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Recently, ideologies based on extremist forms of religious or ethnic identities have replaced ideologies based on secular revolutionary ideals. These new forms of old, strongly held beliefs define the identities of the most dangerous combatants in these new internal wars. These conflicts resemble the wars of religion in Europe before and after the Reformation of the 16th century. People have replaced nonfunctioning national identities with traditional sources of unity and identity. Today, when countering an insurgency growing from state collapse or failure, counterinsurgents often face a more daunting task: helping friendly forces reestablish political order and legitimacy where these conditions may no longer exist.
Interconnectedness and information technology are new aspects of this contemporary wave of in- surgencies. Using the Internet, insurgents can now link virtually with allied groups throughout a state, a region, and even the entire world. Insurgents often join loose organizations with common objectives but different motivations and no central controlling body, which makes identifying leaders difficult. Al Qaeda is a well-known example of such an insurgency. This move- ment seeks to transform the Islamic world and reorder its relationships with other regions and cultures.
Such groups often feed on local grievances.
Al Qaeda-type revolutionaries are willing to support causes they view as com- patible with their own goals through the provision of funds, volunteers, and sympathetic and targeted propaganda. While the communications and technology used for this effort are often new and modern, the grievances and methods sustaining it are not.
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As in other insurgencies, terrorism, subversion, propaganda, and open warfare are the tools of such movements. Today, these time-tested tools have been augmented by the precision munition of extremists—suicide attacks. Defeating such enemies requires a global, stra- tegic response—one that addresses the array of linked resources and conflicts that sustain these move- ments while tactically addressing the local grievances that feed them. Each insurgency is unique, although there are often similarities among them.
In all cases, insur- gents aim to force political change; any military action is secondary and subordinate, a means to an end.
US Army Field Manual FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency
Few insurgencies fit neatly into any rigid classification. In fact, counterinsurgent commanders may face a confusing and shifting coalition of many kinds of opponents, some of whom may be at odds with one an- other. Examining the specific type of insurgency they face enables commanders and staffs to build a more accurate picture of the insurgents and the thinking behind their overall approach. Such an examination identifies the following: z Root cause or causes of the insurgency. Insurgent approaches include, but are not limited to, the following: z Conspiratorial. Conspiratorial A conspiratorial approach involves a few leaders and a militant cadre or activist party seizing con- trol of government structures or exploiting a revolutionary situation.
In , Lenin used this approach in carrying out the Bolshevik Revolution.
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Such insurgents remain secretive as long as possible. They emerge only when success can be achieved quickly. Insurgents who use this approach successfully may have to create security forces and generate mass support to maintain power, as the Bolsheviks did. Military-Focused Users of military-focused approaches aim to create revolutionary possibilities or seize power pri- marily by applying military force. For example, the focoist approach, popularized by figures like Che Guevera, asserts that an insurrection itself can create the conditions needed to overthrow a government.
Focoists believe that a small group of guerrillas operating in a rural environment where grievances exist can eventually gather enough support to achieve their aims. In contrast, some secessionist insurgencies have relied on major conventional forces to try to secure their independence. Military-focused insurgen- cies conducted by Islamic extremist groups or insurgents in Africa or Latin America have little or no po- litical structure; they spread their control through movement of combat forces rather than political subver- sion.
Urban Organizations like the Irish Republican Army, certain Latin American groups, and some Islamic extremist groups in Iraq have pursued an urban approach.
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This approach uses terrorist tactics in urban ar- eas to accomplish the following: z Sow disorder. Protracted urban terrorism waged by small, independent cells requires little or no popular support. It is difficult to counter. Historically, such activities have not generated much success without wider rural support. However, as societies have become more urbanized and insurgent networks more sophisticated, this approach has become more effective. When facing adequately run internal security forces, urban in- surgencies typically assume a conspiratorial cellular structure recruited along lines of close association— family, religious affiliation, political party, or social group.
Protracted Popular War Protracted conflicts favor insurgents, and no approach makes better use of that asymmetry than the protracted popular war. The North Vietnamese and Algerians adapted it to fit their respective situations. And some Al Qaeda leaders suggest it in their writings today. This approach is complex; few contemporary insurgent move- ments apply its full program, although many apply parts of it. It is, therefore, of more than just historical interest. Knowledge of it can be a powerful aid to understanding some insurgent movements.
Phase I, strategic defensive, is a period of latent insurgency that allows time to wear down superior enemy strength while the insurgency gains support and establishes bases. During this phase, insurgent leaders develop the movement into an effective clandestine organization. Insurgents use a variety of sub- versive techniques to psychologically prepare the populace to resist the government or occupying power.
