Small Wars Journal

doctrine

Western COIN: The Rise of “Soft” Counterinsurgency Doctrine

This paper examines the major shifts in irregular warfare, defined here in accordance with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Operating Concept as “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over [a designated] population.” While there have been several noteworthy evolutions in the ways in which insurgents wage war, this paper argues that the most consequential developments in irregular warfare have occurred on the state-side, reasoning that Western democracies’ embrace of “soft” COIN approaches has spread worldwide.

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Why Doctrine Matters

Critics will argue that furniture instructions are a poor analogy for doctrine. And yes, they are correct. Doctrine is not meant to be a step-by-step guide. It is meant to allow flexibility and adaptability as conditions change. Doctrine, however, should not be shunned. It should not sit idle on a shelf or the Army Publishing Directorate website.

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Parade and Event Security

Establishing effective parade and event security at mass gatherings, in certain circumstances can involve mitigating a sub-set of terrorist, extremist or violent bombings with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) classified as in-situ attacks. An in-situ attack occurs where an IED has been used against people who are packed or blocked into a confined space, offering a dense target. The attack results in a higher level of fatal casualties. A core problem with mass gatherings is that these unavoidably create areas where people are blocked together unable to freely move, for a lengthy time.

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The Challenge of Fighting Small Wars While Trying to Adequately Prepare for Big Ones

Except for the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, America has been fighting small, counterinsurgency wars since 9-11. This begs the question of whether fighting small wars inhibits or enhances our readiness to transition to large, high-intensity conflicts against peer or near peer competitors? The answer is complicated and somewhat ambiguous.

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