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    Default How Insurgencies End

    RAND, 22 Apr 10: How Insurgencies End
    Insurgencies have dominated the focus of the U.S. military for the past seven years, but they have a much longer history than that and are likely to figure prominently in future U.S. military operations. Thus, the general characteristics of insurgencies and, more important, how they end are of great interest to U.S. policymakers.

    This study constitutes the unclassified portion of a two-part study that examines insurgencies in great detail. The research documented in this monograph focuses on insurgency endings generally. Its findings are based on a quantitative examination of 89 cases.....

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    I have just begun to review this. What I find immediately interesting is page 8 footnote #6 in their discussion of the historiography of insurgency.

    Notably absent from this list are modern Islamic philosopher/practitioners, such as Osama bin laden. In an effort to separate terrorism from insurgency, we chose to omit them.
    While I have only scratched the surface of this, it seems to me that since OBL and others are working, in many cases, in conjunction with insurgent groups I wonder how much of this will actually be valid in Afghanistan.

    Gues I have some more reading to do!
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-23-2010 at 11:16 PM. Reason: Add quote marks
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    What strikes me after 40 pages or so is that there's no apparent effort to distinguish between insurgency and resistance to foreign occupation. The US role in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to be treated as that of an "external sponsor of COIN"; in fact if I read this and didn't know better I'd get the impression that the US had entered both conflicts to defend pre-existing governments threatened by insurgency.

    I'll have to read the rest of it before reaching any conclusions, but that seems a quite strikingly bizarre way to start.

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    Default Insurgency takes many forms

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    What strikes me after 40 pages or so is that there's no apparent effort to distinguish between insurgency and resistance to foreign occupation. The US role in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to be treated as that of an "external sponsor of COIN"; in fact if I read this and didn't know better I'd get the impression that the US had entered both conflicts to defend pre-existing governments threatened by insurgency.

    I'll have to read the rest of it before reaching any conclusions, but that seems a quite strikingly bizarre way to start.
    Reasonable minds differ, but to me three broad categories makes sense:

    Revolutionary: Overthrow one's own government

    Resistance: Throw out an occupying government

    Separatist: Break a region off from one's country to form a new country.

    Or some combination of the three. All three were going on in Iraq at the same time.
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    These are reasonable distinctions, but it seems odd to me that an analysis as detailed as that presented by Rand would fail to acknowledge those distinctions and and examine their impact on the success or failure of insurgency.

    Looking at the list of insurgencies studied, I don't see any case analogous to the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan: an insurgency triggered by an actual invasion and replacement of government. The anti-colonial insurgencies (or wars of independence, depending on the terminology you prefer) opposed a prolonged foreign presence and actual foreign government. Even the Soviet entry into Afghanistan was at least nominally in support of a threatened allied Government. That suggests that some caution is required in applying the lessons of other insurgencies, as those lessons arise from extremely different circumstances.

    One of the first things I do when reading broad-spectrum documents like this is to us the "find" function and see how they deal with the situations I'm most familiar with, which seems a quick way of assessing credibility. I note, again with some surprise, that the insurgency in the Southern Philippines is treated as concluded and listed in the "Government win" column, which might come as a surprise to anyone on the scene. That certainly doesn't invalidate the conclusions, but it's a bit of a yellow flag, for me at least.

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    Default Bob's Classifications

    The RAND study looks at something similar, buried in the appendices (at pp.195-199 of pdf, mixed charts and graphs):

    Formulation

    The outcome of any given insurgency has a lot to do with the goals sought by the insurgents. Insurgents who fought for independence or for majority rule have been almost always successful once they get going (the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya being the notable exception) (see Figure B.5 and Table B.5). They won, in no small measure, because their campaign was consistent with the postwar zeitgeist. Conversely, insurgencies fighting for secession (or autonomy) have failed more often than they have succeeded, comporting to the principle that holds today’s national borders, however arbitrarily determined, to be largely inviolable. Otherwise, the won-lost record is mixed whether the goal is establishing a Marxist or Islamic state or overthrowing the government (that is, changing the regime without necessarily changing the governing ideology).

    Of note is which goals permit mixed outcomes and which do not. Such goals as independence, majority rule, Marxism, or Islamicism tend to be either-or propositions, and only four of the 34 insurgencies with such goals have resulted in a mixed outcome. Conversely, when secession/autonomy or power arrangements are at issue, the difference can often be split, and mixed outcomes have characterized 15 cases, or nearly 30 percent of such insurgencies.

    The difficulties that secessionist groups have of winning against an established government are made even clearer when viewed on a case-by-case basis. Of the six insurgent losses, three were in or near the Horn of Africa, and, in two of these, Somalia and Ethiopia, a region acquired its independent (Eritrea) or quasi-independent (Somaliland) status in the wake of a multi-insurgent overthrow of the central government. [3] [3] Sudan conceded an independence referendum to its southern provinces, but whether it carries through and actually allows its oil-bearing provinces to leave remains to be determined.

