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Counterinsurgency Doctrine- What’s New and What’s Old - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Counterinsurgency Doctrine- What’s New and What’s Old. Dr. James Corum, All Souls College. LTC USAR. US Military and Counterinsurgency-- early 1970s --2001. Vietnam syndrome affects whole officer corps (see Conrad Crane’s study)

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Counterinsurgency Doctrine- What’s New and What’s Old

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Counterinsurgency Doctrine- What’s New and What’s Old

Dr. James Corum, All Souls College.


US Military and Counterinsurgency-- early 1970s --2001

  • Vietnam syndrome affects whole officer corps (see Conrad Crane’s study)

  • Counterinsurgency study shut down in staff colleges and war colleges

  • Open hostility to the subject among senior officers

  • Despite El Salvador and several small wars– little attempt at higher level to learn lessons

  • Assumption that conflict has been transformed by technology– Emphasis on high tech opns against enemy states

  • US policy and doctrine for short, decisive wars against conventional states

US View of Future War in mid-1990s

Iraq War/ Afghanistan. Relearning old lessons– trying to learn new ones

  • Army War College- Steve Biddle AWC- “Afghanistan and the Future of War”

  • US faith in high tech overdone. Only 50% of al Qaeda positions at Tora Bora and Anaconda found by high-tech recon- See Biddle Study from SSI

  • Not quite the new way of war advertised in 2001/2002

  • Importance of training level of local troops- Key to success with high tech US partnership

The Motivators for Insurgency

  • 4 Prime motivators– Most insurgencies inspired by one or two of these:

  • 1- Ideology- Desire for new political system to meet needs

  • 2- Nationalism- Desire for independence of another power

  • 3- Ethnic Nationalism- Desire for independence or autonomy of one’s tribe or ethnic group

  • 4- Religion- Desire to make one’s own religion supreme, suppress others

  • WWII- 1990- Most insurgent movements motivated by ideology and nationalism.

  • 1990-Present- Most insurgent movements motivated by religion and ethnic nationalism. This makes it harder to come to a political settlement or peaceful solution and makes a counterinsurgency strategy more complex

Changing Nature of Organization of Insurgencies

  • WWII- 1990. Most insurgencies followed some variation of a Maoist model with a clear political program, central leadership and long term strategy.

  • 1990 to present. Intifada in Israel/Palestine, insurgency in Iraq, conflict in Afghanistan– Insurgents comprised of a loose network of groups– often diverse – often at odds- often without a clear political program. Advantage for insurgents- difficult for govt. forces to take out the leadership or mount any decisive campaign. Disadvantage- groups do not truly coordinate activity or resources.

  • What we’re dealing with are several insurgent groups and programs. See TX Hammes, The Sling and the Stone (2004)

New US Army Counterinsurgency Manual- FM 3.07. Oct 2004

  • First official US Counterinsurgency doctrine since 1965

  • New tactical lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan–

  • Most of the traditional tactics and strategies still valid (Max Manwaring-- Legitimacy is key)

  • However, new doctrine still looks upon insurgency as a mainly Maoist model– the new models not addressed

  • Still- big step forward for US to address the subject

US Army and USAF (Not Marines) forgot extensive experience in small wars. Photo- US Army in Vigan PI, 1899.

US Experience 1899-2001.

  • Philippines 1899-1902, Caribbean and Central America 1914-1934, Post WWII: Greece 1940s, PI 1946-1953, Vietnam 1961-1973, El Salvador 1981-1992

  • Some sound counterinsurgency doctrine and experience, USMC Small Wars Manual, Adderholt, Lansdale, Manwaring

  • US small wars expertise at odds with US military culture- esp. post Vietnam

Something Old– Importance of simple equipment for 3rd World allies

  • Pentagon preference for expensive and high tech equipment– hard to maintain and operate

  • Need for agreements with allies/ licensing and manufacturing agreements

  • Consider producing updated Mi8/Mi 17s with allies

  • Consider building A-10 as counterinsurgency aircraft with allied nations

  • CMATT in Iraq pushes for simple solutions with eye to cost/training/ maintenance

US-supplied T-28 and advisors in SE Asia circa 1962– cheap and simple Laotian T-28s took out more trucks on Ho Chi Minh Trail than latest US jet fighter bombers– USAF leadership very upset

Example of the success of the cheap and simple weapons in counterinsurgency

CASA 212-- STOL, simple, cheap, effective-- a good light transport for small air forces-- Very useful in peace ops such as Somalia




Cobra Armored Recon Veh.

