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Tactics in Counterinsurgency

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Interim field manual

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This manual gives the US Army a common language, concept, and purpose to fight and achieve success in a counterinsurgency. COIN is a complex subset of warfare that encompasses all military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat an insurgency at the company, battalion, and brigade levels. To do this, the manual merges traditional approaches to COIN with the realities of the current operational environment. The US Army thinking and doctrine on COIN tactics since the end of World War II have focused on the conduct of counterguerrilla operations in the later stages of insurgency. The Army has seen itself as defeating guerrilla forces-usually communist forces-rather than defeating an entire insurgency. It saw success as something it could achieve by using the force of arms directly against guerrilla forces. This doctrine of COIN began to take shape shortly after World War II in manuals such as FM 31-20, Operations against Guerrilla Forces 1951 and later in FM 31-15, Operations against Irregular Forces 1961. The Army refined its counterinsurgency doctrine during Vietnam in FM 31-22, US Counterinsurgency Force, FM 31-16, Counterguerrilla Operations both published in 1963 and in FM 31-23, Stability and Support Operations 1972. After Vietnam, the Army split COIN doctrine off from conventional high intensity operations in FM 100-20, Military Operations in Low Intensity Conflict 1990 in which the light forces owned counterinsurgency, and FM 90-8, Counterguerrilla Operations 1986, where the focus remained on defeating the guerrilla force. This manual is the historical successor to FM 90-8. In addition, parts of FM 100-20 have been integrated into this FM, As have the Armys concept of full-spectrum operations and all elements of COIN operations. At its heart, a counterinsurgency is an armed struggle for the support of the population.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Unconventional Warfare

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