An insurgency is a rebellion against authority (for example, an
authority recognized as such by the United Nations) when those taking
part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents. An
insurgency can be fought via counter-insurgency warfare, and may also
be opposed by measures to protect the population, and by political and
economic actions of various kinds aimed at undermining the insurgents'
claims against the incumbent regime. The nature of insurgencies is
an ambiguous concept.
Not all rebellions are insurgencies. There have been many cases of
non-violent rebellions, using civil resistance, as in the People Power
Revolution in the
Philippines in the 1980s that ousted President
Marcos and the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Where a revolt takes
the form of armed rebellion, it may not be viewed as an insurgency if
a state of belligerency exists between one or more sovereign states
and rebel forces. For example, during the American Civil War, the
Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America was not recognized as a sovereign state,
but it was recognized as a belligerent power, and thus Confederate
warships were given the same rights as
United States warships in
When insurgency is used to describe a movement's unlawfulness by
virtue of not being authorized by or in accordance with the law of the
land, its use is neutral. However, when it is used by a state or
another authority under threat, "insurgency" often also carries an
implication that the rebels' cause is illegitimate, whereas those
rising up will see the authority of the state as being
illegitimate. Criticisms of widely held ideas and actions about
insurgency started to occur in works of the 1960s; they are still
common in recent studies.
Sometimes there may be one or more simultaneous insurgencies
(multipolar) occurring in a country. The
Iraq insurgency is one
example of a recognized government versus multiple groups of
insurgents. Other historic insurgencies, such as the Russian Civil
War, have been multipolar rather than a straightforward model made up
of two sides. During the Angolan Civil
War there were two main sides:
MPLA and UNITA. At the same time, there was another separatist
movement for the independence of the Cabinda region headed up by FLEC.
Multipolarity extends the definition of insurgency to situations where
there is no recognized authority, as in the Somali Civil War,
especially the period from 1998 to 2006, where it broke into
quasi-autonomous smaller states, fighting among one another in
Insurgency and civil wars
4 Political rhetoric, myths and models
4.1 Kilcullen's pillars
4.2 Eizenstat and closing gaps
4.3 McCormick Magic Diamond
4.4 Barnett and connecting to the core
4.5 Cordesman and security
4.6 Asymmetric and irregular conflicts
6 See also
The so-called kuruc were armed anti-
Habsburg rebels in Royal Hungary
between 1671 and 1711.
If there is a rebellion against the authority (for example the United
Nations) and those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as
belligerents, the rebellion is an insurgency. However, not all
rebellions are insurgencies, as a state of belligerency may exist
between one or more sovereign states and rebel forces. For example,
during the American Civil War, the
Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America was
not recognized as a sovereign state, but it was recognized as a
belligerent power and so Confederate warships were given the same
rights as US warships in foreign ports.
When insurgency is used to describe a movement's unlawfulness by
virtue of not being authorized by or in accordance with the law of the
land, its use is neutral. However, when it is used by a state or
another authority under threat, "insurgency" often also carries an
implication that the rebels' cause is illegitimate, and those rising
up will see the authority itself as being illegitimate.
The use of the term insurgency recognizes the political motivation of
those who participate in an insurgency, but the term brigandry implies
no political motivation. If an uprising has little support (for
example, those who continue to resist towards the end of an armed
conflict when most of their allies have surrendered), such a
resistance may be described as brigandry and those who participate as
The distinction on whether an uprising is an insurgency or a
belligerency has not been as clearly codified as many other areas
covered by the internationally accepted laws of war for two reasons.
The first is that international law traditionally does not encroach on
matters that are solely the internal affairs of a sovereign state, but
recent developments such as the responsibility to protect, are
starting to undermine the traditional approach. The second is that at
the Hague Conference of 1899, there was disagreement between the Great
Powers who considered francs-tireurs to be unlawful combatants subject
to execution on capture, and smaller states, which maintained that
they should be considered lawful combatants. The dispute resulted in a
compromise wording being included in the Hague Conventions known as
Martens Clause from the diplomat who drafted the clause.
The Third Geneva Convention, as well as the other Geneva Conventions,
is oriented to conflict involving nation-states and only loosely
addresses irregular forces:
Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps,
including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a
Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory,
even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or
volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements....
United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense (DOD) defines it as this: "An
organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government
through use of subversion and armed conflict." The United States
counterinsurgency Field Manual,
This definition does not consider the morality of the conflict, or the
different viewpoints of the government and the insurgents. It is
focused more on the operational aspects of the types of actions taken
by the insurgents and the counter-insurgents.
