Posts Tagged ‘History’

Documents of Note #3

3 May, 2008

The following is the latest in a periodic round-up of reports, papers, monographs, etc likely to be of interest to IRG members and the wider COIN/CT community.


RAND has published Volume 5 in its Counterinsurgency Study series of monographs, which is co-authored by IRG founder John Mackinlay and Alison Al-Baddawy.

Rethinking Counterinsurgency

The May-June edition of the US Army Combined Arms Center’s Military Review includes the following piece by Philip Seib:

The Al-Qaeda Media Machine [PDF]

The Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College has published the following studies:

Precision in the Global War on Terror: Inciting Muslims through the War of Ideas – Dr. Sherifa D. Zuhur [PDF]

Global Climate Change: National Security Implications (ed. Carolyn Pumphrey) [PDF]

The SWJ Magazine has published interim versions of the following papers:

Social Epidemics and the Human Element of Counterinsurgency – CPT Nils French

Iraqi Non-Lethal Contributions to the Counterinsurgency – CPT Justin Gorkowski

The Counterinsurgency Cliff Notes – CPT Craig Coppock

The US Department of State has released the latest in its annual series of terrorism assessments:

Country Reports on Terrorism 2007

The International Crisis Group has released two new reports on Iraq:

Iraq after the Surge I: The New Sunni Landscape

Iraq after the Surge II: The Need for a New Political Strategy

The Combined Arms Research Library has made the following documents available. Original date of publication is provided if the document is not new.

Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958 – David Galula, 1963 (2006 Rand edition with foreword by Bruce Hoffman)

War by Other Means: Building Complete and Balanced Capabilities for Counterinsurgency – RAND

55 Trends Now Shaping the Future of Terrorism – Dr. Marvin Cetron and Owen Davies

Defeating Cross Border Insurgencies – Thorsten Joergensen, 2007

Tactical Handbook for Operations Other Than WarUK Ministry of Defence, 1998

Strategic Assessment of the Mau-Mau Rebellion – Robert Eatman, 2007

Chechen Suicide Bombers – Robert W. Kurz and Charles K. Bartles, 2007

The Evolution of Al Qaeda – Sean Wilson, 2007

Globalization and Asymmetrical Warfare – William Hartman, 2002

Piracy and Maritime Terrorism: A Seamless TransitionJohn Hahn, 2004

Asymmetric Warfare: An Historical Perspective – Frankling Miles, 1999

Why Insurgents Fail: Examining Post-World War II Failed Insurgencies Utilizing the Prerequisites of Successful Insurgencies as a Framework – Frank Zimmerman, 2007

Secrecy News
has made available the following reports from the Congressional Research Service:

Operation Iraqi Freedom: Strategies, Approaches, Results, and Issues for Congress [PDF]

Iraq: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy [PDF]

High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments [PDF]


Could the British Army have fought a successful COIN in 1776?

31 March, 2008

IRG member and KCL PhD student Andrew Exum is raising hackles over at the Guardian’s Comment is Free

At the moment, Americans are reliving their revolutionary era through HBO’s slick new mini-series on founding father John Adams. But this interest in the American Revolution surely opens the door onto an interesting thought experiment: What would have happened had the British army applied contemporary counterinsurgency doctrine against those pesky colonists in the 18th century?

This question is one currently being asked by several smart US army and Marine Corps officers who have taken their experiences fighting insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan and applied them to historical analysis of other American wars. In his paper [PDF] on British counterinsurgency efforts in the American south during the revolution, US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Paul Montanus notes with incredulity that while the British army garrisoned over 15,000 troops to defend New York City, only 8,500 men were left to execute counterinsurgency operations in the south. That meant the British had a troops-to-population ratio of 2:195 – far below what most contemporary military planners would deem necessary to fight an effective counterinsurgency campaign.

I’d not venture a strong opinion on the matter–not my area really. It strikes me, however, as the descendant on one side of United Empire Loyalists (aka ex-American colonists)) who fought against the Revolution and fled to Canada after it, that there was quite a bit of loyalty to the British Empire which was eroded/squandered. Doesn’t this make the troop ratio something of a red herring? Anyway, it’s too bad we lost.

Exum notes that his ancestor Colonel Benjamin Exum fought the British in the mountains of North Carolina which is rather cool. It’s nice to be in the winning side. My Empire Loyalist ancestors, on the other hand, were French Huguenots who fled France to America via a stint in Yorkshire. Twice-refugees, in other words; and intercontinental refugees at that–not bad for the 18th century. Another ancestor, Henry Lapp, fought the Americans in various places in Upper and Lower Canada and the northern states in the War of 1812. He narrowly escaped death in 1813 when they attacked York. He was the only survivor of an artillery battery of 12 men–the rest were killed by an explosion of the cartridge chest hit by an American shell.

War of 1812. Now there’s an interesting bit of historical parallelism, Andrew. (Ps. You lost that one, you know?) Thomas Jefferson is reputed to have said ‘the acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us the experience for the attack on Halifax, the next and final expulsion of England from the American continent.’ Canadian nationalism (such as it is) has strong roots in the idea that they showed in 1812 that they could and would fight for their country against American aggression and hubris. We can be quite chippy about it actually. Evidence: this hagiographical site on General Sir Isaac Brock (‘Canada’s Originial War Hero’) where you can find, believe it or not, a Brock action figure(!). Brits hardly remember the War of 1812 which might have something to do with Andrew Jackson and New Orleans (mutter, mutter) but for Canadians it’s a big deal because we kicked American ass and you lost. Did I just drop all scholarly pretense, use vulgarity, and bold at that? You see what I mean? Chippiness. And I haven’t lived in Canada for over a decade. Sadly, speaking of chips, we failed to defend this mighty icon of Canadiana against American incursion some centuries later. But I digress…

Ah well, the Anglosphere’s a big happy family now.