Range – 500 km

Speed – 115 km/hr, 80 km/hr off road

Lethality – 12.7mm HMG or other

Ballistic Protection – 7.62 NATO API, Arty//IED Frag all round, upgradeable to 12.7mm

Mine Protection –

- protected against 7 kg TNT

detonation under wheel

- 5 kg TNT under center hull

Field Repair – designed to facilitate

field repair

Other- Automotive & suspension is HMMWV, NATO compatible, battle tested in similar terrain against similar threat, supported by regional country, excellent cross country mobility incl. Sandy & rocky terrain.

Cost Estimate: $60K to $100K





Ratel Light Wheeled APC (U)

Range – 860 km

Speed – 105 km/hr, 60 km/hr off road

Lethality – 12.7mm HMG or other

Ballistic Protection –

- all round - 12.7 mm

- add on armor to defeat RPGs

Mine Protection –

- protected against mines

detonation under wheel

Field Repair – designed to facilitate

field repair

Other- designed for 14 days independent opns, excellent cross country mobility incl. Sandy & rocky terrain.

Cost Estimate: $35K to $70K


Some lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq-- High Tech Apache is a great aircraft– but still quite vulnerable to simple weapons Photo: 40mm AA round used against US choppers.

Apache blades shredded by 20 and 40mm fire in Iraq– April 2003. Similar problems in Afghanistan in 2001

Something Old--Importance of HUMINT

  • Human Intel capability ignored and downgraded post-Vietnam thru Cold War thru 1990s

  • Belief that high tech would provide “frictionless battlefield”; Clausewitz’s concept of friction “no longer relevant” (Army 4-star mid-1990s)

  • Emphasis on counting equipment and conventional capability– Not as useful in fighting insurgents

  • Lack of capable HUMINT one of central problems post 9/11

  • Not enough done to build up HUMINT capability post 9-11

  • HUMINT is relatively cheap– but expertise takes time to build– and this goes against Pentagon preference for expensive, high tech hardware solutions– lack of a lobby group for HUMINT

Something Old--Relearning Basic HUMINT Lessons

  • Abu Graibh and torture– Big US blunder– pressure for quick solutions, Lack of understanding of basic counterinsurgency Intel techniques at the heart of the problem

  • Tactical issue-- Torture really doesn’t provide good Intel

  • Classic interrogation techniques still valid– need to have a corps of highly-trained and language-qualified interrogators

  • DOD generally misunderstood the potential for insurgency– and failed to have the appropriate Intel resources available.

Something New– Importance of modern mass media and media techniques in counterinsurgency

  • Television now a major factor in many nations

  • US fails to use polling and mass marketing techniques to monitor public opinion and influence opinion. Little effort in Iraq- minimal budget and equipment for the govt. media

  • Need for locally-run media program with US support

  • Need to apply civilian skills– mass marketing and education program with TV, radio, and print media

  • Program will be expensive and require coordination with State Dept. and other agencies

  • Hearts and minds campaign STILL central to counterinsurgency– need for media campaigncombined with traditional civic action program

New US Doctrine- Reliance on Local and Militia Forces- Backed by High Tech US Support

  • Search for quick, cheap solutions

  • Desire to minimize US manpower requirements

  • Problem- little study of recent experience with militias- problems of Colombia etc. ignored

  • Difficult to control militias

  • Low effectiveness of minimally-trained troops

  • Problem with militia loyalties

  • Difficult to demobilize militias

ICDC BN Plan as of Spring 2004

Old Realities– Need for well trained local forces

  • US policy to train the security leadership AFTER the insurgency– Not a sound approach

  • Need to carefully vet and train the mid and senior defense civilian and military leadership– US and Allied effort still much too small

  • Concentration on training lower ranks and using contractors– US troops might have been better

  • Minimal effort to train mid-level and senior leaders– One of the major problems in Iraq planning

  • Perhaps mediocre Iraqi security performance is due to poor leadership


  • “New Way of War” promised in 2001--Not especially successful

  • Insurgencies STILL last a long time. The Pentagon preference for “rapid, decisive operations” meets reality

  • Wars are STILL expensive. Don’t look for the “cheap war”

  • Counterinsurgency is STILL manpower intensive– No way around this

  • Most of the traditional doctrines still applicable

  • New Factor-- Need for an extensive, expensive and coordinated media campaign

  • Counterinsurgency CAN succeed- One can win in Iraq – but appropriate counterinsurgency equipment and training and intelligence doctrines needed



Iraqi Armed Forces:The Way Ahead

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