Counterinsurgency: A Guide for Policy-Makers

In today's Washington Independent Spencer Ackerman provides an update on the US Department of State's Counterinsurgency: A Guide for Policy-Makers (October 2007 version).

... "Counterinsurgency: A Guide for Policy-Makers" takes the lessons learned by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan and elevates them to the highest levels of national strategy. Counterinsurgency is defined in the text as "the politico-military techniques developed to neutralize... armed rebellion against constituted authority." The handbook is due to be published in November or December. A copy of its most recent draft was obtained by The Washington Independent.

The handbook seeks to provide a framework for considering whether Washington should intervene in foreign countries' counterinsurgency operations, raising difficult questions about whether such nations deserve US support; under what conditions that support should occur, and whether success is possible at acceptable cost. No systematic approach to strategic-level questions in counterinsurgency currently exists for senior US government officials...

The handbook instructs policy-makers about the necessity of using all elements of national power -- not just military force, but also diplomacy, development aid, the rule of law, academic disciplines and other specialties often considered peripheral to warfighting -- to triumph in counterinsurgency. Victory, as well, is defined as support for a foreign nation's ability to successfully govern, rather than a decisive US military effort...

Unlike the 2006 Army/Marine Corps counterinsurgency field manual. written principally by Petraeus and Marine Gen. James Mattis, this new handbook is not intended to be a guide for counterinsurgency practitioners, but rather to give Cabinet-level officials and their staffs a framework for viewing questions of intervention in combatting insurgencies...

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