    The other three secessionists were clearly the beneficiaries of some major power help: Kosovo had the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on its side; Dnistria fended off Moldova because of the support of Russia (or at least Russia’s 14th Army); and Bangladesh had India to thank.[4] [4] East Timor, which was classified as a mixed outcome, was clearly helped by the international community, which was never reconciled to the 1975 absorption of Portuguese Timor into Indonesia.

    Among the seven mixed outcomes, three (Bosnia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Georgia-Abkhazia) were achieved against governments that had not yet established themselves when challenged.

    Finally, except for insurgencies seeking independence/majority rule, most of which started prior to 1980, almost a fifth of all other insurgencies, irrespective of goal, are still ongoing.
    The only extensive discussion is re: secessionist insurgencies (most of the paras above quoted).

    The graph and table relevant to the goals are at p.198 of pdf.

    Agree that distinctions have to be made between (1) resistence to colonial situations (now pretty much a dinosaur relic); (2) resistence to foreign occupier pursuant to its recent war against an indigenous incumbant government; and (3) resistence to substantial foreign presence in aid of an indigenous incumbant government.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    What strikes me after 40 pages or so is that there's no apparent effort to distinguish between insurgency and resistance to foreign occupation.
    War and warfare tend to resist being fitted into neat boxes. For 3,000 years there has been basically:

    Regular Warfare, between states, nations and societies.
    Irregular Warfare, rebellions, revolts and revolutions.

    so two broad categories of Big Wars and Small Wars. Does that help?
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    War and warfare tend to resist being fitted into neat boxes. For 3,000 years there has been basically:

    Regular Warfare, between states, nations and societies.
    Irregular Warfare, rebellions, revolts and revolutions.

    so two broad categories of Big Wars and Small Wars. Does that help?
    Into which of those categories would you place the current conflict in Afghanistan? As you break it down above, it would seem to be regular warfare (more than one state involved) but the tactics seem those most would call "irregular". Regular warfare by irregular means?

    State A invades State B; this is regular warfare by any standard. The Government of State B collapses, but organized resistance continues... is this still regular warfare, or does it become irregular?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Into which of those categories would you place the current conflict in Afghanistan? As you break it down above, it would seem to be regular warfare (more than one state involved) but the tactics seem those most would call "irregular". Regular warfare by irregular means?
    Currently, A'Stan is classic irregular warfare. Warfare! NOT War. There is only one kind of War.
    Yes, people who have never really thought about tactics do seem to differentiate between regular and irregular. I have never worked out why.

    State A invades State B; this is regular warfare by any standard. The Government of State B collapses, but organized resistance continues... is this still regular warfare, or does it become irregular?
    It becomes irregular and if a regular party becomes involved it will be both, like Vietnam.
    The point really is that eventually the distinction can be irrelevant. WHO fights is very often HOW the fighting is done. In the end the job is still to kill capture and destroy enough to break the enemies will. That will never change.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Hi Wilf,

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    War and warfare tend to resist being fitted into neat boxes. For 3,000 years there has been basically:
    Hmm, closer to 5500 years if Algaze and his crew are to be believed (there's an argument with some decent archaeological data for a very long war in ~3450 bce ranging from modern Kuwait up into eastern Turkey and covering all of Iraq).

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Regular Warfare, between states, nations and societies.
    Irregular Warfare, rebellions, revolts and revolutions.

    so two broad categories of Big Wars and Small Wars. Does that help?
    I've never much liked the terms "regular" and "irregular", as you know . There is an implication of some type of absolute yardstick that can be used to "measure" how "regular" a war is. I far prefer the terms "conventional" and "unconventional", since conventions are much more flexible and changeable. Besides that, it also allows one to look at situations where warfare exists between two "states" that use different conventions: Japan vs. the UN in WW II is a good example of this.

    The other problem I have with the "regular / irregular" dichotomy is that it is based on a post-Westphalian ideal type of states that attempts to regularize that ideal type as the only "true" form of warfare.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Hmm, closer to 5500 years if Algaze and his crew are to be believed (there's an argument with some decent archaeological data for a very long war in ~3450 bce ranging from modern Kuwait up into eastern Turkey and covering all of Iraq).
    Well I just deal with 3,000 years, covered by the books I own!
    I've never much liked the terms "regular" and "irregular", as you know . There is an implication of some type of absolute yardstick that can be used to "measure" how "regular" a war is. I far prefer the terms "conventional" and "unconventional", since conventions are much more flexible and changeable. Besides that, it also allows one to look at situations where warfare exists between two "states" that use different conventions: Japan vs. the UN in WW II is a good example of this.

    The other problem I have with the "regular / irregular" dichotomy is that it is based on a post-Westphalian ideal type of states that attempts to regularize that ideal type as the only "true" form of warfare.
    You can call it "Hamsters" and "Rats." - Type 1 and Type 2. I would be very happy with Big Wars and Smalls, or Wars and Rebellions.
    The issue for me is that WHO fights has implications for HOW they fight. Irregular Warfare is different from Regular Warfare. The exact distinctions are very much a product of context.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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