The Department of Defense's (DOD) definition focuses on the type of
violence employed (unlawful) towards specified ends (political,
religious or ideological). This characterization fails to address the
argument from moral relativity that "one man's terrorist is another
man's freedom fighter." In essence, this objection to a suitable
definition submits that while violence may be "unlawful" in accordance
with a victim's statutes, the cause served by those committing the
acts may represent a positive good in the eyes of neutral observers.
— Michael F. Morris
The French expert on Indochina and Vietnam, Bernard Fall, who wrote
Street Without Joy, said that "revolutionary warfare" (guerrilla
warfare plus political action) might be a more accurate term to
describe small wars such as insurgencies.
Insurgency has been used
for years in professional military literature. Under the British, the
situation in Malaya as often called the "Malayan insurgency" or
"the Troubles" in Northern Ireland. Insurgencies have existed in many
countries and regions, including the Philippines, Indonesia,
Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kashmir, Northeast India, Yemen, Djibouti,
Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Democratic Republic of the Congo, the
American colonies of Great Britain, and the Confederate States of
America. Each had different specifics but shared the property of
an attempt to disrupt the central government by means considered
illegal by that government. North points out, however, that insurgents
today need not be part of a highly organized movement:
Some are networked with only loose objectives and mission-type orders
to enhance their survival. Most are divided and factionalized by area,
composition, or goals. Strike one against the current definition of
insurgency. It is not relevant to the enemies we face today. Many of
these enemies do not currently seek the overthrow of a constituted
government... weak government control is useful and perhaps essential
for many of these "enemies of the state" to survive and operate."
Insurgency and civil wars
According to James D. Fearon, wars have a rationalist explanation
behind them, which explains why leaders prefer to gamble in wars and
avoid peaceful bargains. Fearon states that intermediate bargains
can be a problem because countries cannot easily trade territories
with the spread of nationalism. Furthermore, wars can take the
form of civil wars. In her article Why Bad
Governance Leads to Civil
Barbara F. Walter has presented a theory that explains the role
of strong institutions in preventing insurgencies that can result in
civil wars. Walter believes that institutions can contribute to four
goals. Institutions are responsible for checking the government,
creating multiple peaceful routes to help the government solve
problems, making the government committed to political terms that
entails preserving peace, and lastly, creating an atmosphere where
rebels do not need to form militias. Furthermore, Walter adds that
if there is a conflict between the government and the insurgents in
the form of a civil war, this can bring about a new government that is
accountable to a wider range of people - people who have to commit to
a compromise in political bargains. According to Walter, although the
presence of strong influential institutions can be beneficial to
prevent the repetition of civil wars, autocratic governments are less
likely to accept the emergence of strong institutions due to its
resulting constraint of governmental corruption and privileges. In her
book, Insurgent Collective Action and Civil
War in Salvador, Elisabeth
Jean Wood explains that participants in high-risk activism are very
aware of the costs and benefits of engaging in civil wars. Wood
suggests that "participants in the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign in the
US South ran high risks of bodily harm in challenging the
long-standing practices of racial exclusion in Mississippi”. There
are many selective incentives that encourage insurgency and violent
movements against the autocratic political regimes. For example, the
supply of safety as a material good can be provided by the insurgents
which abolishes the exploitation of the government and thus forms one
of the main incentives. The revolutionary power can help manifest a
social political network that in return provides access to political
opportunities to diverse candidates who share a collective identity
and cultural homogeneity. Also, civil wars and insurgencies can
provide employment and access to services and resources that were once
taken over by the autocratic regimes.
Insurgencies differ in their use of tactics and methods. In a 2004
article, Robert R. Tomes spoke of four elements that "typically
encompass an insurgency":
cell-networks that maintain secrecy
terrorism used to foster insecurity among the population and drive
them to the insurgents for protection
multifaceted attempts to cultivate support in the general population,
often by undermining the new regime
attacks against the government
Tomes' is an example of a definition that does not cover all
insurgencies. For example, the
French Revolution had no cell system,
and in the American Revolution, little to no attempt was made to
terrorize civilians. In consecutive coups in 1977 and
1999 in Pakistan, the initial actions focused internally on the
government rather than on seeking broad support. While Tomes'
definition fits well with Mao's Phase I, it does not deal well
with larger civil wars. Mao does assume terrorism is usually part of
the early phases, but it is not always present in revolutionary
Tomes offers an indirect definition of insurgency, drawn from
Trinquier's definition of counterinsurgency: "an interlocking system
of actions—political, economic, psychological, military—that aims
at the [insurgents' intended] overthrow of the established authority
in a country and its replacement by another regime."
