Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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Insurgency has been the most prevalent form of armed conflict since at least 1949. Despite that fact, following the Vietnam War and through the balance of the Cold War, the U.S. military establishment turned its back on insurgency, refusing to consider operations against insurgents as anything other than a lesser-included case for forces structured for and prepared to fight two major theater wars. In the post-911 world, however, insurgency has rocketed back into prominence. As counterterrorism expert William Rosenau notes, insurgency and counterinsurgency . . . have enjoyed a level of military, academic, and journalistic notice unseen since the mid-1960s. Countering insurgents, or supporting the efforts of allies and partners as they do so, is the primary focus of ongoing operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. When a country becomes host to an insurgency, what counterinsurgency COIN approaches give a government the best chance of prevailing Contemporary discourse on the subject is voluminous and often contentious. A variety of different approaches and areas of emphasis are advocated, but such advocacy is based on relatively limited evidence. Advice for the counterinsurgent tends to be based on common sense, a general sense of history, or but one or two detailed historical cases. A broad base of evidentiary support for advocated approaches is lacking. This monograph and its companion, Victory Has a Thousand Fathers Detailed Counterinsurgency Case Studies, seek to alleviate that deficit with thorough analyses based on a firm foundation of historical data. This is clearly an area that can benefit from extensive data collection, rigorous analysis, and empirical testing.
- Unconventional Warfare