How to defeat insurgencies: searching for a counter-insurgency strategy
Bottiglieri, Michael A.
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Most people say that a hearts and minds campaign is the best strategy for defeating an insurgency. But there may be no one best solution applicable to countering all insurgencies. The opportunities and constraints, which affect both the insurgent and state, dictate the best strategy. I will test this hypothesis against the most difficult form of insurgency. Two Maoist insurgencies will be analyzed to determine the effect of the state's strategy on the insurgent. Conclusions will then be drawn about the relevance of pursuing a universal counter-insurgency strategy. While countering the Shining Path insurgency in Peru, the state employed three different strategies. In the end, the state recognized that the insurgency was elitist based and launched a successful counter- leadership targeting campaign to defeat the insurgency. While countering the Malayan Communist Party insurgency in Malaya, the state employed two different strategies. In the end, the state recognized that the insurgency could be limited to the ethnic Chinese community and adopted a successful campaign to separate the insurgents from the population. Analysis of each case study clearly demonstrates the success of two different strategies against similar insurgent organizations. In Peru the insurgency was defeated thanks to an inside-out approach, while in Malaya the insurgency was defeated form the outside-in. The strategy used in Peru would not have been successful in Malaya and the same can be said of the Malayan strategy in Peru. However, the cases demonstrate the need to understand general counter-insurgency principles before applying case specific strategies. Based on these observations it can be concluded that, just as the principles of war guide military operations, there are similar principles which bring success in counter- insurgency operations, with the important caveat that every case must be treated as unique.
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