Steven Metz observes that past models of insurgency do not
perfectly fit modern insurgency, in that current instances are far
more likely to have a multinational or transnational character than
those of the past. Several insurgencies may belong to more complex
conflicts, involving "third forces (armed groups which affect the
outcome, such as militias) and fourth forces (unarmed groups which
affect the outcome, such as international media), who may be distinct
from the core insurgents and the recognized government. While overt
state sponsorship becomes less common, sponsorship by transnational
groups is more common. "The nesting of insurgency within complex
conflicts associated with state weakness or failure..." (See the
discussion of failed states below.) Metz suggests that contemporary
insurgencies have far more complex and shifting participation than
traditional wars, where discrete belligerents seek a clear strategic
Main article: Terrorism
Many insurgencies include terrorism. While there is no accepted
definition of terrorism in international law, United Nations-sponsored
working definitions include one drafted by
Alex P. Schmid
Alex P. Schmid for the
Policy Working Group on the
United Nations and Terrorism. Reporting to
the Secretary-General in 2002, the Working Group stated the following:
Without attempting a comprehensive definition of terrorism, it would
be useful to delineate some broad characteristics of the phenomenon.
Terrorism is, in most cases, essentially a political act. It is meant
to inflict dramatic and deadly injury on civilians and to create an
atmosphere of fear, generally for a political or ideological (whether
secular or religious) purpose.
Terrorism is a criminal act, but it is
more than mere criminality. To overcome the problem of terrorism it is
necessary to understand its political nature as well as its basic
criminality and psychology. The
United Nations needs to address both
sides of this equation.
Yet another conflict of definitions involves insurgency versus
terrorism. The winning essay of the 24th Annual
United States Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategic Essay Contest, by Michael F.
Morris, said [A pure terrorist group] "may pursue political, even
revolutionary, goals, but their violence replaces rather than
complements a political program." Morris made the point that the
use, or non-use, of terrorism does not define insurgency, "but that
organizational traits have traditionally provided another means to
tell the two apart. Insurgencies normally field fighting forces orders
of magnitude larger than those of terrorist organizations."
Insurgencies have a political purpose, and may provide social services
and have an overt, even legal, political wing. Their covert wing
carries out attacks on military forces with tactics such as raids and
ambushes, as well as acts of terror such as attacks that cause
deliberate civilian casualties.
Mao considered terrorism a basic part of his first part of the three
phases of revolutionary warfare. Several insurgency models
recognize that completed acts of terrorism widen the security gap; the
Marxist guerrilla theoretician
Carlos Marighella specifically
recommended acts of terror, as a means of accomplishing something that
fits the concept of opening the security gap. Mao considered
terrorism to be part of forming a guerilla movement.
Main article: Subversion
While not every insurgency involves terror, most involve an equally
hard to define tactic, subversion. "When a country is being subverted
it is not being outfought; it is being out-administered.
literally administration with a minus sign in front." The
exceptional cases of insurgency without subversion are those when
there is no accepted government that is providing administrative
While it is less commonly used by current U.S. spokesmen, that may be
due to the hyperbolic way it was used in the past, in a specifically
anticommunist context. U.S. Secretary of State
Dean Rusk did in April
1962, when he declared that urgent action was required before the
"enemy's subversive politico-military teams find fertile spawning
grounds for their fish eggs."
In a Western context, Rosenau cites a British Secret Intelligence
Service definition as "a generalized intention to (emphasis added)
"overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political,
industrial or violent means." While insurgents do not necessarily use
terror, it is hard to imagine any insurgency meeting its goals without
undermining aspects of the legitimacy or power of the government or
faction it opposes. Rosenau mentions a more recent definition that
suggests subversion includes measures short of violence, which still
serve the purposes of insurgents. Rarely, subversion alone can
change a government; this arguably happened in the liberalization of
Eastern Europe. To the Communist government of
Poland, Solidarity appeared subversive but not violent.[citation
Political rhetoric, myths and models
In arguing against the term Global
War on Terror, Francis Fukuyama
United States was not fighting terrorism generically, as in
Chechnya or Palestine. Rather, he said the slogan "war on terror" is
directed at "radical Islamism, a movement that makes use of culture
for political objectives." He suggested it might be deeper than the
ideological conflict of the Cold War, but it should not be confused
with Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations." Addressing
Huntington's thesis, Fukuyama stressed that the US and its allies
need to focus on specific radical groups rather than clash with global
Fukuyama argued that political means, rather than direct military
measures, are the most effective ways to defeat that insurgency.
David Kilcullen wrote "We must distinguish Al Qa'eda and the broader
militant movements it symbolises – entities that use terrorism –
from the tactic of terrorism itself."
