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Linking Doctrine to Action: A New Coin Center-of-Gravity Analysis

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Abstract

Just as there is no one weapon that guarantees superiority in conventional warfare, there is no silver bullet when it comes to counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. Field Manual 3-24, "Counterinsurgency," provides a firm doctrinal foundation, as corroborated in Battle Command Knowledge System chat rooms, training at the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center and the Taji Counterinsurgency Center for Excellence, and field experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even so, there is still a gap between doctrine and tactical results in COIN warfare. This article seeks to fill that gap by introducing what the authors believe is a useful planning tool: the COIN center of gravity (COG) analysis, integrated as the culminating step of COIN intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB). COIN COG analysis translates theory into practice from the bottom up, exposing insurgent lines of operation (LOOs) and suggesting possible counters to them. Rather than thrusting objectives from the top down that may or may not apply to a given situation, it balances counterinsurgent efforts and provides metrics. Links between COIN IPB and the root causes of a conflict, and between COIN COG analysis and tactical actions, are analyzed to figure out how to preempt insurgent activity instead of merely reacting to it. The process approaches COIN from the dual perspective of the nature of the population and the nature of the insurgent, not from the perspective of the counterinsurgent. The authors' aim is to understand the enemy's specific strategy, get inside his decision cycle, and predict his likely actions. To accomplish this, they use the four steps of COIN IPB: (1) Understand the environment, (2) Determine how the enemy is using the root causes of conflict to generate or heighten popular discontent and thereby manipulate the population, (3) Discern the insurgent's strategy and his likely actions, and (4) Culminate steps 1-3 with an analysis of the COIN COG.

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Chapter
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