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Evaluating Insurgency External Support Through the French-Algerian War, Vietnam War, and Islamic State

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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The purpose of this thesis is to explore the role of external support for insurgencies, with particular emphasis on the Islamic State IS. The research evaluates such support during the FrenchAlgerian War, the Vietnam War, and the current war with IS utilizing a model from a 2001 RAND book titled Trends in Outside Support for Insurgent Movements. The book identifies the following external support elements safe haven and transit, financial resources, political support, propaganda, and direct military support. As this analysis will show, indirect military support unintentional and or unknowing is just as relevant today as direct military support. This thesis identifies patterns and vulnerabilities of external support for IS and assesses the current relevance of the 2001 model outlined in the RAND book. Analysis of three case studies reveals continuity among all three in patterns and areas of vulnerability regarding safe haven and transit, financial resources, and propaganda political and direct military support appear to be less relevant to IS than to prior insurgencies. The current information era, dispersed support, the role of natural resources, and non-state actors have changed the profile of external support for insurgencies today. This thesis recommends improving the condition of fragile states to prevent safe havens for IS, reclaiming territory from IS, and implementing UN sanctions to cease IS financial support. Political pressure and the elimination of non-state support could also deter states from directly or indirectly supporting IS. Further, IS propaganda could be diminished through a global antipropaganda campaign. Finally, strengthening alliances could prevent state and non-state actors from covertly or indirectly providing military support to IS.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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