Article

Counterinsurgency in the Modern World

Scott Gates and Kaushik Roy

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online February 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0075
Counterinsurgency in the Modern World

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Together, terrorism and guerrilla warfare for the most part constitute insurgencies. While terrorism is mainly urban, guerrilla warfare is primarily rural. Insurgency is the weapon of the weak and is mainly resorted to by nonstate actors. Attempts by the polity to crush insurgencies are known as counterinsurgency (COIN). If COIN fails, then the insurgents might develop conventional forces to capture state power. This constitutes the third and final stage of Maoist insurgency. COIN is known by a variety of names. In the late 19th century, it was categorized as “small war.” In the 1970s, a British officer called it low-intensity operations, and the Americans termed it low intensity conflict (LIC). Some call it irregular warfare. In the 1990s, Western military analysts termed this war as operations other than war (OOTW). The latter includes both military and nonmilitary means. This essay focuses on the theory and praxis of COIN. Temporally the essay covers the 19th and 20th centuries and the first decade of the 21st century. The rise of the modern industrial state gave rise to modern COIN. Imperialism, decolonization, and the Cold War generated changes in the character of COIN. The geographical net is cast wide, that is, around four regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Special focus is given to regions that have generated a very high number of insurgencies. How the COIN campaigns differ in the various regions is also brought under our scanner. An attempt is made to compare and contrast the varying approaches of the great powers’ COIN policies. The debate regarding the philosophy of minimum force in British COIN is touched upon. Further, it is contrasted with the use of brute force by the Americans in dealing with the insurgents as well as with their evolving approach to COIN. In order to understand the evolution of COIN, some understanding of the insurgencies is also necessary. Hence at times this essay focuses on the rebels and their ideologies and activities.

Article.  11048 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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