Counterinsurgency in a Test Tube

Counterinsurgency in a Test Tube: Analyzing the Success of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI)

Russell W. Glenn
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 188
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  • Book Info
    Counterinsurgency in a Test Tube
    Book Description:

    The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which began on July 24, 2003, has been a remarkable success, in part because of the consistency of its message, the strength of its leadership, and its uncommon support for, rather than overt control of, the Solomon Islands government and policing capability. This study reviews RAMSI operations through the lens of a broader application to current and future counterinsurgency efforts.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4263-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Summary
    (pp. xi-xx)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxviii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Background and Brief History of Operation Helpem Fren, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI)
    (pp. 1-42)

    Many of the nations supporting RAMSI—formally designated Operation Helpem Fren (“Helping Friend” in Solomon Islands pidgin)—benefited from their men and women’s experiences in other missions around the world in the years preceding the July 24, 2003, arrival of the coalition in the Solomon Islands. Operations in Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and elsewhere all involved one or more RAMSI member nation. Those actions provided lessons that would serve the participants in good stead in the Solomon Islands, but they also provided experiences that were unfortunately overlooked in that undertaking. A brief look at two of...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Considering the Nature of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency
    (pp. 43-52)

    The U.S. Army describes stability operations as those that “promote and protect US national interests by influencing the threat, political, and information dimensions of the operational environment through a combination of peacetime developmental, cooperative activities and coercive actions in response to crisis.”¹ RAMSI obviously qualifies (the United States’ nation-centric character of the definition notwithstanding), and it therefore has lessons of potential value given the frequency of such actions in recent years. It is far less clear that it qualifies as a counterinsurgency undertaking, defined in U.S. doctrine as “[t]hose military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a...

  10. CHAPTER THREE July 2003 Solomon Islands as an Insurgency: Participant Perspectives
    (pp. 53-58)

    It is clear that the leaders of the nations providing men and women to RAMSI considered the undertaking one of assisting a government and people in need. From the perspective of AusAID, for example, “The purpose of RAMSI, a regional assistance mission involving security and civil policing elements, is to restore physical and economic stability and the basic functioning of government to Solomon Islands.”¹

    RAMSI participants and those in the participants’ capitals are quick to remind us that the operation’s ultimate success has yet to be determined, but it is evident that the initial years of that undertaking have done...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Successful COIN: Three Crucial Conditions
    (pp. 59-114)

    Every stability operation, each insurgency, is unique, meaning that the undertakings to meet their challenges are likewise. Among the many factors that influence success or failure are three particularly notable conditions. An inability to attain these conditions conversely characterizes operational failures. Effectively orchestrating interagency capabilities, capitalizing on multinational resources, and gaining the moral and operational high ground—the three elements in question—themselves require proficiency in a number of areas. The nature of these elements, how RAMSI established them in the service of restoring stability and security in the Solomon Islands, and consideration of selected critical subcomponents follow.

    Two ....

  12. CHAPTER FIVE RAMSI: Was It a Counterinsurgency?
    (pp. 115-120)

    Given the above definitions, proposed in Chapter Two, was the situation that plagued the Solomon Islands prior to the arrival of RAMSI an insurgency?

    Further investigation of insurgencies’ character is helpful here, but it is first necessary not to limit the analysis to episodes overtly labeled as insurgencies. Many of those who have participated in or against an insurgency and later written of the experience call the episode by various names. Conceptualizations of insurgency based on 20th-century conflict often describe them as having overlapping steps, stages, or phases. Students of insurgency, irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, guerrilla warfare, and other forms...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Fitting the RAMSI Square Peg into the World’s Round Holes
    (pp. 121-146)

    Whycounterinsurgency in a test tube? The RAMSI mission comes closer to completely controlling every aspect of a counterinsurgency operation (or, arguably a stability operation) than any other in recent history. This remarkable accomplishment has come about in an operation with quite a limited number of military and police personnel and with a command structure in which armed forces personnel were subordinate to civil authorities at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war (though “levels of operation” or “levels of campaign” would be a more appropriate designation in the case of RAMSI). Further, no individual interviewed in support of...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 147-160)