There may be utility in examining a war not specifically on the tactic
of terror but in co-ordination among multiple national or regional
insurgencies. It may be politically infeasible to refer to a conflict
as an "insurgency" rather than by some more charged term, but military
analysts, when concepts associated with insurgency fit, should not
ignore those ideas in their planning. Additionally, the
recommendations can be applied to the strategic campaign, even if it
is politically unfeasible to use precise terminology.
While it may be reasonable to consider transnational insurgency,
Anthony Cordesman points out some of the myths in trying to have a
worldwide view of terror:
Cooperation can be based on trust and common values: one man's
terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
A definition of terrorism exists that can be accepted by all.
Intelligence can be freely shared.
Other states can be counted on to keep information secure and use it
to mutual advantage.
International institutions are secure and trustworthy.
Internal instability and security issues do not require
compartmentation and secrecy at national level.
The "war on terrorism" creates common priorities and needs for action.
Global and regional cooperation is the natural basis for international
Legal systems are compatible enough for cooperation.
Human rights and rule of law differences do not limit cooperation.
Most needs are identical.
Co-operation can be separated from financial needs and resources.
Social scientists, soldiers, and sources of change have been modeling
insurgency for nearly a century if one starts with Mao.
Counterinsurgency models, not mutually exclusive from one another,
come from Kilcullen, McCormick, Barnett and Eizenstat. Kilcullen
describes the "pillars" of a stable society, while Eizenstat addresses
the "gaps" that form cracks in societal stability. McCormick's model
shows the interplay among the actors: insurgents, government,
population and external organizations. Barnett discusses the
relationship of the country with the outside world, and Cordesman
focuses on the specifics of providing security.
Recent studies have tried to model the conceptual architecture of
insurgent warfare using computational and mathematical modelling. A
recent study by Juan Camilo Bohorquez, Sean Gourley, Alexander R.
Dixon, Michael Spagat, and Neil F. Johnson entitled "Common Ecology
Quantifies Human Insurgency", suggests a common structure for 9
contemporary insurgent wars, supported on statistical data of more
than 50,000 insurgent attacks. The model explains the recurrent
statistical pattern found in the distribution of deaths in insurgent
and terrorist events.
Kilcullen Figure 1: Ecosystem of Insurgency
Kilcullen's Three Pillars
Kilcullen describes a framework for counterinsurgency. He gives a
visual overview of the actors in his model of conflicts, which he
represents as a box containing an "ecosystem" defined by geographic,
ethnic, economic, social, cultural, and religious characteristics.
Inside the box are, among others, governments, counterinsurgent
forces, insurgent leaders, insurgent forces, and the general
population, which is made up of three groups:
those committed to the insurgents;
those committed to the counterinsurgents;
those who simply wish to get on with their lives.
Often, but not always, states or groups that aid one side or the other
are outside the box. Outside-the-box intervention has dynamics of its
The counterinsurgency strategy can be described as efforts to end the
insurgency by a campaign developed in balance along three "pillars":
security, political, and economical.
"Obviously enough, you cannot command what you do not control.
Therefore, unity of command (between agencies or among government and
non-government actors) means little in this environment." Unity of
command is one of the axioms of military doctrine that change with
the use of swarming:. In Edwards' swarming model, as in
Kilcullen's mode, unity of command becomes "unity of effort at best,
and collaboration or deconfliction at least."
As in swarming, in Kilcullen's view unity of effort "depends less on a
shared command and control hierarchy, and more on a shared diagnosis
of the problem (i.e., the distributed knowledge of swarms), platforms
for collaboration, information sharing and deconfliction. Each player
must understand the others' strengths, weaknesses, capabilities and
objectives, and inter-agency teams must be structured for versatility
(the ability to perform a wide variety of tasks) and agility (the
ability to transition rapidly and smoothly between tasks)."
Eizenstat and closing gaps
Insurgencies, according to Stuart Eizenstat grow out of "gaps". To
be viable, a state must be able to close three "gaps", of which the
first is most important:
Security: protection "... against internal and external threats, and
preserving sovereignty over territory. If a government cannot ensure
security, rebellious armed groups or criminal nonstate actors may use
violence to exploit this security gap—as in Haiti, Nepal, and
Capacity: the survival needs of water, electrical power, food and
public health, closely followed by education, communications and a
working economic system. "An inability to do so creates a capacity
gap, which can lead to a loss of public confidence and then perhaps
political upheaval. In most environments, a capacity gap coexists
with—or even grows out of—a security gap. In
Afghanistan and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, segments of the
population are cut off from their governments because of endemic
insecurity. And in postconflict Iraq, critical capacity gaps exist
despite the country's relative wealth and strategic importance."
