Find out about our effort to help us all think through what we can do to help. Though many of its empirical examples are dated, its insights remain hauntingly relevant. It is still considered by many to be the "Bible" of counterinsurgency warfare. In it, Galula, a French military officer with experience in China, Greece, Southeast Asia, and Algeria, seeks to provide a "compass" for the counterinsurgent, much as Mao did for the revolutionary. This "compass" is comprised of the laws and principals of counterinsurgency warfare, and corresponding strategy and tactics.

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Counter-insurgency operations include many different facets: military , paramilitary , political , economic , psychological , and civic actions taken to defeat insurgency. To understand counter-insurgency, one must understand insurgency to comprehend the dynamics of revolutionary warfare. Insurgents capitalize on societal problems, often called gaps; counter-insurgency addresses closing the gaps. When the gaps are wide, they create a sea of discontent, creating the environment in which the insurgent can operate.

Caldwell IV wrote: The law of armed conflict requires that, to use force, " combatants " must distinguish individuals presenting a threat from innocent civilians. This basic principle is accepted by all disciplined militaries.

In the counterinsurgency, disciplined application of force is even more critical because our enemies camouflage themselves in the civilian population. Our success in Iraq depends on our ability to treat the civilian population with humanity and dignity, even as we remain ready to immediately defend ourselves or Iraqi civilians when a threat is detected.

In his Reflexiones Militares, published between and , he discussed how to spot early signs of an incipient insurgency, prevent insurgencies, and counter them, if they could not be warded off.

Strikingly, Santa Cruz recognized that insurgencies are usually due to real grievances: "A state rarely rises up without the fault of its governors. Liddell Hart[ edit ] The majority of counter-insurgency efforts by major powers in the last century have been spectacularly unsuccessful.

This may be attributed to a number of causes. First, as B. Liddell Hart pointed out in the Insurgency addendum to the second version of his book Strategy: The Indirect Approach , a popular insurgency has an inherent advantage over any occupying force.

He showed as a prime example the French occupation of Spain during the Napoleonic wars. Whenever Spanish forces managed to constitute themselves into a regular fighting force, the superior French forces beat them every time. However, once dispersed and decentralized, the irregular nature of the rebel campaigns proved a decisive counter to French superiority on the battlefield. Counter-insurgency efforts may be successful, especially when the insurgents are unpopular.

Hart also points to the experiences of T. In both the preceding cases, the insurgents and rebel fighters were working in conjunction with or in a manner complementary to regular forces.

The strategy in these cases is for the irregular combatant to weaken and destabilize the enemy to such a degree that victory is easy or assured for the regular forces. However, in many modern rebellions, one does not see rebel fighters working in conjunction with regular forces.

Rather, they are home-grown militias or imported fighters who have no unified goals or objectives save to expel the occupier. According to Liddell Hart, there are few effective counter-measures to this strategy.

So long as the insurgency maintains popular support, it will retain all of its strategic advantages of mobility, invisibility, and legitimacy in its own eyes and the eyes of the people. So long as this is the situation, an insurgency essentially cannot be defeated by regular forces. In each of these cases, enormous amounts of manpower were needed for an extended period to quell resistance over almost every square kilometre of territory.

Essentially, then, only one viable option remains. If that can be achieved, then the rebellion will be deprived of its supplies, shelter, and, more importantly, its moral legitimacy. Unless the hearts and minds of the public can be separated from the insurgency, the occupation is doomed to fail. In a modern representative democracy , in the face of perceived incessant losses, no conflict will be tolerated by an electorate without significant show of tangible gains.

Vietnam War During the Vietnam War , counter-insurgency initially formed part of the earlier war as Diem had implemented the poorly conceived strategic Hamlet Program , a similar model to the Malayan Emergency whom had opposite effects. Similarly economic and rural development formed a key strategy as part of Rural Affairs development. This was more or less a failing strategy on the part of the United States, as conventional means were applied in direct contradiction to the wisdom of counter-insurgency.

