Paul Lewandowski suggests so in a recent blog on ForeignPolicy.com (registration required):
Insurgent techniques became simpler, low-tech. Military-grade munitions gave way to homemade explosives. Cell phone detonators regressed back to command wire. Suicide bombers and insurgents disguised as Afghan army or police proved more efficient than complex, electronic IEDs or expensive VBIEDs. After nearly 13 years of war, the terrorists have learned that the best counter to a techno-savvy force is simplicity.
While this is certainly true, another, perhaps better way to characterize what’s happening is that the Taliban, al-Shabab and others confronting Western military forces aren’t so much out-innovating us as out-learning us. In other words, they aren’t coming up with better and simpler technology to counter ours. Instead, they’ve just stopped playing that game entirely. What’s most interesting is that they’re getting away with it, that is, they’ve found another game to play that works better.
As Lewandowski notes, what they’ve done is return to the roots of insurgency:
deeply embedded in the local culture, regional in focus, and urban in operation. The new insurgent will be so low tech he will be virtually untraceable. Another face in a sea of faces.
Compare with Boyd’s description of guerrilla warfare:
- Guerrillas must establish implicit connections or bonds with people and countryside.
- In other words, guerrillas must be able to blend into the emotional-cultural-intellectual environment of people until they become one with the people.
- In this sense, people feelings and thoughts must be guerrilla feeling and thoughts while guerrilla feelings and thoughts become people feelings and thoughts; people aspirations must be guerrilla aspirations while guerrilla aspirations become people aspirations; people goals must be guerrilla goals while guerrilla goals become people goals.
- Result: Guerrillas become indistinguishable from people while government is isolated from people. (Patterns 95)
Or, as Lewandowski puts it:
The counterinsurgent could see them walking to their target, weapon in hand, and never register him as a threat … The counterinsurgent can’t tap into the local, informal network the way the insurgent can. No one talks to the uniformed government official, but everyone talks to their neighbor.
And that’s the real problem. Until “counterinsurgents” solve that one, all the technological innovation in the world is just expensive wheel spinning. Another example of incestuous amplification.