Legitimacy: closing the legitimacy gap is more than an incantation of
"democracy" and "elections", but a government that is perceived to
exist by the consent of the governed, has minimal corruption, and has
a working law enforcement and judicial system that enforce human
Note the similarity between Eizenstat's gaps and Kilcullen's three
pillars. In the table below, do not assume that a problematic
state is unable to assist less developed states while closing its own
Rough classification of states[original research?]
Militarily strong but weak in other institutions
Lower tensions before working on gaps
Cuba, North Korea
Continuing development of working institutions. Focused private
El Salvador, Ghana, Mongolia, Senegal, Nicaragua, Uganda
Close one or two gaps
Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan,
Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Syria,
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe
Close all gaps
Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia,
McCormick Magic Diamond
McCormick's model is designed as a tool for counterinsurgency
(COIN), but develops a symmetrical view of the required actions for
both the Insurgent and COIN forces to achieve success. In this way the
counterinsurgency model can demonstrate how both the insurgent and
COIN forces succeed or fail. The model's strategies and principle
apply to both forces, therefore the degree the forces follow the model
should have a direct correlation to the success or failure of either
the Insurgent or COIN force.
McCormick insurgency model
The model depicts four key elements or players:
Counterinsurgency force (i.e., the government)
All of these interact, and the different elements have to assess their
best options in a set of actions:
Gaining support of the population
Disrupt opponent's control over the population
Direct action against opponent
Disrupt opponent's relations with the international community
Establish relationships with the international community
Barnett and connecting to the core
In Thomas Barnett's paradigm, the world is divided into a
"connected core" of nations enjoying a high level of communications
among their organizations and individuals, and those nations that are
disconnected internally and externally. In a reasonably peaceful
situation, he describes a "system administrator" force, often
multinational, which does what some call "nation-building", but, most
importantly, connects the nation to the core and empowers the natives
to communicate—that communication can be likened to swarm
coordination. If the state is occupied, or in civil war, another
paradigm comes into play: the leviathan, a first-world military force
that takes down the opposition regular forces. Leviathan is not
constituted to fight local insurgencies, but major forces. Leviathan
may use extensive swarming at the tactical level, but its dispatch is
a strategic decision that may be made unilaterally, or by an
established group of the core such as
NATO or ASEAN.
Cordesman and security
Other than brief "Leviathan" takedowns, security building appears to
need to be regional, with logistical and other technical support from
more developed countries and alliances (e.g., ASEAN, NATO). Noncombat
military assistance in closing the security gap begins with training,
sometimes in specialized areas such as intelligence. More direct, but
still noncombat support, includes intelligence, planning, logistics
Anthony Cordesman notes that security requirements differ by region
and state in region. Writing on the Middle East, he identified
different security needs for specific areas, as well as the US
interest in security in those areas.
In North Africa, the US focus should be on security cooperation in
achieving regional stability and in counterterrorism.
In the Levant, the US must largely compartment security cooperation
with Israel and cooperation with friendly Arab states like Egypt,
Jordan, and Lebanon, but can improve security cooperation with all
In the Persian Gulf, the US must deal with the strategic importance of
a region whose petroleum and growing gas exports fuel key elements of
the global economy.
It is well to understand that counterterrorism, as used by Cordesman,
does not mean using terrorism against the terrorism, but an entire
spectrum of activities, nonviolent and violent, to disrupt an opposing
terrorist organization. The French general, Joseph Gallieni, observed,
while a colonial administrator in 1898,
A country is not conquered and pacified when a military operation has
decimated its inhabitants and made all heads bow in terror; the
ferments of revolt will germinate in the mass and the rancours
accumulated by the brutal action of force will make them grow
Both Kilcullen and Eizenstat define a more abstract goal than does
Cordesman. Kilcullen's security pillar is roughly equivalent to
Eizenstat's security gap:
Military security (securing the population from attack or intimidation
by guerrillas, bandits, terrorists or other armed groups)
Police security (community policing, police intelligence or "Special
Branch" activities, and paramilitary police field forces).
Human security, building a framework of human rights, civil
institutions and individual protections, public safety (fire,
ambulance, sanitation, civil defense) and population security.
