On "Other War": Lessons from Five Decades of RAND Counterinsurgency Research

On "Other War": Lessons from Five Decades of RAND Counterinsurgency Research

Austin Long
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 120
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mg482osd
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  • Book Info
    On "Other War": Lessons from Five Decades of RAND Counterinsurgency Research
    Book Description:

    The challenges posed by insurgency and instability have proved difficult to surmount. This difficulty may embolden future opponents to embrace insurgency in combating the United States. Both the current and future conduct of the war on terror demand that the United States improve its ability to conduct counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. This study makes recommendations for improving COIN based on RAND•s decades-long study of it.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4110-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Summary
    (pp. ix-xii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    In a paper written in early 2004, Bruce Hoffman compared the U.S. experience with counterinsurgency (COIN) to the movieGroundhog Day, in which Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, is forced to live the same day over and over until he gets it right. Unlike Connors, getting counterinsurgency right still appears to be a consummation devoutly wished for the United States. In Iraq and Afghanistan, insurgents vex U.S. forces despite massive improvements in both technology and training since the last deployment of combat troops for counterinsurgency in Vietnam.

    This continued failure of the U.S. government to develop appropriate measures for counterinsurgency...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Wizards of Less-Than-Armageddon: RAND and COIN
    (pp. 5-12)

    As World War II drew to a close, the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces was concerned about the future. Airpower and technology appeared inextricably tied together, particularly in the dawning atomic age. Yet General Henry “Hap” Arnold was worried that, without the impetus of war, U.S. scientists would return to universities, depriving the military of their expertise. In order to ensure access to elite intellectual talent, Arnold and others in and out of government established the Research and Development (RAND) Corporation in October 1945. RAND quickly grew into an interdisciplinary think tank concerned with the problems of the...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Analogies and War: Are Theory and Empirics from Prior COIN Relevant?
    (pp. 13-20)

    Before proceeding, it is worth discussing the merit of studying previous COIN theory and practice. Some consider valueless any attempts to develop a generalizable theory of COIN or to seek analogies to other conflicts, as each insurgency is deeply rooted in a particular set of conditions, both domestic and international. Only an analyst with great depth in a given region or country can make judgments about it, obviating the need for theory or analogy.

    Answering these objections involves an issue that is at the core of both social science and policy analysis, and this particular work more so than many...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR COIN Theory: What Are Insurgencies and How Does One Fight Them?
    (pp. 21-34)

    COIN theory (as opposed to lists of practices such as those codified in works such as the U.S. Marine CorpsSmall Wars Manual[1972]) is almost entirely a product of the Cold War. It resulted from the interaction of government and academia that was so common in the decades between the beginning of World War II and the end of Vietnam. RAND was one of the premier entities for facilitating this interaction, and so is central to the development of COIN theory. The next chapter traces the evolution of two competing theories of COIN, and then makes suggestions for further...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE The Social Scientists’ Wars: RAND and COIN Practice
    (pp. 35-56)

    In addition to work on the theoretical understanding of COIN, RAND conducted considerable research into the practice of counterinsurgency. This work, as alluded to earlier, ranged from seeking to develop more effective munitions for interdicting the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos to attempting to improve organizational structures for COIN. Given this breadth, this study is limited to four broad categories that appear to have particular relevance in the context of current (and probably future) COIN operations. These categories are organization of insurgents and counterinsurgents, border control systems, amnesty and reward programs, and pacification. The last category is particularly broad,...

  13. CHAPTER SIX COIN Old and New
    (pp. 57-74)

    The body of RAND research on COIN suggests several practices and techniques for current COIN. Exploiting these practices would help the United States avoid further delay in its attempts to develop solutions for Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as for future COIN efforts. The recommendations that follow are, admittedly, subject to debate and in many cases will require further research on the specific insurgent environments.

    Two major caveats are in order as well. First, no “silver bullet” solution to COIN exists. At best, the following recommendations can each make a substantial contribution to the COIN effort, and perhaps together bring...

  14. APPENDIX RAND Counterinsurgency Publications, 1955–1995: Selected Annotated Bibliography
    (pp. 75-84)
  15. References
    (pp. 85-101)