The first contribution

...what shall I write?
Shall I introduce myself despite my lack of importance or shall I focus on an important issue?
Some questions in life are easy to answer...

Counter-insurgency (COIN)
COIN is a very fashionable aspect of military affairs today. New vehicles need to be blast-proof to survive Iraqi "IED's" (command-detonated mines located usually next to instead of below the vehicle) if they shall be procured. It sounds a lot like preparing for the previous war in many cases because even armies that are not and will not be involved in the Iraqi conflict do now prepare for it.

Hundreds of books and articles can and will be finished on the subject of COIN every year. The creativity of our military minds is focused on the subject even more than on the previously so fashionable high-tech weapons that are in R&D, but not related to Iraq.

Is that a good thing? Is it worth the effort? Shall we be able to achieve victory in a COIN campaign? Is victory in COIN anyhow vital to our nation's interests? Does success or failure in a COIN campaign thousands of kilometres abroad at least touch our sovereignty, our freedom?

This question begs an answer.

Without a satisfying, positive answer it's pointless to focus our efforts on becoming better at COIN (which is a very difficult position in a conflict as most should have realized by today).

After all, the primary and essential purpose of our civilized armies should be the protection of our sovereignty against external threats. Such a mission is difficult if at all to meet by waging a war against para-military powers (a.k.a. insurgents) in a remote place on earth.

A quote from the German constitution, one of my favourite articles:
Article 87a (2)
Außer zur Verteidigung dürfen die Streitkräfte nur eingesetzt werden, soweit dieses Grundgesetz es ausdrücklich zuläßt.
"The use of these forces for purposes other than defense is only permitted as far as this constitution explicitly permits it."
(There's nothing in the constitution that allows COIN in some remote places of the world, although our Federal Constitutional Court allowed United Nations missions in general.)

Back to the roots!?

Sven Ortmann


  1. Afghanistan was declared a defensive act by NATO against a force from Afghanistan attacking a member state. So the COIN is legally covered as protection of our allied US partner's homeland against attacks from Afghanistan. Judicial arguments have always been strange animals. It makes at least a memorable casus belli.

  2. Show me one other alliance in history EVER that did not only fight a common enemy, but also his non-aggressive supporter, hunted both down and still felt that the alliance was still in business of keeping the pressure up long after both had lost political dominance in the country.

    The usual idea of an alliance is that it won a war at the latest when the aggressor government is no more and the new government isn't hostile.
    NATO is the first alliance ever which had the perplexing idea that it should ensure for all times that no threat could originate from a distant place ever again, even if said threat is only linked to an actual attack around multiple corners.

    No, the collective defence business was long over before a single U.S. soldier came under a multinational command in Afghanistan. All that happened later was a war of choice on our part.