armed forces can leverage psychology to wage successful counterinsurgencies in places like Iraq and Afghanistan is spelled out in a recently published manual co-authored by the Longwood psychology professor. The key to gaining the political support of the local population is understanding and utilizing principles of persuasion, influence and trust, accompanied by cross-cultural awareness, say Blincoe and her co-authors."
Well, everything above is true. But in Afghanistan, even though someone wants to use the methodology described above, there are other factors that will hinder a counterinsurgency effort. For one, massive corruption within the host nation government will be a stumbling block - eroding popular support for the government and security forces. Another problem is the illegitimacy of the supported host nation government (fraudulent elections are an Afghan pastime). Still a third is a host nation army modeled after western conventional armies (with the requisite D-30s, C-130s, MRAPs, multi-echelon corps level operations, etc.). That doesn't mean that the publication presented above is not useful. After all, the war in Afghanistan is a counterinsurgency fight. I know the Resolute Support HQs crowd would say the RS mission is Security Force Assistance (SFA) through its regional and centrally located Train, Advise, and Assist Commands or TAACs but the ANDSF are doing counterinsurgency (or at least they should be). So the pub is worth a read if you are a commander or advisor in Afghanistan.

Read a description of the publication in "Psychologist hopes to aid counterinsurgency efforts with social psychology manual", Longwood University News, August 14, 2015.

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