"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Fundamentals of Company-Level Counter-Insurgency + Urban Infrastructure Disruption + Black Market Supply Chain

Break any rule, sooner than lose the initiative.

In counterinsurgency, the initiative is everything. If the enemy is reacting to you, you control the operation and, provided you mobilize the population, you will win. If you are reacting to the enemy – even if you are killing or capturing him in large numbers – then he is controlling the environment and you will eventually lose. This is because, in counterinsurgency, the enemy almost always has the tactical initiative. He initiates most attacks, targets you unexpectedly and withdraws too fast for you to react. So instead, you must focus on the local population, build your own solution to the environment and its systemic problems, further your own game plan and fight the enemy only when he gets in the way. This helps you keep the initiative. Link

The key to unlocking the disruptive potential of cities within this new form of warfare, is to attack key points (systempunkts) within target infrastructure and social networks to force a change in the city’s dynamic. Infrastructure attacks, particularly on power/fuel/water, negate the ability of the government to deliver political goods (for example, in October Baghdad only received 2.4 hours of electricity a day). This halts economic activity and forces the population to rely upon primary loyalties for daily survival (families, neighborhoods, religious organizations, gangs, etc.). It also damages the ability of the government to deliver political goods, which are the key to legitimacy. As a result, primary loyalties rise and nationalism falls. Next, attacks on the social fabric along fault lines (religious, ethnic, class, etc.), are then used to force these primary loyalty groups to arm themselves for security. Finally, as these manufactured groups naturally come into conflict (for access to resource, protection, or revenge), the city’s intrinsic interconnectedness allows it to assume its own emergent dynamic, replete with feedback loops that accelerate conflict. Link

By all accounts the amount of money involved is immense. In aggregate, the networks that form this parallel “black” global supply chain, have a “GDP” of $1-3 trillion (some estimates are as high as 10% of the world’s economy) and are growing seven times faster than legal trade. These networks supply the huge demand for:

  • Drugs (both recreational and pharmaceutical).
  • Undocumented workers (for corporations, home services, and the sex trade).
  • Weapons (from small arms to RPGs, many come from cold war arsenals).
  • Rip-offs of intellectual property (from digital content to brand named consumer goods).
  • Laundered and unregulated financial flows.

This supply chain isn’t run by the vertically integrated cartels and mafias of the last century (those hierarchies are too vulnerable, slow, and unresponsive to be competitive in the current environment). The new undifferentiated structures are highly decentralized, horizontal, and fluid. They specialize in cross border movement and therefore can handle all types of smuggling simultaneously. They are also very reliant on modern technologies to rapidly transport and coordinate their global operations.

The similarity between these commercial networks and those of modern terrorism (my global guerrillas) is not incidental. These networks are optimized for the melted map we currently live in. There is also considerable crossover between these networks since terrorists/guerrillas use these networks to both fund and execute their operations – and – smugglers see terrorists/guerrillas as a means to free areas from state control. Link

What’s more interesting than the actual fighting is what the conflict was about. In summary, the government made an attempt to slow the expansion Hezbollah’s fiber optics network, which provides secure/robust communications and surveillance (via automated cameras) to the group. Specifically, the government tried to shut down surveillance nodes of the network overlooking Beirut International Airport. Hezbollah responded by defining the network as a core part of its organization and that they were willing to defend it with violence if necessary.

So, we can now conclude that in addition to 4GW militias and parallel social services, a parallel communications/surveillance network is a core feature set of virtual states. This tracks with our emerging experience in Sadr City. It also implies we may see interesting virtual variants of this via the parasitic piggybacking of open source insurgencies (the PCC, al Qaeda, etc.) on cell phone networks and the Internet. Link

Understanding how to break the back of an insurgency will be very useful for individuals creating communities in proximity to unstable areas.

See also:

How To Be The Biggest Tribe

Narco-Cartels & Tunnels

Osama Bin Laden Didn’t Use Encyrpttion

Informal Banking: The Hawala Systtem

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