Re-Inventing Counterinsurgency Doctrine: Why the United States Failed in Iraq and Afghanistan
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV NORFOLK VA NORFOLK United States
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Violence and destruction are inherent in the nature of war. The recent pervasive U.S. reliance on a counterinsurgency COIN doctrine which focuses on civilian and military efforts aimed at addressing the root causes of insurgency, by concentrating on population centric grievances and incentivizing Host Nation governments to undertake reforms addressing these grievances rather than the annihilation of an enemy insurgents, has proved to be problematic in winning decisive victories. Globalization and the interconnectedness of global economies created an environment where state boundaries are dissolving, people are identifying themselves along different identity lines, and the conflicts coming out of these identity politics are less conventional, state-on-state conflicts. Instead, states will see more unconventional conflict characterized by violent actions directed at not only challenging the legitimacy of the states within which they exist but challenging borders, neighboring states, and the very populations within which they reside. This type of conflict, regardless of how it is characterized, cannot be effectively controlled using conventional methods. Current U.S. doctrine does not adequately address an effective and decisive way to conduct these operations. Lessons can be learned, distilled, and put into practice by analyzing what was done correctly and what was done incorrectly in previous insurgencies, like Malaya, Iraq, and Afghanistan.