By Robert Johnson

Environmental activist Sharon Wilson showed up to an oil industry event in Houston last week and caught a startling glimpse into how the fracking industry approaches residents in towns where they drill.

Wilson recorded industry insiders confirming they hire military psychological operation veterans, and use procedures pulled straight from the Army's counterinsurgency manual.

The first half of the following slide titles are pulled exactly from the manuals section on ASPECTS OF COUNTERINSURGENCY. The second half is our interpretation of how that directive would be employed in American towns.

The text in the slides is pulled directly from the manual as well, though references to government etc. are put in brackets and changed to [corporation] for context. The corporations are referred to as the counterinsurgency or COIN.

Legitimacy is the Main Objective: Insert the government of choice

"The primary objective of any counterinsurgent is to foster the development of effective governance.

... All [corporations] rule through a combination of consent and coercion. [Corporations] described as “legitimate” rule primarily with the consent of the governed, while those described as “illegitimate” tend to rely mainly or entirely on coercion.

[Both] Their citizens obey the state for fear of the consequences of doing otherwise, rather than because they voluntarily accept its rule. A [corporation] that derives its powers from the governed tends to be accepted by its citizens as legitimate.

It still uses coercion for example, against criminals—but the bulk of the population voluntarily accepts its governance."

Source: Army FM-34

Unity of Effort is Essential: Obtain full control of all government agencies

"Unity of effort must pervade every echelon.

... Ideally a counterinsurgent should have authority over all government agencies involved in operations. However, the best situation that military commanders can generally hope for is to be able to achieve unity of effort through communication and liaison with those responsible for the nonmilitary agencies.

There are many ... organizations needing coordination. The [local government] must be key players in higher-level planning, while similar connections are needed throughout the chain of command."

Source: Army FM-34

Understand the Environment: Become friends with the townsfolk

"The local population is a critical center of gravity of an insurgency.

Successful conduct of counter-insurgency operations depends on thoroughly understanding the society and culture within which they are being conducted.

[Corporate leaders] must understand the following about the population in the area of operations:

  • How key groups in the society are organized.
  • Relationships and tensions among them.
  • Ideologies and narratives that resonate with the groups.
  • Group interests and motivations.
  • Means by which groups communicate.
  • The society’s leadership system."

Source: Army FM-34

Isolate Insurgents from Their Cause and Support: Initiate legal action to cut protesters financial support

It is easier to cut an insurgency off and let it die than to kill every insurgent.

"Attempting to kill every insurgent is normally impossible.

It can also be counterproductive, generating popular resentment, creating martyrs that motivate new recruits, and producing cycles of revenge. Dynamic insurgencies also replace losses quickly.

... legal action might be required to limit financial support. As the host government increases its own legitimacy, the people begin to more actively assist it, eventually marginalizing and stigmatizing insurgents to the point where their legitimacy is destroyed.

Victory is gained not when this isolation is achieved, but when it is permanently maintained by and with the active support of the populace."

Source: Army FM-34

Prepare for a Long-Term Commitment: Settle in and get comfortable, they'll be there 'til the hole runs dry

"By its nature, insurgency is protracted.

The conduct of counterinsurgency always demands considerable expenditures of time and resources.

Even if people prefer the [corporation] to the insurgents, they do not actively support that [corporation] unless they are convinced the [corporation's] forces have the means, ability, stamina, and will to win.

The insurgent’s primary battle is against the indigenous government, not the [corporation], but [public] support can be crucial to building public faith in that government’s viability.

Insurgents and local populations often believe that a few casualties or a few years will cause the [corporation] to abandon [their] ... effort. Constant reaffirmations of commitment, backed by deeds, can overcome that perception and bolster faith in the steadfastness of [corporate] support."

Source: Army FM-34

Manage Information and Expectations: Limit discontent and build support

"Information and expectations are related, and both are carefully managed by a skillful counterinsurgent.

To limit discontent and build support, a host [corporation] and any counterinsurgents assisting it create and maintain a realistic set of expectations among the populace.

Achieving steady progress toward a set of reasonable expectations can increase the population’s tolerance for the inevitable inconveniences entailed by ongoing counterinsurgency operations.

Where large [corporate] forces are present to help establish a regime, such progress can extend the period before an army of liberation becomes perceived as an army of occupation."

Source: Army FM-34

Use Measured Force: Sometimes there's no other choice but to get physical

"Any use of force generates a series of reactions.

There may be times when an overwhelming effort is necessary to intimidate an opponent or reassure the populace. But ... An operation that kills five insurgents is counterproductive if the collateral damage or the creation of blood feuds leads to the recruitment of fifty more.

So effective counterinsurgents understand the character of the local police and popular perceptions of both police and [the corporation]."

Source: Army FM-34

Learn and Adapt: Gather informants, create new laws and policies

"An effective counterinsurgent force is a learning organization.

Insurgents constantly shift between military and political phases and approaches. In addition, networked insurgents constantly exchange information about the [corporation's] vulnerabilities—including with other insurgents in distant theaters.

A skillful counterinsurgent is able to adapt at least as fast as the insurgents. Every unit needs to be able to make observations, draw lessons, apply them, and assess results. Headquarters must develop an effective system to circulate best practices throughout the [corporation] quickly.

[Corporate leaders] might also need to seek new laws or policies to authorize or resource necessary changes. Insurgents will shift their areas of operations looking for weak links, so widespread competence is required throughout the counterinsurgent force."

Source: Army FM-34

Empower the Lowest Levels: Give every employee involved the ability to make decisions

"Local [employees] have the best grasp of their situations.

Under [corporate] command, they are given access to or control of the assets needed to produce actionable intelligence and manage information operations and civil-military operations. Effective COIN operations are decentralized. [Executives] owe it to their subordinates to push as many capabilities as possible down to their level. [Corporate leadership] encourages subordinates’ initiative within legal limits. It facilitates the learning process that must occur at every level.

[Empowering subordinates] is a major characteristic of a counterinsurgency force that can adapt and react as quickly as the insurgents."

Source: Army FM-34

Support the Host Nation: Develop local leaders to maintain corporate policy

American forces committed to COIN are there to assist a host government.

"The long-term goal is to leave a host that is capable of standing on its own. In the end, the host nation has to win its own war. Achieving this requires the development of viable local leaders and institutions. [Corporations] can help, but host-nation elements must be able to accept responsibilities to achieve real victory.

While it may be easier for [corporations] to conduct operations themselves, it is better to work to strengthen local forces and then assist them.

Host governments have the final responsibility to solve their own problems."

Source: Army FM-34

Yes, US corporations admit to using these tactics on Americans


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Photo: Flickr user The U.S. Army.