Understanding Proto-Insurgencies

Understanding Proto-Insurgencies: RAND Counterinsurgency StudyÑPaper 3

Daniel Byman
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 74
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  • Book Info
    Understanding Proto-Insurgencies
    Book Description:

    This study examines how terrorist groups transition to insurgencies and identifies ways to combat proto-insurgents. It describes the steps groups must take to gain the size and capabilities of insurgencies, the role of outside state support, and actions governments can take to prevent potential insurgencies from blossoming. The most effective U.S. counterinsurgency action would be to anticipate the possibility of insurgencies developing; it could then provide training and advisory programs and inhibit outsides support.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4282-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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

    Pity the would-be insurgent. He and his comrades are unknown to the population at large, and their true agenda has little popularity. Indeed, most countries around the world oppose their agenda. Many of the fighters are not experienced in warfare or clandestine operations, making them easy prey for the police and intelligence services. Their families are at the mercy of government security forces. The government they oppose, in contrast, is relatively rich, has thousands or even millions of administrators, policemen, and soldiers, and enjoys considerable legitimacy. As J. Bowyer Bell argues, “The assets of the state are so apparent, so...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Terrorism, Insurgency, and Proto-Insurgency
    (pp. 3-6)

    The overlap between insurgency and terrorism has important implications for both effective counterterrorism and effective COIN operations.¹ Proto-insurgencies are often found at this nexus.

    Not all terrorist groups are insurgencies, but almost every insurgent group uses terrorism. Although the exact percentage depends heavily on coding decisions, in my judgment approximately half of the groups listed by the U.S. Department of State as Foreign Terrorist Organizations are insurgencies as well as terrorist groups. Even more important, the majority of the most worrisome terrorist groups in the world today are also insurgencies. The LTTE, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the Lebanese Hizballah, and...

  9. CHAPTER THREE The Role of Violence
    (pp. 7-10)

    By definition, terrorism, guerrilla warfare, and insurgencies are steeped in violence. Violence is instrumental for proto-insurgencies in all the tasks they seek to accomplish: It can foster an identity, create a cause, outpace rivals, attract outside support, and—most important—lead a state to overreact. Thus it is not surprising that terrorists typically see violence as a tool, perhapsthetool, for the creation of insurgencies. As Carlos Marighela, the Brazilian leader who authored theMinimanual of the Urban Guerrilla, wrote, “Action creates the vanguard.”¹

    Violence can aid recruitment. For Marighela and others, violence is a form of propaganda. Such...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR The Proto-Insurgent’s Tasks
    (pp. 11-20)

    To gain the size and capabilities of an insurgency, a terrorist group or other would-be insurgent movement must take several steps: It must create an identity, attach this identity to a cause that has widespread appeal, manage relations with rivals, find or foster a sanctuary, and address the issue of outside state support. These steps must usually be taken simultaneously and incrementally; success in one often contributes to success in another. Indicators for when a proto-insurgency is succeeding are discussed in Appendix C.

    First, proto-insurgents must create a politically relevant identity—a surprisingly difficult task. Individuals have multiple identities. The...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE The Role of the State
    (pp. 21-24)

    The success or failure of a proto-insurgent movement depends only in part (at times only in small part) on its own campaign. The reaction of the state is often the most important factor in the movement’s overall success or failure.

    States have tremendous potential influence over would-be insurgents’ ability to create an identity and organize. They can disrupt organizations through various forms of policing and repression and can co-opt potential leaders and make them allies of the state. Saudi Arabia’s post-2003 campaign against would-be insurgents in the Kingdom is instructive. On the one hand, the Saudi security services began a...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Defeating Proto-Insurgencies
    (pp. 25-30)

    One of the most important factors in combating proto-insurgencies is understanding when they are growing into more formidable foes.

    Appendix C provides indicators for analysts monitoring potential insurgencies. It examines different measures of a group’s size and composition, its success in creating an identity, its use of violence, ties to other groups, links to state sponsors, creation of a sanctuary, and other vital parts of insurgent success. As the discussion makes clear, it is particularly important to recognize the many dimensions of what constitutes an insurgency—simply monitoring attacks or size is not enough. It is essential for many indicators...

  13. APPENDIX A Three Cases of Proto-Insurgent Success and Failure
    (pp. 31-44)
  14. APPENDIX B Applying the Proto-Insurgency Concept to Saudi Arabia Today
    (pp. 45-50)
  15. APPENDIX C Proto-Insurgency Indicators
    (pp. 51-56)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 57-60)