Current situations In these cases, such as the Israeli occupation of Lebanon , which ended in , and the recent Iraqi insurgency , the goal of the insurgent is not to defeat the occupying military force; that is almost always an impossible task given the disparity in resources. Rather, they seek through a constant campaign of sneak attacks to inflict continuous casualties upon their superior enemy forces and thereby over time demoralize the occupying forces and erode political support for the occupation in the homeland of the occupying forces.

It is a simple strategy of repeated pin-pricks and bleeding that, though small in proportion to the total force strength, sap the will of the occupier to continue the fight. David Galula[ edit ] David Galula gained his practical experience in counter-insurgency as a French officer in the Algerian War.

His theory of counterinsurgency is not primarily military, but a combination of military, political and social actions under the strong control of a single authority. Galula proposes four "laws" for counterinsurgency: [11] The aim of the war is to gain the support of the population rather than control of territory. Most of the population will be neutral in the conflict; support of the masses can be obtained with the help of an active friendly minority. Support of the population may be lost.

The population must be efficiently protected to allow it to cooperate without fear of retribution by the opposite party. Order enforcement should be done progressively by removing or driving away armed opponents, then gaining support of the population, and eventually strengthening positions by building infrastructure and setting long-term relationships with the population.

This must be done area by area, using a pacified territory as a basis of operation to conquer a neighboring area. A victory is that plus the permanent isolation of the insurgent from the population, isolation not enforced upon the population, but maintained by and with the population. In conventional warfare, strength is assessed according to military or other tangible criteria, such as the number of divisions, the position they hold, the industrial resources, etc.

In revolutionary warfare, strength must be assessed by the extent of support from the population as measured in terms of political organization at the grass roots. The counterinsurgent reaches a position of strength when his power is embedded in a political organization issuing from, and firmly supported by, the population. Concentrate enough armed forces to destroy or to expel the main body of armed insurgents.

Establish contact with the population, control its movements in order to cut off its links with the guerrillas. Destroy the local insurgent political organization. Set up, by means of elections, new provisional local authorities.

Test those authorities by assigning them various concrete tasks. Replace the softs and the incompetents, give full support to the active leaders. Organize self-defense units. Group and educate the leaders in a national political movement. Win over or suppress the last insurgent remnants. Thompson outlines five basic principles for a successful counter-insurgency: The government must have a clear political aim: to establish and maintain a free, independent and united country which is politically and economically stable and viable; The government must function in accordance with the law; The government must have an overall plan; The government must give priority to defeating political subversion, not the guerrillas; In the guerrilla phase of an insurgency, a government must secure its base areas first.

State Department in , described a framework for interagency cooperation in counterinsurgency operations. His pillars — Security, Political and Economic — support the overarching goal of Control, but are based on Information: This is because perception is crucial in developing control and influence over population groups.

Substantive security, political and economic measures are critical but to be effective they must rest upon, and integrate with a broader information strategy.

Every action in counterinsurgency sends a message; the purpose of the information campaign is to consolidate and unify this message. Importantly, the information campaign has to be conducted at a global, regional and local level — because modern insurgents draw upon global networks of sympathy, support, funding and recruitment. Similarly, too much security assistance without political consensus or governance simply creates more capable armed groups.

In developing each pillar, we measure progress by gauging effectiveness capability and capacity and legitimacy the degree to which the population accepts that government actions are in its interest.

In each case, we seek not only to establish control, but also to consolidate that control and then transfer it to permanent, effective and legitimate institutions. Since most of it was written by the losing side, it is of little value. Regardless of whether the child started the fight or how well armed the child is, an adult in a fight with a child will feel that he is acting unjustly if he harms the child and foolish if the child harms him; he will therefore wonder if the fight is necessary.

Van Creveld argues that "by definition, a strong counterinsurgent who uses his strength to kill the members of a small, weak organization of insurgents — let alone the civilian population by which it is surrounded, and which may lend it support — will commit crimes in an unjust cause," while "a child who is in a serious fight with an adult is justified in using every and any means available — not because he or she is right, but because he or she has no choice.

