I remain somewhat perennially frustrated with the discussion on COIN. Some of my earlier entries comment on the wide disconnect between what people believe COIN to be (tea-drinking, etc) and what it actually is. But why did that public perception get created?My theory is that COIN became part of a larger “theory of victory” that developed after 9-11, which focused on stabilizing failed states, prosecuting the Long War, and using social science and new concepts of complex operations to fight what was seen as an adaptive enemy that posed grave challenges to the traditional machinery of the national security establishment.
This, however, was more a theory of victory held by policy advocates than government–which appropriated aspects of it as need be for bureaucratic kung-fu and policy issues related to the respective wars (and direct action campaigns) we are currently engaged in.
The theory of victory, however, has since fallen out of favor due to operational realities, the looming budget shutdown, and critical academic attention towards the underlying theories of political and military action it is based on.
On the ground level, it’s hard to see how the actual implementation of COIN or any of the operational manuals reflect some of the more wilder claims made by COIN critics.