MYTHS AND REALITIES OF MINIMUM FORCE IN BRITISH COUNTERINSURGENCY DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE
Boer, Christopher B.
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Counterinsurgency scholars and notable counterinsurgents often credit minimum force doctrine, among other factors, for British success in Malaya, Kenya, and Cyprus. Minimum Force has become a prescriptive element for counterinsurgency warfare as a result, often with the understanding that gaining and retaining the populations hearts and minds is crucial to achieving victory. Also, minimum force proponents claim excessive force is anathema to that goal, insofar as it alienates the population and delegitimizes the governments efforts. Minimum force, however, was never a central component of British counterinsurgencies during the decolonialization era following World War II, and its continued inclusion among counterinsurgency formulas is unwarranted based on British experiences. The British relied primarily on coercion, reprisals, exemplary force, and forced relocationstactics learned during the Irish War of Independence (19191921) and subsequent limited wars to starve the insurgents of the populations support.
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