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29 August 2010

10 Commands of the Counterinsurgent

The following can be regarded as the most relevant rules, suggestions or advice to the counterinsurgent based on criticism of current conflicts and historical lessons learned:
  1. Clear and feasible Strategy and well defined End State are the must.[1] Those are to be based on valid assumptions and true understanding of local situation.[2]
  2. Focus on people not insurgents. Protect the people, win them to your side and insurgents loose their support base.[3] You need to offer better future than opposing side does.[4]
  3. Fight the insurgents in your terms. Push them to isolated area and destroy there. Avoid fighting in populated areas. Avoid collateral damage and compensate immediately if that has happened.[5]
  4. Set up a local security forces. Let the locals fight for their future and provide your support to them. Advise and train them, make them responsible.[6]
  5. Reinforce the local economy by long lasting projects. Enduring jobs of young males prevents them to support insurgents. Create hope for better future.[7] Put them sweat for their success and create ownership then they are ready to die to defend it.[8]
  6. Empower native officials who have demonstrated to willingness to do the right thing. Teach them values but be careful with interfering their culture and religion.[9]
  7. Stay in warm and close proximity with people and deny the insurgents proximity. Spread out your forces but keep the reinforcements in high readiness to support them.[10]
  8. Do not project threat or superiority to local population. They need to see human in you not armored alien. Do not enforce your values but work via patience and indirect influence. Trust takes long time to build.[11]
  9. Create intelligence networks to find insurgents and their supporters. Once identified let them know that you know and offer them to change the side. Capture of kill is the last resort to avoid revenges of families and tribes.[12]
  10. Challenge the conventional mindset and see the picture via local population eyes. [13] To win their hearts and minds you need to understand what their hearts and minds desire!



[1] John Kerry, “Testing Afghanistan Assumptions. The lesson of Vietnam is don't commit troops without a clear strategy”, The Wall Street Journal, 2009, at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471504574438660617984826.html, accessed on 13 Jun 2010.
[2] Montgomery McFate, “The Military Utility of Understanding Adversary Culture”, pp. 43, 44, Joint Forces Quarterly, No. 38 Summer 2005, pp. 42-48, at http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/jfq_pubs/1038.pdf, accessed on 21 Dec 2009. 
[3] ISAF Commander’s Counterinsurgency Guidance 2009, at http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/official_texts/counterinsurgency_guidance.pdf, pp. 3-4, accessed on 13 Jun 2010.
[4] Steven Metz, Rethinking Insurgency, 2007, pp. 45, 46, at http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB790.pdf, accessed on 22 Dec 2009.
[5] ISAF Commander’s Counterinsurgency Guidance 2009, at http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/official_texts/counterinsurgency_guidance.pdf, p. 4, accessed on 13 Jun 2010.
[6] Ibid, pp. 5-6.
[7] Ted R. Gurr, “Terrorism in Democracies: When It Occurs, Why It Fails”, in Kegly, Charles W. Jr., eds. The New Global Terrorism. Characteristics, Causes, Controls (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. 2003), pp. 202-215.
[8] ISAF Commander’s Counterinsurgency Guidance 2009, at http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/official_texts/counterinsurgency_guidance.pdf, p. 5, accessed on 13 Jun 2010.
[9] Ibid, p. 6.
[10] Kilcullen, David, The Accidental Guerrilla. Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One (Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 286.
[11] ISAF Commander’s Counterinsurgency Guidance 2009, at http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/official_texts/counterinsurgency_guidance.pdf, p. 5, accessed on 13 Jun 2010.
[12] Kilcullen, David, The Accidental Guerrilla. Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One (Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 13.
[13] ISAF Commander’s Counterinsurgency Guidance 2009, at http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/official_texts/counterinsurgency_guidance.pdf, p. 7, accessed on 13 Jun 2010.