This pillar most engages military commanders' attention, but of course
military means are applied across the model, not just in the security
domain, while civilian activity is critically important in the
security pillar also ... all three pillars must develop in parallel
and stay in balance, while being firmly based in an effective
Anthony Cordesman, while speaking of the specific situation in Iraq,
makes some points that can be generalized to other nations in
turmoil. Cordesman recognizes some value in the groupings in
Samuel P. Huntington's idea of the clash of civilizations, but,
rather assuming the civilizations must clash, these civilizations
simply can be recognized as actors in a multinational world. In the
case of Iraq, Cordesman observes that the burden is on the Islamic
civilization, not unilaterally the West, if for no other reason that
the civilization to which the problematic nation belongs will have
cultural and linguistic context that Western civilization cannot hope
The heart of strengthening weak nations must come from within, and
that heart will fail if they deny that the real issue is the future of
their civilization, if they tolerate religious, cultural or separatist
violence and terrorism when it strikes at unpopular targets, or if
they continue to try to export the blame for their own failures to
other nations, religions, and cultures.
Asymmetric and irregular conflicts
Asymmetric conflicts (or irregular conflicts), as the emerging type of
insurgencies in recent history, is described by Berman and Matanock in
their review as conflicts where "the government forces have a clear
advantage over rebels in coercive capacity." In this kind of
conflicts, rebel groups can reintegrate into the civilian population
after an attack if the civilians are willing to silently accept them.
Some of the most recent examples include the conflicts in Afghanistan
and Iraq. As the western countries intervenes in the conflicts,
creating asymmetry between the government forces and rebels,
asymmetric conflict is the most common form of subnational conflicts
and the most civil conflicts where the western countries are likely to
be involved. Such interventions and their impacts can be seen in the
NATO operation in Libya in 2011 and the French-led intervention in
Mali in 2013.
Berman and Matanock suggested an information-centric framework to
describe asymmetric conflicts on a local level. Three parties are
involved in framework: government forces, rebels and civilians.
Government forces and rebels attack each other and may inadvertently
harm civilians whereas civilians can anonymously share local
information with government forces, which would allow government
forces to effectively use their asymmetric advantage to target rebels.
Taking the role of civilians in this framework into consideration, the
government and rebels will divert resources to provide services to
civilians so as to influence their decision about sharing information
with the government.
The framework is based on several assumptions:
The consequential action of civilians is information sharing.
Information can be shared anonymously without endangering the
civilians who do so and civilians are assumed to respond to
Neither side of government forces and rebels will actively target
civilians with coercion or intimidation.
This framework leads to five major implications for counterinsurgency
The government and rebels have an incentive to provide services to
civilians, which increases with the value of the information shared.
Rebel violence may be reduced by service provision from the
Projects that address the needs of the civilians in the local
communities and conditioned on information sharing by the community
are more effective in reducing rebel violence. In practice, these may
be smaller projects that are developed through consultation with local
communities, which are also more easily revoked when information is
Innovations that increase the value of projects to local civilians,
such as including development professionals in project design and
implementation, will enhance the effect of violence-reducing.
Security provided by the government and service provision (i.e.
development spending) are complementary activities.
If either side of the government forces or rebels causes casualties
among civilians, civilians will reduce their support for that side.
Innovations that make anonymous tips to the government easier, of
which are often technical, can reduce rebel violence.
These implications are tested by empirical evidences from conflicts in
Iraq and several other subnational conflicts. Further
research on governance, rule of law, attitudes, dynamics and agency
between allies are needed to better understand asymmetric conflicts
and to have better informed decisions made at the tactical, strategic
and public policy levels.
Counter-insurgency and Foreign internal defense
Before one counters an insurgency, however, one must understand what
one is countering. Typically the most successful counterinsurgencies
have been the British in the Malay Emergency and the Filipino
government's countering of the Huk Rebellion. In the
Philippine–American War, the U.S. forces successfully quelled the
Filipino insurgents by 1902, albeit with tactics considered
unacceptable by the majority of modern populations.
Fourth generation warfare
Violent non-state actor
Foreign internal defense
Unconventional warfare (
United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense doctrine)
List of revolutions and rebellions
Hearts and Minds (Vietnam)
Insurgency in North East India
Insurgency in the North Caucasus
Islamic insurgency in the Philippines
South Thailand insurgency
^ a b
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary second edition 1989 "insurgent B. n.
One who rises in revolt against constituted authority; a rebel who is
not recognized as a belligerent."
^ These points are emphasized in many works on insurgency, including
Peter Paret, French Revolutionary Warfare from Indochina to Algeria:
The Analysis of a Political and Military Doctrine, Pall Mall Press,
^ Roberts, Adam and
Timothy Garton Ash
Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and
Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to
the Present, Oxford University Press, 2009. See . Includes chapters
by specialists on the various movements.
