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Thread: Lies, Damn Lies and Counterinsurgency-AFJ

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    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Default Lies, Damn Lies and Counterinsurgency-AFJ

    Not sure if anyone had seen this. Written by a very good friend of mine that I served with in Iraq and Fort Campbell.


    Lies, damned lies and counterinsurgency
    Not all insurgencies have been protracted affairs
    BY CAPT. ROBERT M. CHAMBERLAIN

    It has become a matter of conventional wisdom that insurgencies last an average of 10 years and that the insurgents win about 40 percent of the time. These statistics have appeared in USA Today, PBS, Pentagon media briefings and on National Public Radio. The insight these numbers are meant to convey is that counterinsurgencies are inherently long and difficult struggles against wily and resilient foes, so it is unrealistic to expect rapid, quantifiable progress in the near term. Fortunately, these statistics are misleading and the associated analysis is wrong.

    The source of this mistaken conventional wisdom is the prestigious Dupuy Institute, which has been providing rigorous quantitative analysis to the military for more than 40 years. In May 2007, Dupuy researchers published the preliminary results of a study in which they examined 63 modern insurgencies for a variety of factors, including the longevity and the success rate of the conflicts. Given their analytical talent and track record of precision, their statistical computations are undoubtedly accurate. The problem, however, isnít with their math; itís with the initial selection of cases.

    According to the FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency doctrine manual, an insurgency is ďan organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict.Ē In the past 100 years, there have been considerably more than 63 movements that would fit that definition, so to create a manageable data set, only the most violent and intense conflicts are likely to be included. However, because casualty counts are often a function of time, this method naturally trends toward long wars and excludes cases in which government forces crushed the nascent insurgency before it even got off the ground.
    http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2008/05/3434645
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Interesting piece. I think he makes a bit of an error in comparing insurgencies in Latin America with those in Africa, as the culture and history in both regions are very different...and those are factors that contribute to the longevity (or lack thereof) of any insurgency.

    Still, he's right to posit that we shouldn't try to "one size fits all" our approach to insurgencies.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default He's correct in his postulation.

    Steve is also correct that Africa and Central / South America are very different but the basic point that it's totally incorrect that all insurgencies must be 'long' and the insurgents 'win' about 40% is quite accurate.

    However, while those two continents produced many of the short efforts resulting in government success, those that were longer lasting share a trait with the other area 'long' wars. Most took place on the fault line that resulted from the former Colonial powers drawing of 'logical' lines on a map -- note that all these were encouraged and aided by the NKVD / MVD/ KGB from the late 1920s forward.

    It also bears noting that that is true of Iraq -- it is NOT true of Afghanistan; the form and character of that one are totally unique. Steve and CPT Chamberlain are also correct with this: One size does not fit all

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    However, while those two continents produced many of the short efforts resulting in government success, those that were longer lasting share a trait with the other area 'long' wars. Most took place on the fault line that resulted from the former Colonial powers drawing of 'logical' lines on a map -- note that all these were encouraged and aided by the NKVD / MVD/ KGB from the late 1920s forward.
    True and even some government successes were but temporary victories in the case of Africa after the Cold War. Old foes from the Congo rebelions in the 1960s who were defeated by government and foreign forces joined with the Rwandas in 1996. the Rwandan civil war lasted 40 years in various forms. as for Uganda, Obote was run out twice--once by Idi Amin and later by Museveni who helped get rid of Amin. These see saw struggles took decades; and they are still not over.

    Tom

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Which is why a bunch of old retired dudes are sitting in a Sports Bar

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    These see saw struggles took decades; and they are still not over.
    in Ekatetineburg chortling as they watch BBC or CNN World Service. They did their job well -- and we're still trying to sort it out...

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