UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


American Forces Press Service

U.S. Should Use Counterinsurgency Methods in War on Terror, General Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 28, 2007 – The United States should approach the global war on terrorism as it would an insurgency, a senior military official said today at the 18th annual Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Symposium here.

“If we look at is as terrorism, we have a tendency to think that the solution is to kill or capture all the terrorists. That’s a never-ending process,” Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, undersecretary of defense for intelligence and warfighting support, said.

“We’ll never be successful, we’ll never get there, if we think that’s the primary solution,” he said. “But if we approach it from the perspective of an insurgency, we use the seven elements of national power.”

The general defined the seven elements of national power as diplomacy, military, economy, finance, law enforcement, information and intelligence. Focusing on the latter two elements in a keynote speech here, Boykin first discussed the shortcomings of the U.S.’s information capability.

“In the information age,” he said, “information should be something we’re good at, … and I do not believe that to be the case.

“It is my view that one of the most underutilized elements of national power is information,” he said. “It should be something we are applying robustly, with a great deal of coordination and synergy.

“The question is ‘on a day-to-day basis, who in this country is responsible for information operations?’” he said. “The answer is ‘nobody.’”

Every organization, agency and department has its own individual responsibilities, but there is no central direction and no one in charge, Boykin said. “That’s problematic,” he added.

If U.S. efforts in the war on terror mirrored counterinsurgency measures, then “information becomes a key component of winning the hearts and minds,” he said.

Boykin defined such strategic communications as “the informational instrument of national power in an era of globalization.” Establishing its “unity of effort,” he said, is an evolving process.

The Defense Department’s vision is to synchronize lines of information operations and establish it as a core capability for the combatant commands, Boykin said.

Shifting gears, Boykin then discussed U.S. intelligence, which he characterized as “an element of national power that we’re actually doing pretty well.”

For the Defense Department, human intelligence is “much broader than clandestine operations,” Boykin said. “Interrogations and debriefings, the things our attaches do, two guys in a spider hole putting eyes on a target is human intelligence.”

Boykin said the Defense Department has been working “hand in glove with the CIA” on rebuilding DoD’s HUMINT capabilities. “Now that we’re in an insurgency, there’s nothing more important than human intelligence,” he said. “We need to leverage every HUMINT capability.

“The Army now has a saying, that says ‘Every soldier is a sensor,’” Boykin said. “That sounds like a counterinsurgency measure, doesn’t it?

“If we believe it’s a global insurgency, we have to use HUMINT in every environment,” he said. “We’re moving towards the recognition that every soldier on the street has something to add or something to contribute to intelligence.”

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list