Gangs and Guerrillas

The Fall issue of The Culture and Conflict Review is now available, and I wanted to highlight one specific article that culminates several years of study and collaboration between local police forces and military officers comparing and contrasting domestic gangs/drug issues in Salinas, CA with modern counterinsurgency efforts.

Domestic Insights: Gangs and Guerrillas: Ideas from Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism,

Edited by Michael Freeman and Hy Rothstein

Can counter insurgency strategies be used to fight urban gangs? This question was discussed
in a conversation between the Mayor of Salinas, the Provost of the Naval Postgraduate
School and Representative Sam Farr. It became apparent during that discussion that there
were many similarities between insurgent behavior and gang behavior—similarities that
would make a more rigorous analysis worthwhile.

These similarities are readily apparent when reading General Petraeus’s counterinsurgency
guidance for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan (see Appendix I). In his list of twentyfour
“rules,” many of them resonate, but especially the following: secure and serve the
population; live among the people; help confront the culture of impunity; hold what we
secure; foster lasting solutions; consult and build relationships, but not just with those who
seek us out; walk; act as one team; be first with the truth; fight the information war aggressively;
manage expectations; and live our values. Ultimately, these guidelines intend to reach
the same end state as urban policing does: a safe and secure population.

With this theme in mind, the faculty of the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval
Postgraduate School, experts in counterinsurgency operations, were enlisted to address
these similarities and to share their theories, models, and ideas from their own disciplines of
political science, sociology, anthropology, international relations, and more. This collection
of short papers is the result.

The goal of this project is to share the ideas developed to fight insurgents and terrorists and
see if they can be adapted or modified to help the people of Salinas think about their city’s
problem with gangs in an innovative way. Consequently, each chapter is intentionally left
short, as they are intended to stimulate thought more than fully explain any one model or
theory. The direct application of each chapter’s concept is left to the reader.

While this project was put together for Salinas’s use, the ideas developed in these short
papers will be useful not only for the city of Salinas but also for other cities combating gang
violence.

 

Contributors

John Arquilla, Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Leo Blanken, Assistant Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Doug Borer, Associate Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Dorothy Denning, Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Sean Everton, Assistant Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Michael Freeman, Assistant Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Brian Greenshields, Senior Lecturer, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Heather Gregg, Assistant Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Rebecca Lorentz, Research Associate, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Gordon McCormick, Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Matthew Peterson, Lieutenant Commander, US Navy, Masters Student in the Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Hy Rothstein, Senior Lecturer, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Kalev Sepp, Senior Lecturer, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Anna Simons, Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
David Tucker, Associate Professor, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School
Steve Twing, Professor, Department of Political Science, Frostburg State University
Greg Wilson, Colonel, US Army, Special Operations Forces Chair, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School

 

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Comments

Hitman, I don't think that armed forces are inherently incapable of acting effectively against these sorts of threats. Rather, the approaches to these problems fall outside the conventional range of use of force and tactics and so there is an appearance of ineptitude.

On the other hand, I'm not entirely certain that the law enforcement and justice system model fully deals with the gang problems either. I think that these tend to ignore the larger cultural, social, and political issues involved, which leads to cutting weeds rather than dealing with the roots.

It is apparent that the US Military is not capable of handling an insurgency. The Law Enforcement community, is the one who handles the criminal element, organized narcotics gangs/ organized crime. The LE community knows how to deter, disrupt and dismantle these gangs and to bring them to prosecution. This is a law enforcement function. The military doesn't have the knowledge, skills and ability to do so.

They(military)were not able to do it in Iraq or Afghanistan. Now, we are going to Africa, and do you think the military has a clue? The answer is no.

The author was and Embedded Police Mentor
as well as a Law Enforcement Professional.
He did two tours in Afghanistan under Special Operations Task Force South.
2010-2012.