AN AMERICAN INSURGENCY
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Detailed analyses of the cases, supplemented by data on 30 previously conducted insurgency case studies and thus covering all 71 historical insurgencies worldwide since World War II , can be found in the companion volume, Paths to Victory: Lessons from Modern Insurgencies. Collectively, the 71 cases span a vast geographic range South America, Africa, the Balkans, Central Asia, and the Far East and include examples of governments that attempted to fight the tide of history — that is, to quell an anticolonial rebellion or uprisings against apartheid.
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The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors. Research Questions Which counterinsurgency COIN practices or combinations of practices offer the most promise for a government win against an insurgency?
What factors can help reduce the duration of an insurgency? What factors tend to extend insurgencies? What factors contribute to a more durable postconflict peace? If so, which COIN practices are most effective for these external forces?
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Of them, 17 received strong support from the historical evidence. In the presented scenario, the insurgents surrender every single advantage they have. They attempt to hold territory, losing the advantages of mobility, surprise, initiative, and unpredictability. Because they are operating openly and in a defined area, they have lost the advantage of camouflage.
The battle lines established by the insurgents themselves at the checkpoints negate the benefits of civilian sympathy. They have a unified command structure that reduces unpredictability. They then mount offensive operations by surprise to take down the checkpoints. Towards the end of the campaign, the military seizes power and radio stations and so on. It then begins mopping up operations once the civilians of Darlington have fled. When faced with the realities of a modern insurgency, this response is completely fictional.
Because the insurgency would operate in a loosely defined area, it would be the US military setting up checkpoints as in Iraq that would be ambushed, not the insurgents. Wise insurgents would use mobile communications to spread their message, not a static radio station. The civilians that conveniently remove themselves from the battlefield in the scenario will be in the line of fire during an insurgency because there is no front line.
There is nowhere to evacuate to. The academics responsible for this scenario specifically created a simple set of conditions that allowed them to explore the logistical aspects of the doctrine on US soil, without considering the real world applications. The US counterinsurgency doctrine is fundamentally flawed. Even when practiced in a foreign country, away from the intense criticism of the US media and populace, it failed to pacify Iraq or Afghanistan.
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In the US, the doctrine is worthless. In the joint publication on counterinsurgency doctrine used by all branches, even before the table of contents, it spells out the expected failure. On page iii it states:. While the above scenario makes for a fun read, current US doctrine is to meet the demands of domestic insurgents, while protecting as much of its credibility as possible. The following day no Huk guerrillas were found within miles of the area.
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With the Huks trying hard to recruit manpower, Lansdale arranged for a large number of volunteer agents to infiltrate Huk units. Many of them not only provided critical intelligence to the army but rose rapidly in the guerrilla command structure. Aware that many of their men might well be government agents, many Huk irregulars turned themselves in. Magsaysay began exerting tight discipline over both the army and government. Interrogation techniques were made more civilized, and soldiers went into local barrios armed with food, clothing and medical supplies.
Magsaysay was beating the enemy on his own terms, offering hope for a better future and eliminating the source of grievances against the government. He also came to realize that local armies recruited from within the population provided the best antiguerrilla personnel.
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The fact that Americans were not involved as ground troops in fact helped the cause immeasurably. As a Philippine lieutenant colonel wrote at the time:. Foreign troops are certain to be less welcome among the people than are the regular armed forces of their own government.
Local populations will shelter their own people against operations of foreign troops, even though those they shelter may be outlaws. For this reason, native troops would be more effective than foreign forces in operations against native communist conspirators. It would be rare, indeed, if the use of foreign troops would not in itself doom to failure an anti-guerrilla campaign.
Gradually the civilian populace was won over and Huk support eroded. The institution of a system of rewards for information about suspected Huks helped turn the insurgents to the defensive. The government instituted land reform, and a generous amnesty program convinced thousands of Huks to abandon the war. The politicians were mastering counterinsurgency in areas where soldiers never dreamed of going. The November elections were widely seen as fair and free, with Philippine troops guarding public meetings to prevent Huk coercion and high school students and ROTC cadets guarding polling places.
In a turnout of more than 4 million where 5 million were registered , the army transferred and guarded ballot boxes in full view of the public as well as the American press and observers. The result was a definitive victory for democracy and a crushing defeat for the Huk insurrection. The ruse succeeded beyond imagination; within days the entire Huk apparatus was defiantly urging a boycott on voters. As related by Lansdale himself, this psywar deception felled the Huk movement for good:. Then came election day and its shockers for their side: the huge turnout of voters and the clear evidence of honest ballots.
The government forces, the press, and the citizen volunteers…publicly called to the attention of the Huks and their sympathizers how wrong had been their predictions about the election. Ballots, not bullets, were what counted! If the Huk leaders could be so wrong this time, then in how many other things had they been wrong all along?
Why should anyone follow them anymore? The Huk rank and file starting echoing these sentiments, and Huk morale skidded. Groups of Huks began to come into army camps, voluntarily surrendering and commenting bitterly that they had been misled by their leaders. Well, it was true enough.
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They had. In retrospect, the Huk insurgency in the Philippines was a true popular rebellion that had originated during the war to harass the Japanese occupation.
Magsaysay and his U.