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Thread: Insurgencies Rarely Win

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    Council Member Chris Albon's Avatar
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    Default Insurgencies Rarely Win

    Insurgencies Rarely Win – And Iraq Won’t Be Any Different (Maybe)

    Vietnam taught many Americans the wrong lesson: that determined guerrilla fighters are invincible. But history shows that insurgents rarely win, and Iraq should be no different. Now that it finally has a winning strategy, the Bush administration is in a race against time to beat the insurgency before the public’s patience finally wears out.

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    Council Member Chris Albon's Avatar
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    Default Can the U.S. defeat the Iraqi insurgency?

    Related Article:

    Can the U.S. defeat the Iraqi insurgency?

    Stoker may be right. The United States is wealthy enough to foot the bill and large enough to bear the casualties in Iraq, even if the strain on the military is causing serious problems with recruitment, retention, and maintenance. And Bush acknowledged last week that he's learned a few things from his many prior mistakes in Iraq. It's certainly encouraging that Gen. David Petraeus, who had great success in Mosul early on and then went on to literally write the book on counterinsurgency, will soon be running the war effort in Iraq.

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    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    I think the author makes a mistake by focusing on an insurgent win as opposed to a counterinsurgent loss. While insurgents have rarely succeed in revolution with out transitioning to more conventional combat (e.g. Mao) they have successfully bleed organized state dry with guerrilla tactics (e.g. USSR-Afghanistan). Also Iraq gives us a unique situation in that the struggle is not over control of the state or part of the state’s territory, but rather what group(s) will take power in the wake of a destroyed state.

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    Default There is a reason "Insurgencies Rarely Win"

    There is a fundamental misunderstanding regarding Insurgencies. If a word could describe insurgents, it is self-serving—power, money, lawlessness, food, freedom from oppression, survival, etc., and once spawned, their aim is protractedness; their aim is not about winning. Simply stated, insurgencies are protracted because that provides the most utility to the insurgents; they are not protracted because it is an insurgency. Insurgents don’t have a goal of winning although they would not mind seeing their enemy fail. They win if the struggle continues to gain momentum and they draw others into the fray—that breeds chaos. The insurgency in Iraq is composed of men 18 to 40. This population can be likened to the criminal gang and organized crime elements more then conventional war fighters or terrorists. They tend to be decentralized in operations, are local within a small territorial range and recruit their fighters from local talent. When the group gets too large, there may be internal violence, mass killings and rival rifts as members compete for upward mobility. Their “Cause to Die For” is the failure of the government to meet the most basic levels of life and to provide hope. They almost always spawn from decapitated states especially if the levels of basic services do not improve with time. Their cause is never an ideology or idealistic dogma, and therefore they will have the propensity to ebb and flow based on the need of the day and the targets of opportunity. The insurgent is really apolitical and much more primal in their motives as compared to terrorism or conventional war fighters. Insurgency warfare is not politically or religiously motivated. Notice how these statements fly in the face of the conventional war fighter’s paradigm proposed by Clausewitz, “War is the extension of politics by other means.” Attached is a paper that speaks to the Insurgency Paradigm
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default

    There is a fundamental misunderstanding regarding Insurgencies. If a word could describe insurgents, it is self-serving—power, money, lawlessness, food, freedom from oppression, survival, etc., and once spawned, their aim is protractedness; their aim is not about winning.
    Sir, if an insurgency is self-serving, then would you use the term insurgency to classify the Rhodesian/Zimbabwe situation after UDI in 1965?

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    Default Insurgency Vs. Insurrection, Rebellion, Civil Disobedience, Revolution

    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Sir, if an insurgency is self-serving, then would you use the term insurgency to classify the Rhodesian/Zimbabwe situation after UDI in 1965?
    The fact that "All" human behavior is motivated by one thing and one thing only "Self-interest" does not make all struggles the same. The major difference as I see it between the insurgency in Iraq, and the UDI is that the insurgents are primal in their motives, needs, wants, and desires. The UDI was much more of an ideological struggle. Consider this difference--Using the Maslow Hierarchy --the UDI was at the Self-actualizing level (freedom of oppression, selfgovernance) whereas the Insurgency, at least in Iraq, is at the Physiological level--food, water, money, lawlessness. Their fight
    is not an ideological manifesto like the media leads us to believe. As a result, the insurgency in Iraq wins if the struggle is protracted. The UDI wins if their independence is granted quickly--they did not want protractedness. As a result, I would not be inclinded to call the UDI an insurgency.

