CHESTER HAS MOVED!: Insurgent command and control clues . . .

Friday, November 12, 2004

Insurgent command and control clues . . .

How are the insurgents controlling their side of the battle and coordinating their defense? Are they doing so at all? Here are some clues to their systems of command and control . . . This article can lead to several inferences about insurgent command and control: they are extremely decentralized and have been likely given a wide statement of intent, along with some rudimentary training, and then released to do what they see fit. No doubt there are some sleeper cells still in the city, as speculated. In this sense, the units described are not being controlled at all, but are acting in an every-man-for-himself manner. Yesterday, a look at some classic command and control theory was promised, and it is appropriate here. From the undisputed Bible of Command and control, Martin Van Creveld's "Command in War," (the conclusion); " . . .what are the implications for the organization of command systems and the way they operate? . . . there are five, all interacting with each other: (a) the need for decision thresholds to be fixed as far down the hierarchy as possible; (b) the need for an organization that will make such low-decision thresholds possible by providing self-contained units at a fairly low level; (c) the need for a regular reporting and information-transmission system working from the top-down and the bottom up; (d) the need for the active search for information by headquarters in order to supplement the information routinely sent to it by the units at its command; (e) the need to maintain an informal, as well as a formal, network of communications inside the organization." The insurgency is certainly decentralized, but does it have reporting systems in place at all within the city? This New York Times article details the use of rudimentary signalling systems to concentrate and coordinate fires by the enemy. An excerpt: "But these marines [sic] did see a black flag pop up all at once above a water tower about 100 yards away, then a second flag somewhere in the gloaming above a rooftop. And the shots began, in a wave this time, as men bobbed and weaved through alleyways and sprinted across the street. "He's in the road, he's in the road, shoot him!" Sergeant Brown shouted. "Black shirt!" someone else yelled. "Due south!" The flags are the insurgents' answer to two-way radios, their way of massing the troops and - in a tactic that goes back at least as far as Napoleon - concentrating fire on an enemy." From these accounts, it appears that the insurgents have both active fighters who are being controlled in some sense, at least to the point of coordinating fires, if not maneuver, and also more lone-wolf type fighters who are completely released from any oversight. UPDATE: I mistakenly quoted the book as "On Command." It is "Command in War." I've added an Amazon link to the right.


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