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Counterinsurgency Strategies for Effective Conflict Termination: U.S. Strategies in El Salvador

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Master's thesis

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This study examines problems which the United States faces in its support of efforts by governments in less-developed countries LDCs to defeat revolutionary insurgents. The US has in the past been drawn into supporting conflicts for a protracted period, at increasing political, economic, and military cost, without receiving apparent benefit nor approaching a favorable end to the conflict. This thesis attempts to answer the questions of why the US encounters problems in its support of counterinsurgency efforts and why it has difficulty in effectively terminating this type of low-intensity conflict LIC. This study makes the assumption that to achieve the long-term goals of stability, democracy, reduced conflict and reduced dependence on US assistance, the best outcome for the US in most cases of insurgency is to obtain a negotiated settlement to end the conflict. After producing a list of factors necessary to produce a negotiated settlement to terminate an insurgency, the study examines the various COIN counter-insurgency strategies used in El Salvador to see how they affected the factors indicating progress toward achieving a settlement. The study concludes that while the US has improved in its COIN strategies by developing a combined strategy which emphasizes other than military efforts, limiting its direct military involvement, and increasing the use of small-unit tactics and other appropriate LIC methods there are problems within the US Military and political organizations which inhibit the US ability to achieve effective termination of the insurgency and of its support efforts.

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  • Unconventional Warfare

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