To protract the war is the key to victory. Why must the war be protracted? If we throw the whole of our forces into a few battles to try to decide the outcome, we shall certainly be defeated and the enemy will win. On the other hand, if while fighting we maintain our forces, expand them, train our army and people, learn military tactics In an attempt to find lessons from the few cases of successful counterinsurgency, of which he lists two clear cases: the British efforts during The Troubles of Northern Ireland and the Hama massacre carried out by the Syrian government to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood , he asserts that the "core of the difficulty is neither military nor political, but moral" and outlines two distinct methods.

Once such superior intelligence is gained, the counterinsurgents must be trained to a point of high professionalism and discipline such that they will exercise discrimination and restraint. Through such discrimination and restraint, the counterinsurgents do not alienate members of the populace besides those already fighting them, while delaying the time when the counterinsurgents become disgusted by their own actions and demoralized. General Patrick Walters, British commander of troops in northern Ireland, explicitly stated that his objective was not to kill as many terrorists as possible, but to ensure that as few people on both sides were killed.

In the vast majority of counterinsurgencies, the "forces of order" kill far more people than they lose. In contrast and using very rough figures, the struggle in Northern Ireland had cost the United Kingdom three thousand casualties in dead alone. Of the three thousand, about seventeen hundred were civilians No more than three hundred were terrorists, a ratio of three to one.

In the regime of Syrian president Hafez al-Assad was on the point of being overwhelmed by the countrywide insurgency of the Muslim Brotherhood. Following a counterattack by the Brotherhood, Rifaat used his heavy artillery to demolish the city, killing between ten and 25 thousand people, including many women and children. With the Muslim Brotherhood scattered, the population was so cowed that it would be years before opposition groups dared to disobey the regime again and, van Creveld argues, the massacre most likely saved the regime and prevented a bloody civil war.

When pressed to cruelty, never threaten your opponent but disguise your intention and feign weakness until you strike. Once you decide to strike, it is better to kill too many than not enough. If another strike is needed, it reduces the impact of the first strike. Repeated strikes will also endanger the morale of the counterinsurgent troops; soldiers forced to commit repeated atrocities will likely begin to resort to alcohol or drugs to force themselves to carry out orders and will inevitably lose their military edge, eventually turning into a danger to their commanders.

Act as soon as possible. More lives will be saved by decisive action early, than by prolonging the insurgency. The longer you wait, the more inured the population will be to bloodshed, and the more barbaric your action will have to be to make an impression. Strike openly. Do not apologize, make excuses about " collateral damage ", express regret, or promise investigations. Afterwards, make sure that as many people as possible know of your strike; media is useful for this purpose, but be careful not to let them interview survivors and arouse sympathy.

If it does work, present your commander to the world, explain what you have done and make certain that everyone understands that you are ready to strike again.

Lorenzo Zambernardi, an Italian academic now working in the United States, clarifies the tradeoffs involved in counterinsurgency operations. Relying on economic theory, this is what Zambernardi labels the "impossible trilemma" of counterinsurgency. Specifically, the impossible trilemma suggests that it is impossible to simultaneously achieve: 1 force protection, 2 distinction between enemy combatants and noncombatants, and 3 the physical elimination of insurgents.


David Galula

In , Galula married Ruth Beed Morgan In , he was expelled from the French officer corps, in accordance with the Statute on Jews of the Vichy State. After living as a civilian in North Africa , he joined the I Corps of the Army of the Liberation, and served during the liberation of France , receiving a wound during the invasion of Elba in June There he continued his warm relationship with Jacques Guillermaz , an officer from an old French military family with whom he had served in France. In April , he was captured by Chinese Communists during a solo trip into the interior. Though he was fiercely anti-Communist, his captors treated him well and he eventually was released through the help of the Marshall mission. He visited the Philippines , and studied the Indochina War without taking part in it.


Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice

Counter-insurgency operations include many different facets: military , paramilitary , political , economic , psychological , and civic actions taken to defeat insurgency. To understand counter-insurgency, one must understand insurgency to comprehend the dynamics of revolutionary warfare. Insurgents capitalize on societal problems, often called gaps; counter-insurgency addresses closing the gaps. When the gaps are wide, they create a sea of discontent, creating the environment in which the insurgent can operate.


Summary of "Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice"


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