^ Hall, Kermit L. The Oxford Guide to
United States Supreme Court
Decisions, Oxford University Press US, 2001 ISBN 0-19-513924-0,
ISBN 978-0-19-513924-2 p. 246 "In supporting Lincoln on this
issue, the Supreme Court upheld his theory of the Civil
War as an
insurrection against the
United States government that could be
suppressed according to the rules of war. In this way the United
States was able to fight the war as if it were an international war,
without actually having to recognize the de jure existence of the
^ Staff. Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian ->
Timeline of U.S. Diplomatic History -> 1861-1865:The Blockade of
Confederate Ports, 1861-1865, U.S. State Department. "Following the
U.S. announcement of its intention to establish an official blockade
of Confederate ports, foreign governments began to recognize the
Confederacy as a belligerent in the Civil War.
Great Britain granted
belligerent status on May 13, 1861, Spain on June 17, and Brazil on
August 1. Other foreign governments issued statements of neutrality."
^ Goldstein, Erik; McKercher, B. J. C. Power and stability: British
foreign policy, 1865-1965, Routledge, 2003 ISBN 0-7146-8442-2,
ISBN 978-0-7146-8442-0. p. 63
^ Weigand, Florian (August 2017). "Afghanistan's Taliban –
Legitimate Jihadists or Coercive Extremists?". Journal of Intervention
and Statebuilding. 11:3: 359–381.
^ See, for example, Franklin Mark Osanka, ed., Modern Guerrilha
Warfare (New York: Free Press, 1962): Peter Paret and John W. Shy,
Guerrilhas in the 1960's (New York: Praeger, 1962); Harry Eckstein,
ed., Internal War: Problem and Approaches (New York: Free Press,
1964); and Henry Bienen, Violence and Social Change (Chicago: Chicago
University Press, 1968).
^ Examples are Douglas Blaufarb, The Counter-
Insurgency Era: U.S.
Doctrine and Performance (New York: Free Press, 1977), and D. Michael
Shafer, Deadly Paradigmes: The Failure of U.S. Counterinsurgency
Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988).
^ Francis Lieber, Richard Shelly Hartigan Lieber's Code and the
War, Transaction Publishers, 1983 ISBN 0-913750-25-5,
ISBN 978-0-913750-25-4. p. 95
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary second edition 1989 brigandry "1980
Guardian Weekly 28 Dec. 14/2 Today the rebels wound, mutilate, and
kill civilians: where do you draw the fine line between subversion and
^ Ticehurst, Rupert. The
Martens Clause and the Laws of Armed Conflict
30 April 1997, International Review of the Red Cross no 317, p.125-134
ISSN 1560-7755. Ticehurst in footnote 1 cites The life and works
of Martens are detailed by V. Pustogarov, "Fyodor Fyodorovich Martens
(1845-1909) — A Humanist of Modern Times", International Review of
the Red Cross (IRRC), No. 312, May–June 1996, pp. 300-314. Also
Ticehurst in his footnote 2 cites F. Kalshoven, Constraints on the
Waging of War, Martinus Nijhoff, Dordrecht, 1987, p. 14.
^ "Commentary on Article 3", Convention (III) relative to the
Treatment of Prisoners of
War (Third Geneva Convention), 12 August
^ US Department of Defense (12 July 2007), Joint Publication 1-02
Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
(PDF), JP 1-02, archived from the original (PDF) on 23 November 2008,
^ Nagl, John A.; Petraeus, David H.; Amos, James F.; Sewall, Sarah
(December 2006), FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency (PDF), US Department of the
Army, retrieved 2008-02-03
^ a b Morris, Michael F. (2005), Al Qaeda as
Insurgency (PDF), United
^ Fall, Bernard B. (1994), Street Without Joy: The French debacle in
Indochina, Stackpole, ISBN 978-0-8117-3236-9
^ a b Fall, Bernard B., "The Theory and Practice of
Counterinsurgency", U.S. Naval
War College Review (April 1965)
^ Grau, Lester W. (May–June 2004), "Counterinsurgency Lessons from
Malaya and Vietnam: Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife", Military
^ Anderson, Edward G., Jr. (August 2007), "A Proof-of-Concept Model
Insurgency Management Policies Using the System
Dynamics Methodology", Strategic Insights, VI (5), archived from the
original on 2008-03-06
^ North, Chris (January–February 2008), "Redefining Insurgency"
(PDF), Military Review, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center
^ a b Fearon, James (Summer 1995). "Rationalist Explanations for War".
International Organization. the MIT Press. 49: 379–414.
^ a b Walter, Barbara (March 31, 2014). "Why Bad
Governance Leads to
Repeat Civil War". Conflict Resolutions. 59 (7): 1242–1272.
