Beyond Population Engagement: Understanding Counterinsurgency
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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The US military has made considerable progress in developing counterinsurgency COIN strategy and doctrine, including the publication of Army Field Manual 3-24 and the militarys successes in working with the population to stem the insurgency in Iraq. The short-term goals of COIN are now fairly well understood engage the population and win their support. Whichever side wins the support of the population-either the host nation and US forces that support it or the insurgentswins the battle. The battle is not the war, however. The long-term goal of a counterinsurgency campaign requires the creation of a functioning state, a government that can stand on its own, provide for its citizens, and promote regional and international stability this achievement is victory in a counterinsurgency. Transitioning from the short-term success of population engagement to long-term viability of the host nation is far more difficult and less understood. It is important for the military to understand the long-term goals of counterinsurgency in order to take the appropriate measures in the nearterm that support the objective of creating a functional state. To that end, this article outlines three analytical stages to achieve victory in COIN population engagement, stability operations, and the creation of a functioning state. It contends that actions taken in the early stages of COIN should always keep in perspective the long-term goal of creating a viable state. Without this foresight, actions taken in the short-term may undermine the stability of the state and result in defeat.
- Unconventional Warfare