These techniques may include propaganda, demonstrations, boycotts, and sabotage. In addition, move- ment leaders organize or develop cooperative relationships with legitimate political action groups, youth groups, trade unions, and other front organizations. Doing this develops popular support for later political and military activities. Throughout this phase, the movement leadership— z Recruits, organizes, and trains cadre members.
Subversive activities are frequently executed in an organized pattern, but major combat is avoided. The primary military activity is terrorist strikes. These are executed to gain popular support, influence recalci-. In the advanced stages of this phase, the insurgent organization may establish a counterstate that parallels the established authority. A counterstate [or shadow govern- ment] is a competing structure that a movement sets up to replace the government.
It includes the adminis- trative and bureaucratic trappings of political power and performs the normal functions of a government. Phase II, strategic stalemate, begins with overt guerrilla warfare as the correlation of forces ap- proaches equilibrium. In a rural-based insurgency, guerrillas normally operate from a relatively secure base area in insurgent-controlled territory. In an urban-based insurgency, guerrillas operate clandestinely, using a cellular organization.
Subversive activities can take the form of clandestine radio broadcasts, newspapers, and pamphlets that openly challenge the control and le- gitimacy of the established authority. As the populace loses faith in the established authority the people may decide to actively resist it. During this phase, a counterstate may begin to emerge to fill gaps in gov- ernance that the host-nation HN government is unwilling or unable to address. In fact, the Mahdi Army created gaps by undermining security and services; then it moved to solve the problem it created.
Hezbol- lah provides essential services and reconstruction assistance for its constituents as well as security. Each is an expression of Shiite identity against governments that are pluralist and relatively weak. Phase III, strategic counteroffensive, occurs as the insurgent organization becomes stronger than the established authority.
Insurgent forces transition from guerrilla warfare to conventional warfare. Political actions aim to completely displace all government authorities. Without direct foreign intervention, a strategic offensive takes on the characteristics of a full-scale civil war. As it gains control of portions of the country, the insurgent movement becomes responsible for the population, resources, and territory under its control. To consolidate and preserve its gains, an effective insurgent movement continues the phase I activities listed in paragraph In addi- tion it— z Establishes an effective civil administration.
Effectively applying Maoist strategy does not require a sequential or complete application of all three stages. If unsuccessful in a later phase, the insurgency might revert to an earlier one. Later insurgents added new twists to this strategy, to include rejecting the need to eventually switch to large-scale conventional operations.
For example, the Algerian insurgents did not achieve much mili- tary success of any kind; instead they garnered decisive popular support through superior organizational skills and astute propaganda that exploited French mistakes.
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These and other factors, including the loss of will in France, compelled the French to withdraw. The North Vietnamese Dau Trahn It did not attack a single enemy center of gravity; instead it put pressure on several, asserting that, over time, victory would result in one of two ways: from activities along one LLO or the combined effects of efforts along several. At that time, the North Vietnamese shifted their focus from defeating U.
These actions expedited U. Complexity and the Shifting Mosaic Protracted popular war approaches are conducted along multiple politico-military LLOs and are locally configured.
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Insurgents may use guerrilla tactics in one province while executing terrorist attacks and an urban approach in another. There may be differences in political activities between villages in the same province. In such situations, an effective COIN strategy must be multifaceted and flexible.
Identity-Focused The identity-focused approach mobilizes support based on the common identity of religious af- filiation, clan, tribe, or ethnic group. Some movements may be based on an appeal to a religious identity, either separately from or as part of other identities. This approach is common among contemporary insur- gencies and is sometimes combined with the military-focused approach. Composite Approaches and Coalitions As occurred in Iraq, contemporary insurgents may use different approaches at different times, ap- plying tactics that take best advantage of circumstances.
Insurgents may also apply a composite approach that includes tactics drawn from any or all of the other approaches. In addition—and as in Iraq at pre- sent—different insurgent forces using different approaches may form loose coalitions when it serves their interests; however, these same movements may fight among themselves, even while engaging counterin- surgents. Within a single AO, there may be multiple competing entities, each seeking to maximize its sur- vivability and influence—and this situation may be duplicated several times across a joint operations area.
This reality further complicates both the mosaic that counterinsurgents must understand and the opera- tions necessary for victory. The primary struggle in an internal war is to mobilize people in a struggle for political control and legitimacy. Insurgents and counterinsurgents seek to mobilize popular support for their cause. Both try to sustain that struggle while discouraging support for their adversaries.
Two aspects of this effort are mobi- lization means and causes.