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An Example of Different Gradients of Doctrine Being Used at Different Levels of the Expression of Force.

From NPR News:

U.S. Officials: Al-Qaida Leadership Cadre ‘Decimated’

“CIA-directed airstrikes against al-Qaida leaders and facilities in Pakistan over the past six to nine months have been so successful, according to senior U.S. officials, that it is now possible to foresee a ‘complete al-Qaida defeat’ in the mountainous region along the border with Afghanistan.

The officials say the terrorist network’s leadership cadre has been ‘decimated’ with up to a dozen senior and midlevel operatives killed as a result of the strikes and the remaining leaders reeling from the repeated attacks.

‘The enemy is really, really struggling,’ says one senior U.S. counterterrorism official. ‘These attacks have produced the broadest, deepest and most rapid reduction in al-Qaida senior leadership that we’ve seen in several years.’ “

The CIA is apparently using MQ-9 Reaper UAVs combined with improved intelligence to find and target the leadership of Al-Qaida in the mountainous areas along the Afganistan and Pakistan border. This particular scenario is a perfect illustration of two different gradients of doctrine in the XGW framework (3GW and 4GW) being used simultaneously at two different levels of the expression of Force (Tactical and Operational).

Tactial Level: 4GW

Fourth gradient doctrines are based upon the principle of the attainment of a functional invulnerability that prevents the opponent from being able to orient upon a threat and creates a perception that saps the ability of the opponent to function effectively. (From the XGW Framework)

In this case the functional invulnerability is derived from the stealthiness of the MQ-9 Reaper UAV. The Reaper UAV is a hunter-killer surveillance and weapons platform capable of high-endurance, high-altitudes and low observability. This combination means that it can observe and attack targets with accuracy and surprise while preventing the opponent from orienting upon, and responding to, the threat.


Operational Level: 3GW

Maneuver Warfare doctrines are based upon the principle of avoiding the strength of the opponent in order to attack the critical vulnerability of the opponent. (From the XGW Framework)

Operationally this is an expression of third gradient ‘manuever’ warfare. The ‘strength’ of al-Qaida, like that of all guerrilla fighters, is their ability to hide and strike at the times and places of their choosing. Their weakness is that by necessity they are dispersed and to compensate they must have a highly independent command structure that is the focus of each individual cell. The ‘strength’ of the U.S. military is the ability to use superior technology and training as force-multiplier to compensate for the ‘weakness’ of not being able to position actual soldiers everywhere they could possibly be needed. This scenario uses the force-multiplier ‘strength’ of the U.S. military (or in this case the CIA) to target the leadership ‘weakness’ of the opponent.

“In the past, you could take out the No. 3 al-Qaida leader, and No. 4 just moved up to take his place,” says one official. “Well, if you take out No. 3, No. 4 and then 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, it suddenly becomes a lot more difficult to revive the leadership cadre.”  says counterterrorism and intelligence officials.

Al-Qaida may be a very resilient organization but as long as the U.S. is able to maintain this sort of pressure, obtaining intelligence to track and eliminate their leadership, their effectiveness and ability to function should be severely degraded.

Unless they go X+1.


One response

  1. Pingback: What’s Buzzing? » Blog Archive » An Example of Different Gradients of Doctrine Being Used At …

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