^ a b Wood, Elisabeth (2003). Insurgent Collective Action and Civil
War in El Salvador. New York: Cambridge University Press.
pp. 1–30. ISBN 9780511808685.
^ Tomes, Robert R. (2004), "Relearning Counterinsurgency Warfare"
United States Army
^ a b c Mao Tse-tung (1967), "On Protracted War", Selected Works of
Mao Tse-tung, Foreign Languages Press
^ Trinquier, Roger (1961), Modern Warfare: A French View of
Counterinsurgency, Editions de la Table Ronde, archived from the
original on 2008-01-12
^ Metz, Steven (5 June 2007), Rethinking Insurgency, Strategic Studies
Institute, U.S. Army
^ Secretary General's Policy Working Group on the
United Nations and
Terrorism (December 2004), "Preface" (PDF), Focus on Crime and
Society, 4 (1 & 2), (A/57/273-S/2002/875, annex)
^ Marighella, Carlos (1969), Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla
^ a b Rosenau, William (2007),
Subversion and Insurgency, RAND
National Defense Research Institute
^ a b Huntington, Samuel P. (1996). The Clash of Civilizations and the
Remaking of World Order. Simon & Schuster.
^ Fukuyama, Francis (May 2003), "Panel III: Integrating the
Terrorism with Broader U.S. Foreign Policy", Phase III in the
Terrorism: Challenges and Opportunities (PDF), Brookings Institution,
archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-15
^ Kilcullen, David (2004), Countering Global Insurgency: A Strategy
Terrorism (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on
^ Canonico, Peter J. (December 2004), An Alternate Military Strategy
Terrorism (PDF), U.S. Naval Postgraduate School,
archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-04-14
^ a b Cordesman, Anthony H. (29 October 2007), Security Cooperation in
the Middle East, Center for Strategic and International Studies,
archived from the original on 10 April 2008
^ Bohorquez; et al. (December 2009), "Common Ecology Quantifies Human
Insurgency", Nature, 462: 911–914, doi:10.1038/nature08631
^ Clauset A, Gleditsch KS (2012), The Developmental Dynamics of
Terrorist Organizations, PLoS One,
^ a b c d e Kilcullen, David (28 September 2006), Three Pillars of
^ Lynn, John A. (July–August 2005), "Patterns of
Counterinsurgency" (PDF), Military Review
^ Headquarters, Department of the Army (22 February 2011)
[27 February 2008]. FM 3–0, Operations (with included
Change 1) (PDF). Washington, DC: GPO. Retrieved 31 August
^ Edwards, Sean J.A. (September 2004), Swarming and the Future of War,
PhD thesis, Pardee RAND Graduate School
^ Eizenstat, Stuart E.; John Edward Porter; Jeremy M. Weinstein
(January–February 2005), "Rebuilding Weak States" (PDF), Foreign
Affairs, 84 (1)
^ Sagraves, Robert D (April 2005), The Indirect Approach: the role of
Aviation Foreign Internal Defense in Combating
Terrorism in Weak and
Failing States (PDF), Air Command and Staff College, archived from the
original (PDF) on 2008-04-14
^ Stuart Eizenstat et al, Rebuilding Weak States Archived 2011-06-04
at the Wayback Machine., Foreign Affairs, Council on Foreign
Relations, January/February 2005. p. 136 (137 PDF)
^ McCormick, Gordon (1987), The Shining Path and Peruvian terrorism,
RAND Corporation, Document Number: P-7297. often called Magic
^ Barnett, Thomas P.M. (2005), The Pentagon's New Map: The Pentagon's
War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century, Berkley Trade,
ISBN 0425202399, Barnett-2005
^ McClintock, Michael (November 2005),
Great Power Counterinsurgency,
Human Rights First
^ Cordesman, Anthony H. (August 1, 2006), The Importance of Building
Local Capabilities: Lessons from the Counterinsurgency in Iraq, Center
for Strategic and International Studies, archived from the original on
April 10, 2008
^ a b c Berman, Eli; Matanock, Aila M. (2015-05-11). "The Empiricists'
doi:10.1146/annurev-polisci-082312-124553. Retrieved 2017-04-14.
External link in website= (help)
^ Berman, Eli; Callen, Michael; Felter, Joseph H.; Shapiro, Jacob N.
(2011-08-01). "Do Working Men Rebel?
Insurgency and Unemployment in
Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines". Journal of Conflict
Resolution. 55 (4): 496–528. doi:10.1177/0022002710393920.
^ Thomas Willis, "Lessons from the past: successful British
counterinsurgency operations in Malaya 1948–1960", July–August