Small Wars Journal

Tactics in Counterinsurgency

FM 3-24.2, Tactics in Counterinsurgency was released on 21 April and is available here at Small Wars Journal.

This field manual establishes doctrine (fundamental principles) for tactical counterinsurgency (COIN) operations at the company, battalion, and brigade level. It is based on lessons learned from historic counterinsurgencies and current operations. This manual continues the efforts of FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, in combining the historic approaches to COIN with the realities of today's operational environment (OE)—an environment modified by a population explosion, urbanization, globalization, technology, the spread of religious fundamentalism, resource demand, climate change and natural disasters, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This manual is generic in its geographic focus and should be used with other doctrinal sources.


Outlaw 7 (not verified)

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 1:23pm

Can it be that this FM is already outdated by the distinct lack of a discussion around the growing body of an insurgency theory referred to as "open source warfare" (OSW) which some have already indicated may in fact be the 4G/5G warfare of the 21st Century?

The theory of OSW has been proven by the recently detailed research results released in Dec 2009 Nature magazine "Ecology of Human Warfare" (and peer reviewed)--the authors by the way had not even heard of OSW and were mildy surprised to see their research actually prove the theory.

So if in fact we now know how an insurgency grows, communicates, plans their attacks,understand the frequency of attacks, understand their internal dynamics, understand how rumors affect the cells and individuals then why is it not being discussed in far more depth?

The FM does nothing to assist in the following areas:
1. Ground-level decision support:
We are able to use our statistical and theoretical models to predict the size and temporal distribution of attacks within a conflict. From this we can predict the likelihood of an attack occurring in a particular region or neighborhood during a specific time window.

2. Understanding the insurgent ecosystem:
Policy makers can use these findings to more fully understand the enemy they are dealing with. The research also uncovers and explains a new organizational and decision-making structure that is currently being employed by successful insurgencies around the world. We can learn from insurgent strategies and apply those lessons to the US military structure.

3. Scenario Analysis:
In war, it is difficult to experiment with different strategies. Choosing the wrong strategy will result in unintended consequences may cost many lives. With our model of the insurgent ecosystem, we can test different strategies using simulation. This can be done at a low cost and without the potential loss of life. We can test a range of strategic and policy scenarios, e.g. "What is the likely effect of increasing troop numbers on a conflict's duration?" or, "What will likely happen to an insurgency if we focus on attacking midsized groups?"

4. Future event planning:
We can use the model to look for early signs of a potential war or insurgency. Or, we can track the fundamental signatures of conflict in real time to see how likely a war is to end within the next 12 months.

This sounds like a winner to me---why is it being ignored in the media and why is there a distinct lack of open discussions around OSW?

Col James Ruhesi (not verified)

Mon, 03/01/2010 - 9:02pm

I am doing some research on counterinsurgency operations in Africa "The Ivory Coast" so i need some data from you. Thank you. NDU China

Outlaw 7 (not verified)

Wed, 03/03/2010 - 11:04pm

This comment from the Smallwars article "Jihad of the Pen" in fact points to the possibility of some form of COIN that we are not looking at.

In his excellent book The Accidental Guerrilla, David Kilcullen makes the following compelling argument that should be pondered by policymakers and all senior Defense Department officials: "... the efforts of insurgents and terrorists since 9/11 may in fact have already put an end, through unconventional and asymmetric means, to the much-bruited military superiority of the United States, showing the way to all future adversaries and leaving Western powers with fabulously capable and appallingly expensive militaries that are precisely adapted to exactly the wrong kind of war. The post-Cold War era of unparalleled U.S. military power may have been a passing phase: AQ might indeed turn out to be, as Zawahiri called it, the vanguard of a new era of conflict."