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Integrating Civilian and Military Activities

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Journal article

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Americans have a predilection for neat categories of activity and clear divisions of labor. One manifestation of this tendency is emphasis on a clear division between military and political realms and a related belief in a clean separation of military and civilian activities. But war is a complicated and messy human phenomenon that defies easy categorization. The fundamentally political core of war admits to few natural limits. The stakes of war are usually profound, and therefore the effective remedies can be no less intense. The deliberately contested allegiance of the local population pulls all aspects of societal functioning into the ambit of a counterinsurgency. Denying success to insurgents demands comprehensive solutions that cut across the political, economic, and cultural elements of the afflicted society. In stable, mature social systems, efficient arrangements develop to meet agreed needs. Insurgents use violence to deliberately target these neat and optimized arrangements to tear apart the sinews of society. They often seek to undermine social delivery mechanisms. This behavior is why it is not sufficient albeit still necessary for counterinsurgents to simply counter the violence of insurgents they also strive to defeat the population-centered insurgent strategy. The unequal utility of violence to affect societal frameworks, which are much easier to destroy than to create, requires counterinsurgents to take an expansive approach to the instruments of conflict. Counterinsurgents work to sustain, rebuild, or even strengthen societal structures in the midst of violence. This program of work requires both civilian and military efforts directed toward a comprehensive solution.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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