Small Wars Journal

COIN

Philippine Forces Cleared this City of Islamist Militants in 2017. It’s Still a Ghost Town.

Philippine Forces Cleared this City of Islamist Militants in 2017. It’s Still a Ghost Town. Story by Shibani Mahtani and Regine Cabato, Photos by Hannah Reyes Morales, Video by Jason Aldag – Washington Post

At the edge of a bridge leading into the heart of the devastation from a 2017 siege against Islamic State-linked militants, an electric-blue billboard stands apart from the ruins.

“Marawi will rise again! Soon . . .” it proudly declares in rainbow-colored letters.

 

So far, it sounds like an empty promise.

 

More than a year since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared the city liberated, Marawi looks almost as it did when the bombs and bullets stopped flying in October 2017, following five months of urban combat.

 

Not a single new structure has been built. Almost none of the debris has been cleared. Snakes and mosquitoes infest the bright-green canopy of weeds engulfing the ruins. The odd stray dog has taken refuge inside battle-ravaged buildings.

 

About 100,000 people displaced from the Marawi violence are unable to return home, living with relatives or in camps across the southern island of Mindanao. This predominantly Muslim region has seen clashes for decades between Philippine security forces and various groups of insurgents and militants, including the Abu Sayyaf.

 

Marawi, however, stands apart…

Read on.

SWJED Sat, 02/02/2019 - 1:17am

Preparing for the Future: Insurgents Get a Vote

As the U.S. Army looks forward to the next conflict, it must not lose sight of the current strategic challenges. Future adversaries will likely also adopt insurgent tactics, if not entire insurgent groups, in concert with their own modernizing forces in any conflict with the U.S.. Therefore, we must regrow the large-scale combat operations knowledge base in concert with, rather than at the expense, of COIN.

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Tailoring Expectations: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Scenarios in Afghanistan

Here we are eighteen years later with a resurgent Taliban and US/NATO achievements not only not consolidated but more fragile than ever and the Afghan state weaker with an unusual President in the White House, a growing war fatigue in the west and a divided Washington over the fate of its military engagement in the country.

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The Decision to Depart and the Defeat of Violent Extremist Organizations

The President made it clear for some time that he is not in favor of these wars. His advisors, Senior Civilians, and Generals had almost two years to figure out how to disengage and they did not get it done. The President probably grew weary of hearing that if we depart, ISIS will resurge in the political vacuum.

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A Country Study of Communist Terrorism and Islamic Radicalization in Brazil: Implications for Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations in Counter-Guerilla Warfare SWJED Wed, 12/26/2018 - 1:31am
Al-Qaeda religious extremist theology is a negative social movement in Brazil. Additional factors such as poverty, discrimination, and government inefficiency will permit radical Islamists to multiply and the Al-Qaeda terroristic theology to become a dangerous social movement in Brazil. Human terrain analysis and sociological intelligence notes that Al-Qaeda has embedded themselves into benevolent and peaceful Islamic communities of Brazil. Failure to believe that Al-Qaeda is not active in Brazil is a major social problem and intelligence failure.
The Ethiopian Civil War: A Failure in Counterinsurgency SWJED Wed, 12/26/2018 - 12:16am
The Ogaden War, though officially ending in 1978, sparked rapid militarization as well as political repression on a heightened level within Ethiopia, which in turn triggered the conflagration of the Civil War itself. Political radicalization doesn’t attack outwards but rather inwards. The Red Terror, having claimed up to possibly half a million lives.

Making Intelligence Work: A Call to Reform and Re-organize the Afghan Intelligence Community

SWJ Editor’s Note: With the U.S. troop draw-down and the increased and accelerated emphasis on Afghan security force capabilities, this may be the most important paper SWJ has ever published. "To win this war we need good intelligence. Right now, we are throwing our swords in darkness"

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The Marine Corps, Counterinsurgency, and America’s Answer to the French Foreign Legion

In the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (Senate Bill 2987), Congress has proposed reorganizing America’s armed forces. Under the new model, the Army will handle conventional warfare, while the Marine Corps will handle counterinsurgencies. This reorganization would benefit all branches by aligning each branch’s culture and mentality with their respective real-world needs. In this essay, we will look at the three branches (Navy, Marine Corps, and Army) and explore how each branch will benefit, individually.

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The Boer War and Malayan Emergency: Examples of British Counterinsurgency pre- and post-“Minimum Force” SWJED Thu, 12/20/2018 - 10:35am
Both operations were based on three key tenets of control: population control, food control and spatial control. Population control involved exerting enough force over the target population so that they would (or could) not provide support to active insurgent forces. Food control specifically targeted cattle and crops to deprive the enemy of resources and destroy fighting will and capability. Spatial control involved reducing the enemy’s operational space, preventing them from escape and evasion, and finally hunting the remnants down by exerting constant pressure through armed sweeps