David Galula Shortly before retiring he wrote Counterinsurgency Warfare: In addition, I have read many other books on this subject over the last couple of decades. There is also much in it to make me think how massive a political failure the Iraq war — and to a good extent, the war in Afghanistan as well — represents. While some parts of the book are obviously dated, the core of the theory is still applicable today, and can be witnessed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as several nations in Africa. Establish contact with the population, control its movements in order to cut off its links with the guerillas. Lists with This Book.
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Find out about our effort to help us all think through what we can do to help. Though many of its empirical examples are dated, its insights remain hauntingly relevant. It is still considered by many to be the "Bible" of counterinsurgency warfare. In it, Galula, a French military officer with experience in China, Greece, Southeast Asia, and Algeria, seeks to provide a "compass" for the counterinsurgent, much as Mao did for the revolutionary.
This "compass" is comprised of the laws and principals of counterinsurgency warfare, and corresponding strategy and tactics. While a revolution is a sudden and "accidental" mass movement and a plot or coup is an intentional effort to overthrow the top leadership in a swift action, an insurgency is intentional, but not swift.
It is a protracted struggle conducted methodically in order to attain intermediary goals with an eventual aim of overthrowing the existing power structure. While the book is primarily concerned with insurgency, it often refers to both revolutions and plots as well.
A key characteristic of all three types of revolutionary warfare is their inherent asymmetry. Counterinsurgents hold a virtual monopoly on tangible assets, such as material resources and legitimate power. On the other hand, insurgents lack power, but have the advantage regarding intangible assets such as ideology and a general lack of responsibility. While counterinsurgents are powerful, they are obliged to uphold law and order, which limits their potential action.
On the other hand, insurgents lack power, but they are much more free to violate both their promises and social norms.
Insurgents also decide when and where the conflict will begin, since they become insurgents through their own contentious actions. Indeed, a counterinsurgency exists only in reaction to an insurgency. The "Laws" According to Galula, there are four "laws" of counterinsurgency. The first law is that the population is paramount.
That is, the support of the people is the primary objective of a counterinsurgency campaign. Without the support of the population, it is impossible to root out all the insurgents and stop further recruitment. Such support is most readily obtained from an active minority.
Those willing to actively support a counterinsurgency operation should be supported in their efforts to rally the relatively neutral majority and neutralize the hostile minority. Having attained the support of the population it is imperative to remember that this support is conditional.
What you do matters, and support can be lost if your actions are unfavorable to the population. The fourth and final law of counterinsurgency regards the "intensity of effort and vastness of means. Rather, action should be taken in select areas, and resources moved as needed. Thus, according to the laws of counterinsurgency, it is important to continuously make efforts at gaining and maintaining the support of the populace in distinct areas by leveraging an active minority.
When this is the case, the essential problem for the counterinsurgency is that the "actual danger will always appear to the nation as out of proportion to the demands made by an adequate response" p 4. That is, the response necessary to eliminate the insurgency is likely to be seen as excessive by the general population. This leaves the counterinsurgents with four options which are not mutually exclusive : They can act directly on the insurgent leaders, they can act indirectly on the conditions that are propitious to an insurgency, they can infiltrate the insurgent movement, or they can reinforce their own "Political Machine".
Acting directly on insurgent leaders arresting them, or limiting their actions is difficult in democracies and often backfires. A successful insurgency requires a viable cause to rally support. For example, insurgent farmers demanding land reform can be stripped of their cause when the state provides land reform. In this case, indirect action can be taken to ensure that the judicial, police, and military institutions are strong thus discouraging insurgent action.
The infiltration of an insurgency seeks to destroy it from within by turning it against itself. Though potentially quite effective, such action can backfire and anger the general population.
While important in "cold" insurgencies, this is the primary activity of counterinsurgents in "hot" insurgencies. In some ways, this aids a counterinsurgency because the "moral fog" surrounding the insurgents dissipates and the counterinsurgency is free to act more decisively. But decisive action does not necessarily mean military action.
Indeed ,as Galula put it, "Essential though it is, the military action is secondary to the political one, its primary purpose being to afford the political power enough freedom to work safely with the population.
His strategy is divided into eight steps: Concentrate enough armed forces to destroy or to expel the main body of armed insurgents. Establish contact with the population and control its movements in order to cut off its links with the guerillas Destroy the local insurgent political organizations Set up, by means of elections, new provisional local authorities.
Test these authorities by assigning them various concrete tasks. Replace the softs and the incompetents, give full support of the active leaders. Organize self-defense units. Group and educate the leaders in a national political movement. Win over or suppress the last insurgent remnants. Each of the steps is to be undertaken in a specific area consistent with the fourth law and then repeated in other areas as necessary. Though Galula presents this eight-step process as a guide to hot counterinsurgency operations, he is quick to point out, "Like every similar concept, this one may be sound in theory but dangerous when applied rigidly to a specific case.
Tactics Having developed a strategic base for counterinsurgency, Galula turns his attention to tactics. While he acknowledges the importance of conventional military tactics in counterinsurgency, he focuses primarily on ways to build an effective "political machine" capable of garnering the support of the people.
At the heart of this political machine is the development of a counterinsurgent cause to compete with the insurgent cause. Such programs are often based on reason, and will be relatively ineffective in the early stages of an insurgency when "passion is the prime mover," but as the conflict progresses and the pragmatic implications of the war become the "the prime mover," rational programs which improve the lives of the populace will become highly persuasive.
The development of these programs requires a coordination of efforts on the part of the counterinsurgency. According to Galula, this coordination can be achieved through committees and integrated military-civilian hierarchies but, "more than anything else, a doctrine appears to be the practical answer to the problem of how to channel efforts in a single direction" p Developing an effective doctrine requires the knowledge of what the population really wants. To do so, it is necessary to keep a single static or holding force in place.
This ensures that soldiers do not have to constantly relearn the cultural nuances of a local area. Further, the counterinsurgency must learn and adapt as it goes along. As such, the first area should be viewed as a test area in which policy is adapted to the reaction of the population.
Lessons learned should then be rapidly applied to subsequent areas. Conclusion While insurgencies often fail on their own accord, "Relying on luck An essential aspect of this "compass" is the realization that public support for the state should be the primary goal of counterinsurgency and that this makes counterinsurgency operations above all, political operations. In this book, Galula provides the basic strategy and tactics necessary to successfully defeat insurgencies through the development of a "political machine" capable of garnering public support.
However, he cautions that the lessons of this book do not guarantee success and that, "As long as the revolutionary situation exists, even in a dormant form, as long as the problem that gave rise to the insurgency has not been eliminated, the danger persists" p More from.
Summary of "Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice"