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the Thick Blue Line — Policing & Law Enforcement in COIN

the Thick Blue Line — Policing & Law Enforcement in COIN

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Published by: Impello_Tyrannis on Apr 19, 2012
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The primary frontline COIN force is often the police, not the mili-
tary. The primary COIN objective is to enable local institutions.
Therefore, supporting the police is essential.55

The ability to prevent an outbreak of insurgent activities rests on

the perceived legitimacy of the government to provide its citizens
security, rule of law, and a better way of life within some type of
moral framework acceptable to the culture. When efective, police and law

enforcement institutions can control just about any level of criminality

and violence to a level acceptable to the populace. If the violence emanates

from the armed actions of insurgents, police and law enforcement retain
the capabilities to manage the situation at an acceptable level—that is, if

the government correctly identifes the origins of the violence as insurgent
in nature. If policing eforts cannot contain the insurgent threat, then they
must either be reinforced or the government must choose to inject military
might to defeat the insurgency.
Whether the government chooses a course of action to reinforce polic-
ing measures or deploy its military, maintaining the rule of law will remain
paramount throughout the crisis to buttress legitimacy. In order to prevent
a protracted confict, which is a central component of insurgent strategy,
combined military and paramilitary policing eforts, while simultaneously

continuing community policing, are ofen the best method to defeat the

enemy and return society to a level of law enforcement reasonable to control
societal violence.

Te police and law enforcement sectors are key enablers for the COIN
practitioner. Te police and law enforcement organizations ofen outnumber
the personnel in the military, are clos-
est to the problem, and are normally
the frst responders to insurgent vio-

lence. Conversely, a low level of per-
ceived legitimacy on the part of the

populace towards its law enforcement

institutions, ofen due to corruption

and ineptness within the police, can almost guarantee that the COIN efort
will become more difcult in achieving its objectives.

The police and law enforcement
organizations often outnumber
the personnel in the military, are
closest to the problem, and are

normally the frst responders to

insurgent violence.


JSOU Report 09-2

Overall conclusions about the Tick Blue Line described in this paper

are provided here:

Efective police and law enforcement, used in quantity and quality


in the early stages of violence perceived as manifestations of insur-
gency, are the best response on behalf of the government to defeat the
adversary—even if it means reinforcing the policing efort to make it
more paramilitary like. Arguably, efective policing and law enforce-
ment, perceived as legitimate by the populace, in consort with other
measures implemented by the government to improve the quality of
life and ensure security, would serve as a preemptive or preventative
measure against any chance of an insurgency taking root.


campaigns are considerably enhanced by considering both
police and the military as a combined security LOO. Assessments
and planning must always take into consideration the roles ofensive
policing and community policing play as an integrated portion of the
government’s response to insurgency.

To efectively move police from a community policing posture to


an ofensive-policing posture will require paying the same attention
to their training and equipping as that for the preparation of COIN
military units. Police will need to have increased mobility platforms,
personal survival protection, and frepower to take on insurgents until
they can be reinforced by Quick Reaction Forces. Additional skills

(e.g., in intelligence, bomb disposal, and homeland defense mea-

sures) will be required in order for police to be postured for a COIN
environment. Te capacity to train and enable police is increased by
incorporating assets from allies and partners with known capacity
in police and law enforcement training.
Te best intelligence for counterinsurgents will ofen come from mili-


tary and law enforcement combining their information databases and
establishing joint-intelligence centers during the COIN efort. Priority
should be given to the police for the formation of any type of pseudo
operations when conducting counterorganization activities.
Community policing eforts must be maintained on top of ofensive-


policing support to the COIN efort in order to maintain the legiti-

macy of the government. Tis requires expanding the numbers of

police during COIN to handle both of these eforts. Police reserves,


Celeski: Policing and Law Enforcement in COIN — the Thick Blue Line

community volunteers, auxiliaries, and specialized police units are all
resources that can be used to expand the capacity of law enforcement.
Policing also includes retailoring or expanding other law enforcement

institutions during the insurgency—for example, border patrols,

maritime and customs patrols, and highway patrols.
Part of the policing eforts in


COIN will require fresh legislative author-
ity or the expansion of police emergency powers until the insurgency is
over. Te expanded policing efort will also need commensurate legal
institutions for the capture, detention, sentencing, or repatriation of
insurgents—for example, prisons, stockades, additional judges, and
lawyers (parallel institutions of governance).
At the conclusion of a successful


COIN efort, when political end states
have been met, policing and law enforcement institutions that have
been utilized in specialized COIN roles will require demobilization
or retraining to return them to a normal community policing role.

Adopting ofensive police measures in COIN will contribute to a suc-

cessful campaign against insurgents. Te military is used to buy time, but
the successful end state for COIN

hinges on maintenance of legiti-

macy to win the war while protect-
ing the civil populace. Tis aspect

is the realm where law enforce-

ment serves best as an instrument
of the state.

A success metric for a COIN
end state is when the security
situation begins to revert to one

that can be handled once again by
police and law enforcement—back
to an acceptable level of violence a
society can live with. Tus, the military fnds itself inextricably tied to the
law enforcement environment in any COIN mission:
Once in taking over


COIN from law enforcement

Again when conducting the


COIN campaign integrating the eforts

of police and law enforcement to provide security, stability, and


Figure 11. A senior U.S. Army offcer

meets with his Iraqi police counterpart
to discuss and coordinate matters con-
cerning the Iraqi Police training. Photo:
Colonel (Ret.) Mark French.


JSOU Report 09-2

Again when it must transition its eforts back to law enforcement at


the successful conclusion of the COIN efort.

All eforts should then be made to continue our understanding of the
military/law enforcement mix in irregular warfare through capture of ongo-
ing techniques, lessons learned, and from the insight, study, and observa-
tions of our professionals. Trough these means we will amass a growing

knowledge of theory and principle relevant for doctrinal updates. Tis

monograph was meant to contribute to that process.
As we shif to indirect strategies based more on “SOFt power,” the train-

ing of police and law enforcement agencies within a host nation by U.S.

resources during security assistance or FID operations will continue to be

problematic. In the short term, this will be based on the lack of capacity

within our interagency and lingering cultural bias (and to some extent lack
of capacity) within our military.

Bridging solutions through contractors, combined with the eforts of

our partners and allies, can sustain police and law enforcement eforts on
a slow but steady progression towards building both capacity and capabil-
ity within the internal security forces of our partners. If we are to achieve
success, our military, and most certainly SOF, will increasingly participate
in future irregular warfare activities involving the Tick Blue Line.


Celeski: Policing and Law Enforcement in COIN — the Thick Blue Line

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