View Full Version : Insurgencies Like Iraq's Usually Last 10 Years But Fail, Study Says

05-09-2007, 11:10 AM
9 May USA Today - Insurgencies Like Iraq's Usually Last 10 Years But Fail, Study (http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20070509/a_insurgencies09.art.htm) Says by Jim Michaels.

Insurgencies, such as the one the United States is fighting in Iraq, last an average of more than 10 years, according to a study commissioned by the Defense Department.

For the United States, the good news is that rebels lose more often than they win. Chances for stopping an insurgency improve after 10 years, the study shows.

Stopping the violence in Iraq will take years, Pentagon leaders have said. However, there have been few efforts to analyze and quantify insurgencies in order to draw conclusions about Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The violence in Iraq is going to go on a minimum for at least three or four more years and in reality another five plus years," said Christopher Lawrence, director of The Dupuy Institute, which is conducting the study...

05-09-2007, 12:52 PM
I haven't heard from the Dupuy Institute in awhile. I wonder if the report will be released into the public domain. At first glance, I'm reminded of the old saying, "Numbers are like people. Torture them enough and they'll tell you what you want to hear."
It would be interesting to see what makes into the column as an insurgency and what is left out. All in all, however, it sounds like the study is just saying, "stick it out and let time take its course. odds are you'll win."

05-09-2007, 01:33 PM
Rebels? Who are they?

The problem with saying things like "Insurgencies Like Iraq" should be self-evident. How many insurgencies are like Iraq?

John T. Fishel
05-09-2007, 03:00 PM
120, you are right to point out that Iraq is unique, as indeed are all insurgencies. But insurgencies, including Iraq, have common elements which means that we can learn lessons from each one that are applicable to others. For example, Malaya, where everything favored the Brits after they promised independence to the Malay majority still took 12 years to win.

An important question that remains unanswered is: what does winning look like? In El Salvador, we, in SOUTHCOM's Small Wars Operations Research Directorate, had come to the point of defining victory as reducing guerrilla actions to the level of a police problem. In fact, because of the international delegitimation of Communism as a result of the end of the Cold War, the victory of the government was complete on the terms laid out by President Duarte in 1985, 7 years previously. Incidentally, it took 12 years to achieve that victory, too.

05-09-2007, 09:26 PM
Not all insurgencies are quagmires, the report shows. Insurgents only win in 41% of the conflicts in the database, Lawrence said. The remainder were victories for the counterinsurgents, were inconclusive or are still going on.

I'd think a quantification of the inconclusive and ongoing insurgencies would be as important as the quantification of the victorious insurgencies.

05-10-2007, 05:29 AM
I wonder what the success rates are for "insurgencies" fought against nonexistent governments, or externally "invented" governments put in place by external forces?

John T. Fishel
05-10-2007, 11:21 AM
Although we didn't pose it that way, the data set that Max Manwaring and I used for our origninal article in Small Wars & Insurgencies (Winter 1992), can be mined for an answer. Without doing so, I can say that a number of our 43 cases, as "colonial" wars, meet your criteria. In those cases, the Western intervening power (colonial or otherwise) was on the winning side when it won the war for legitimacy both at home and where the armed conflict was being fought. That, as in Malaya, often meant granting independence. I would also add that real insurgencies rarely, if ever, take root where there are responsive, responsible, constitutional governments. Indeed, for governments to be threatened by an insurgency they need to have serious problems with their legitimacy partly measured by the equitable distribution of government servces to all the people.

05-18-2007, 08:27 AM
Rebels? Who are they?

The problem with saying things like "Insurgencies Like Iraq" should be self-evident. How many insurgencies are like Iraq?

I'd say Lebanon and Afghanistan (1980s) are closest to Iraq. Weak central government, foreign troops in country doing most of fighting and many insurgent groups (as opposed to single one).

Not entirely same but very similar.

05-18-2007, 09:18 AM
Just wondering: has anyone ever done any real good operational studies of Syrian operations in Lebanon in the 1980s that ended the Lebanese Civil War? I remember van Creveld was very impressed with what they pulled off, but didn't provide too many details.