The war on terror offers a glimpse
of how the lessons of insurgency and counterinsurgency are problematic. Building the operational capacity and
capabilities of a counterinsurgent security force, to include police, offer
lessons in how difficult it is to develop an integrated civil-military approach
to combating an insurgency.
study of the problems associated with how insurgencies arise is also important
and prudent in understanding the lessons of the past. Some might believe that
the past is only intelligible from the present. This gives short shrift to the
lessons of history and how the present conditions are a result of that past.
attempting to overcome these problematic conditions, there are several
components that affect the overall civil-military engagement strategy that are
used to integrate this approach. Some
examples of these components include training the indigenous force, and, of
course, the elements of politics, diplomacy, geo-politics, global opinion and
fully integrated civil-military operations under a unified command.
can be learned from any type of war, conflict or military operation but
assuming that those lessons will also be similar in the next conflict is a
serious mistake. Sometimes these lessons learned can constrain thinking about
the future, especially when one assumes that past lessons will be similarly
duplicated. In this same regard combining
lessons learned with planning usually has more to do with what happened in the
past rather than how one can affect the future.
in mind, how does one determine if the past is an adequate guide for the
years the United States is still involved in a global counterinsurgency effort;
a counterinsurgency against fundamentalists that adhere to a particularly
violent strain of religious ideology. The tone and tempo of news reports from
the myriad news sources would lead one to believe that 5 years is an extraordinarily
long time to secure a victory. The history of insurgency indicates that 5 years
is just the beginning .
the global war on terror has been classified as a war against ideas, religion
and ideology. How is one to determine
if there are lessons learned from the past if there is a lack of consensus on
the type of conflict we are waging? This
is rather problematic as diversity of the origin of the problem does not
obstruct the singularity of the mission for the insurgent; for instance, look
at the uneasy yet cooperative alliance of Iran/Hezbollah and Syria/Fatah Their
brand of radical Islam preaches a complete intolerance and all that is
antithetical to Western values; they seek to completely replace Western codes
with an extreme code of Islam.
diversity of these sects does not detract them (relatively speaking) from the
singularity of their mission; to use violence and terrorism to achieve their
ultimate aims. The mixture of subversion, propaganda and violent pressure
coupled to an ideological strategy is there idea of a recipe to success.
The First Palestinian
Intifada in the 1980s was a great case of exploiting these principles, the 2nd
Intifada, that began in 2000, was a disaster and the Aug 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah conflict ended with both
sides declaring victory, yet the general consensus seems to be that Hezbollah
gained the upper hand. In both cases, as
insurgent or counterinsurgent, it is the management of the narrative with moral
attributes (think David vs Goliath here) tied to the strategy. In essence it
requires more than just an adherence to the traditional principles of war when
defining the strategy.
there must be complete integration of multiple military and non military
agencies to the strategy and more importantly a corresponding change in mindset
within these players as well. This is
not easy considering that most militaries are taught that victory comes through
the pursuit of aggressive offensive operations. Sometimes in a
counterinsurgency it might be better to do nothing at all.
in mind, here is a sample of a few of the military historical lessons learned
from past counterinsurgency and
a. Discipline, firepower and organization
coupled with small unit tactics and raiding are key to military success
b. Centralized planning, decentralized
execution within the commanders mission intent or end state.
c. Draw distinction between bandits,
rebels, thieves, and insurgents, etc, etc.
d. Creation of special units such as recon and tracking
e. Doctrine and tactics codified thru
lessons learned, essays in professional journals and front line experience
f. Public critical of operations, manage
the information war ahead of the press and be sure that your "message" has the
"moral" high ground.
g. Learning to fail fast and adapt
h. Good deeds insufficient to counteract
collateral damage, mistrust or other stupid actions by self. -- Terry Tucker