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    Default Some Just Last Longer Than Others -

    like the Native American insurgency that went for roughly 300+ years, from the Powhatan campaigns through the Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee of 1890

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goesh View Post
    like the Native American insurgency that went for roughly 300+ years, from the Powhatan campaigns through the Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee of 1890
    And would you include the Colonial insurgency of 1776 in that as well?
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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    Default Riled and Grave-rolling Ancestors

    Yup, Marct - I'd have to or bear the wrath of 3 ancestors who fought the Brits and who would most likely curse me from their graves if I defined them as disgruntled pioneers or unhappy settlers or Presbyterian insurgents, yet now I'm wondering how many of their neighbors crops their burned and cattle they killed and how many they actually bushwhacked and killed for being pro-Brit..... thanks alot, pal, for making me rub some mud on the ol' family honor as I have no doubt they brought violence against anyone they could that was connected to the Brits in any way.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by goesh View Post
    Yup, Marct - I'd have to or bear the wrath of 3 ancestors who fought the Brits and who would most likely curse me from their graves if I defined them as disgruntled pioneers or unhappy settlers or Presbyterian insurgents, yet now I'm wondering how many of their neighbors crops their burned and cattle they killed and how many they actually bushwhacked and killed for being pro-Brit..... thanks alot, pal, for making me rub some mud on the ol' family honor as I have no doubt they brought violence against anyone they could that was connected to the Brits in any way.
    Well, it's only fair since your ancestors may have burned out my ancestors

    On a more serious note, I have noted a tendency for many people in the council to make a simplistic symbolic equation: insurgency = "bad", state government = "good". I think that this is a dangerous assumption for all of us to make. Sometimes, the state just has to go...

    Marc

    ps. Not that I am in any way supporting the illegal and criminal insurgency in the Colonies! As a United Empire Loyalist, and a card carrying member of the Monarchist League, I would be burned at the stake for that!
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Can the U.S. defeat an insurgency ?

    Hey Chris !
    This one gets under my skin !

    Stoker may be right. The United States is wealthy enough to foot the bill and large enough to bear the casualties in Iraq, even if the strain on the military is causing serious problems with recruitment, retention, and maintenance.
    Jeez, I sure hope Stoker doesn't end up correct. We may be wealthy enough (although I doubt that looking at our national debt), but I have serious reservations regarding Stoker's or whomever's exaggerated opinion of (somebody else's abilities whilst they (Stoker and company) sit on their dead Alphas in front of the fire place at the the loss of more close friends, subordinates, fellow NCOs and Officers. Stoker's utter and contemptible failure to use normal rationality or perception appears all to easy, because his butt is not out there at risk. It should be, perhaps then he would shut his trap.

    Hello Marc !

    On a more serious note, I have noted a tendency for many people in the council to make a simplistic symbolic equation: insurgency = "bad", state government = "good". I think that this is a dangerous assumption for all of us to make. Sometimes, the state just has to go...
    You have become my sounding board ! Yes, that's actually a good thing (I never know which smilie to use)!

    Having watched countries fall repeatedly with loss of life considered nothing more than a means to an end, and the U.S. fish bowl "abroad" (that Tom enjoys hearing about all to often) performing "cozy" status quo for reports and as you put it so well, "simplistic symbolic equation" sends me from mere impatience to rage.

    I vote to send Stoker there with an M16

    Regards, Stan

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Tenedency...

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    On a more serious note, I have noted a tendency for many people in the council to make a simplistic symbolic equation: insurgency = "bad", state government = "good". I think that this is a dangerous assumption for all of us to make. Sometimes, the state just has to go...
    Are you serious? As in "many people" - I've read every post on the board since its inception and I am of the opinion you won't find a more neutral-based examination of insurgents and insurgencies anywhere else on the Internet - and many have experiences of such - first hand.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Red face 20lbs of Crow

    Hi Folks,

    mea culpa time...

    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    Originally Posted by marct
    On a more serious note, I have noted a tendency for many people in the council to make a simplistic symbolic equation: insurgency = "bad", state government = "good". I think that this is a dangerous assumption for all of us to make. Sometimes, the state just has to go...
    Are you serious? As in "many people" - I've read every post on the board since its inception and I am of the opinion you won't find a more neutral-based examination of insurgents and insurgencies anywhere else on the Internet - and many have experiences of such - first hand.
    Dave, if I gave the impression that I thought anyone on the board wasn't a) knowledgeable and / or b) interested in a "neutral-based examination of insurgents and insurgencies", i really apologize . I really wasn't trying to say anything like that at all.

    I just spent about 25 minutes communing with my higher power (aka my wife) about this, since she has a tendency to be able to untangle my thoughts. She suggested that I do two things. First, prepare a 20lb crow for consumption <wry grin>, and second try to explain where that comment came from.

    For the past couple of days in between work, I've been trying to come up with a series of terms to describe the GWOT. One of the terms that has been bugging me is "insurgent". It seems to me that that term implies an uprising or action against a state. It also struck me that the term is being increasingly used to refer to a violent uprising, rather than, say, a primarily "passive" attack on a state, such as the Solidarity "insurgency" in Poland or Gandhi in India.

    But I have also noticed that the term is starting to get more emotionally "charged" as well ever since the start of OIF, becoming much more "negative" towards "insurgents". And yet, wasn't Operation Provide Comfort support of an insurgency? Wasn't the alliance with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, followed by the invasion and ousting of the Taliban government an "insurgency"? All I was trying to say, in my rather ham handed way, was that I think we have to be careful with the terms and try to avoid the current emotional connotations that are raging through the popular press.

