View Full Version : Strategic Aspects of Counterinsurgency

04-29-2006, 01:44 AM
Strategic Aspects of Counterinsurgency (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/documents/milreviewmarch4.pdf) by Colonel Joseph Celeski (USA Ret.). Military Review article, march - April 2006.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War, new debates began at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, about the changing nature of the threat environment. What would the 1990s bring in the form of strategic threats to America? The War on Drugs? Transnational crime? Asym*metric warfare and fights in the urban environment? Next “big one?” Not much debate occurred on irregular warfare, however, because the military still existed in a bubble of denial about its Vietnam War experience. Those who sought to learn about theoretical warfare areas other than Clausewitzian trinitarian warfare found but one elective on the subject of irregular warfare and could only learn about indirect war by reading Sun Tzu.

Conventional military strategists did not hold counterinsurgency (COIN) and irregular warfare acolytes in high esteem. In fact, strategists marginal*ized COIN and irregular warfare, never regarding irregular warfare as worthy of strategic-level discus*sions. This attitude hindered the formulation of an unconventional warfare (UW) theory and kept irreg*ular warfare out of strategic wargaming scenarios. In fact, strategists viewed counterinsurgency as a discipline with tactical and operational components that did not lend themselves to strategic consider*ation. Ironically, strategists continued to believe this even as all of the ingredients for a national security debate and the elevation of this form of war to a strategic art were forming around them.

True strategic thinking on the subject of COIN and irregular warfare should consider time and space and the long strategic view. What will the critical areas for the global war on terrorism (GWOt) be in the near future? One day we will find ourselves out of Iraq and Afghanistan with our force postured for the next crisis. What strate*gic direction will we take, and what should we be prepared to accomplish?