Accession Number:

ADA464211

Title:

Heads We Win: The Cognitive Side of Counterinsurgency (COIN)

Descriptive Note:

Occasional paper

Corporate Author:

RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2007-01-01

Pagination or Media Count:

74.0

Abstract:

This paper documents an effort to specify requirements for stronger cognition -- comprehension, reasoning, and decision making -- in 21st-century counterinsurgency COIN. Unlike information technology e.g., sensors, chat rooms, displays, cognition is what occurs between the ears after receiving information. It is as crucial to COIN as physical capabilities, organizational structures, and territorial control. Greater attention to cognitive capabilities is dictated by the rise and persistence of a new class of insurgency that combines utopian aims, intense motivation, global connectivity and mobility, extreme violence, and constant adaptation. The foremost example of this is the Islamist-Sunni-Salafist jihad, which aims to overthrow what its adherents see as a corrupt nation-state order in the Muslim world, devised by the West to dominate Islam. Like classical insurgency, the jihad vies for the support of a contested population -- in this case, alienated Muslims in both Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority states. Jihad not only aids but also infects local insurgencies with anti-Western venom, religious extremism, and suicide terrorism, making them more vicious and intractable. As we know from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Levant, such hybrid global-local insurgencies are complex, unstable, and harder to comprehend than purely national insurgencies. The U.S. response to this pattern of insurgency has stressed new bureaucratic layers that seem to have improved neither analysis nor decisionmaking increased investment in military platforms, which are of marginal utility against a diffuse and elusive insurgency and the use of force, which may validate the jihadist argument, producing more jihadis and inspiring new martyrs. Investment in cognitive capabilities should encompass personnel policy recruitment, advancement, retention training and education research and analysis command-and-control transformation and other measures of potential and enduring value.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE