View Full Version : FYI--Draft Paper on Insurgent Motivation

05-04-2009, 04:16 PM
Punch this (http://laurenstephens.net/uploads/f0e0c29dff.pdf)

Please note the link no longer works; added 17th July 2009

Ken White
05-04-2009, 05:10 PM
As you point out, not every 'insurgency' is indeed just that nor are all politically based in the western sense...

Two minor comments.

Your statement that traumatic events seems to vary as a motivator is correct, I think but I'd also suggest that in the cases of Northern Ireland and the ME the stated cases of a trauma inducing joining an insurgency fall prey to ethnic pride and traditions on the one hand and the desire to project any fault to others -- your "emphasize the extent to which they were motivated by legitimate and worthy causes..." Thus it is possible that the impact of trauma was not as signifcant as is said. I believe that traumatic events provide some but far from a major number of insurgents and I also believe that while a few of those can become the most dedicated fighters, many more will wander away as time assuages the trauma. Many become the defectors, the Chieu Hois...

Your summary recommendation:
"The United States should recognize this and help partner states vulnerable to insurgency sustain a military that might, to us, seem unnecessarily large. This one step is emblematic of the larger one we must take to be effective in counterinsurgency: we must stop thinking in purely political terms and understand the psychological dynamics at play."is I think extremely perceptive and worthwhile.

Regrettably, in some circumstance where we have in the past tried to do this (consciously or not), idealists in Congress or elsewhere have forced abandonment due to concerns the US was fostering 'militarism' or 'interfering.' I'm not sure how to fix that...

05-04-2009, 05:27 PM
Punch this (http://laurenstephens.net/uploads/f0e0c29dff.pdf)

Taking a look now. What ever happened to your targeting paper?

05-04-2009, 09:08 PM
Taking a look now. What ever happened to your targeting paper?

Still sitting here. I'm editing what will be an SSI book on cutting edge thinking in insurgency and counterinsurgency. It will be in there.

05-05-2009, 02:20 PM
I wonder too about the impact of truama given the poor neighborhoods, street violence, blood feuds, death from lack of medical care, etc that many are exposed to on a regular basis throughout the world. I always get off on tangets but what popped into my mind was Wounded Knee 2, 1973, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation , the latest confrontation between indigenous people and Federal forces in America. I've talked with Indian Vets from that engagement and several told me they were at the occupation of Wounded Knee simply because there was nothing else to do - boredom. I myself enlisted for the same reason. IMO it is a variable that is going to be hard to pin down with strong certainty

05-05-2009, 05:27 PM
Excellent paper sir. Thank you for sharing.

One point for consideration on implications. In substance abuse and trauma treatment, therapy plus medication is used to help the individual regain their natural homeostatic norm.

I'm currently exploring how that can be tied to COIN, IW, and better governance.

At the end of the day, no form of interdiction, intervention, or help will work if the patient refuses treatment.



05-05-2009, 06:16 PM
Nice paper, Steve. Personally, I would suggest that it may be worthwhile pointing out that "rational" and "logical" are culture (and situation) dependent, which you skirt around (especially in your Survivor ideal type). I would offer a caveat - there is some research coming out now that is showing that Maslow's model is much more limited (actually, culture bound) than previously thought.

05-06-2009, 04:07 PM
I also found the paper to be, as Ken White said, very perceptive and worthwhile. Your concepts are related to broader sociological ideas on the disaffected, which I think are begging to be studied to find the broader implications and applicibility. There seems to be a bit of an academic crevasse between looking at insurgencies and looking at other, more "basic" forms of criminality - when it seems to be that there is a great deal of similarity between them, especially from the angle from which you are looking.

Old Eagle
05-06-2009, 05:25 PM
Steve --

Have you read any of Friedrich Hacker's psychological analysis of terrorists? He addresses some of the issues you do, although he was looking more at terror-based groups rather than more classic insurgencies.

I am also concerned about the impact of the less negotiable motivations that Ralph Peters talks about -- religion and ethnicity. His point was that dealing with the "isms" of the 20th cent., nazism, communism, etc., was easier than dealing with ethnic identification and faith.

Benjamin Walthrop
05-12-2009, 03:10 PM
Interesting propositions in search of data.

Minor edit on page 16 (17 if you include the title page). I believe the last word in the second sentance should be territory rather than terror (but I could be wrong).

Your suggestions on addressing both the primal and higher level psychological motivations seems sound, but faced with real world resource constraints to address all of the motivations with the appropriate level of effort seems challenging. If my assumption of resource constraints is correct, that implies (to me anyway) that there is an important time (or insurgency maturity) component in deciding how to apply limited resources. The article seems to imply different stages in the development of an insurgency's maturity, and I think this points to an area of further research in order to apply the right resources at the right time in an insurgency's development.

Thanks for posting a thought provoking article.


B. Walthrop

07-17-2009, 04:08 AM
The link for the OP is broken, I keep getting 'kingdom x' web-hosting page.

07-17-2009, 10:28 AM

The file sharing service on link only lasts for thirty days (original post updated). I have a hard copy, so PM your address and can post out.