    Rereading what I wrote, I realize how stupidly worded it was - especially the part about "many people in the council". It was never my intention to insult the people here in any way - I have way to much respect for everyone here. And yes, Dave, I do know that this is the best place on the Internet for talking about insurgencies, and that many of the people here do have first hand experience with them. No insult was intended and, if any was taken, I offer my most profound apology.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Mea Culpa

    Marc,

    Thanks, quite the mea culpa. I understand where you are coming from and thought that may have been the case - just wanted to make sure. Just eat 10lbs of crow as you are a valued Council member and have added much to the discussion on the complex issues associated with small wars.

    Dave

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default defeat an insurgency

    Now that I'm done doing what I typically do with articles (far into left field) I'd like to share some older versions of insurgency, but they had help.

    The Estonian War Of Independence (1918 - 1920) was successful but they had lots of help to accomplish this, and perhaps (I hate this part) Stoker may be in the right direction, but that doesn't mean for a second I agree with more of US and THEM sit idle.

    Representatives from many nations fought for Estonia's freedom. The Danish Volunteers Patrol under the command of LTC Rickard Gustav Bergelin, the Ingrian Battalion, the Baltic Regiment of Baltic Germans, Finnish Volunteer, 1st Squad, Swedes, Latvians and several other nations. Even resident foreigners would join Estonia's 2nd Category of the Defense League under a very simple rule "if you are eating our bread, you have commitments to the State". The Finns would later send 2,000 more of their Northern Sons Region under direct Estonian command.

    All this rambling, but my point is they needed and received help, and we seem content on sending in more of US instead of getting more from THEM.

    You're probably wondering why all this Bravo Sierra about Estonia, a country with less than 1.5 million and a combined military force of 7,000. Estonia to this day supports U.S. Forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq with light platoons. Estonia's annual national budget wouldn't move the Pentagon 2 inches anywhere in a fiscal year.

    Regards, Stan

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default The Why's of Estonia...

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Reber View Post
    You're probably wondering why all this Bravo Sierra about Estonia, a country with less than 1.5 million and a combined military force of 7,000. Estonia to this day supports U.S. Forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq with light platoons. Estonia's annual national budget wouldn't move the Pentagon 2 inches anywhere in a fiscal year.
    Hi Stan,

    Actually, I'd be really interested in how Estonia's press is spinning their reasons for involvement.

    Marc
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    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Default

    I think it is the duty of every citizen in a society to actually weigh the conditions under which an insurgency, armed or not would be justified, if fought in their own country.

    It is a healthy exercise for both the citizens and the society. Not the insurgency, necessarily, but the mental exercise of actually considering it.

    The more I look at Iraq, the harder it is to wrap my mind around just exactly what the other side is fighting for. The more I learn, the less I know....

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default Thought experiments

    Hi 120mm,

    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    I think it is the duty of every citizen in a society to actually weigh the conditions under which an insurgency, armed or not would be justified, if fought in their own country.

    It is a healthy exercise for both the citizens and the society. Not the insurgency, necessarily, but the mental exercise of actually considering it.
    That's a very "Anglo culture complex" belief; and I agree with it . It's one of those core cultural questions / observations that gets brought up very rarely. How often do we hear about the concept of "duty" in the popular press, except in an almost embarrassed way? It's also a question that we, in the Anglo culture complex have not only asked but have answered via the Magna Carta.

    I totally agree with you that it is a healthy exercise, but it is certainly not one that is encouraged in our schools <wry grin>.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default How Estonia's press is spinning their reasons

    Hello Marc,
    I like 120mm's thought process, but then I am also in a sense anglo and tend to think that way. Tom would kick me and wake up the other side of my thought process when he thought I was drifting.

    The press here were trashing US for the longest time. Especially when Estonia lost bomb techs and infantrymen. Again, size is everything (afterall, 5 from 7,000 is a big deal, especially when you consider the birth rate is in the red).

    We tend to live with the fact that 3,000 US military have sacraficed their lives And I have a very hard time with that number. But Estonia's people take the loss of 3 to 5 people in support of another country to the extreme, and as you already guessed, the press have a field day.

    When POTUS - GWB visited in late November, all that changed. For some or many reasons, his visit pumped the country up and the new Estonian President (who spent more than 25 years studying in the States) stood firm with Estonian comitments. The poles later told the story. Over 90 percent in approval for what they were doing and the stories stopped.

    We do not lack volunteers. A Platoon is what was promised and we have sufficient volunteers to take us into 2010, 35 at a time for 6 months.

    Regards, Stan

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default I think it is the duty of every citizen

    Hey 120mm !
    After 23 years in the US Army defending for others I completely agree with you. If the general population is not behind this movement, all the help in the world won't mean Julliet Sierra and there's not enough ammo for us to do it for them.

    Time for folks to get involved, and then help from the rest may come somewhat faster and even work.


    Hi Marc !
    How often do we hear about the concept of "duty" in the popular press
    You always seem to have all the hard questions
    I like your questions, but wished I had the answers. BTW, I hate journalists !
    They do their job, but rarely do their homework. Now we're down to opnions...I am not going there today, too many brews !

    Regards, Stan

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