Adapting to Win

Adapting to Win: How Insurgents Fight and Defeat Foreign States in War

Noriyuki Katagiri
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Adapting to Win
    Book Description:

    When insurgent groups challenge powerful states, defeat is not always inevitable. Increasingly, guerrilla forces have overcome enormous disadvantages and succeeded in extending the period of violent conflict, raising the costs of war, and occasionally winning. Noriyuki Katagiri investigates the circumstances and tactics that allow some insurgencies to succeed in wars against foreign governments while others fail.

    Adapting to Winexamines almost 150 instances of violent insurgencies pitted against state powers, including in-depth case studies of the war in Afghanistan and the 2003 Iraq war. By applying sequencing theory, Katagiri provides insights into guerrilla operations ranging from Somalia to Benin and Indochina, demonstrating how some insurgents learn and change in response to shifting circumstances. Ultimately, his research shows that successful insurgent groups have evolved into mature armed forces, and then demonstrates what evolutionary paths are likely to be successful or unsuccessful for those organizations.Adapting to Winwill interest scholars of international relations, security studies, and third world politics and contains implications for government officials, military officers, and strategic thinkers around the globe as they grapple with how to cope with tenacious and violent insurgent organizations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9013-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. CHAPTER 1 How Do Insurgents Fight and Defeat Foreign States in War?
    (pp. 1-24)

    How do insurgent forces fight and defeat foreign states in war? What can powerful states do to prevent policy disaster when they confront nonstate rebels in foreign lands? Recent conflicts in Iraq, Libya, and Syria—and Western experiences with them—have all underscored the importance of understanding how nonstate insurgent and guerrilla forces have dealt with enormous disadvantages in power to achieve their ends and what foreign governments and their powerful militaries can do to attain their own purposes.

    These are not just policy questions. Until recently, few in academia believed in the power of rebel insurgents challenging powerful states...

  4. CHAPTER 2 Origins and Proliferation of Sequencing
    (pp. 25-39)

    As this book’s title suggests, the intellectual roots of sequencing theory lie in the application of evolutionary thought to the field of international security. Sequencing theory draws from the combination of two propositions in the field—Darwinian adaptation by natural selection and Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics—that are often considered to be intellectual opposites. First, Darwinian selection operates on the logic of competition in which species, in this case insurgent groups, cope with a hostile environment by making a series of adjustments to survive. Competition and adjustment are no strangers to scholars of international relations; Waltz discusses the need...

  5. CHAPTER 3 How Sequencing Theory Works
    (pp. 40-62)

    Recent proliferation of sequential strategies, both in practice and through academia, attests to the growing recognition of the importance of using sequences in conflict. The existing ideas and works, however, need an overarching framework, which requires us to explore precisely how sequencing theory works. To answer this question I disaggregate its components in the context of extrasystemic war. In so doing, I reveal the presence of three phases—guerrilla war, conventional war, and state building—that compose the theory. I also show that sequencing strategies are likely to emerge when insurgent leaders put together a set of these phases in...

  6. CHAPTER 4 The Conventional Model: The Dahomean War (1890–1894)
    (pp. 63-78)

    In this chapter, I deploy the conventional model as a theoretical framework to examine the Dahomean War. The central proposition of this chapter is that war against a stronger foreign power is an impossible task if the insurgent side adopts a conventional model. According to this model, insurgent forces engage in open-terrain violence with their counterpart until one side is defeated. The conventional model is characterized by the direct use of force where military power plays a central role in the outcome. As such, rebel forces in Dahomey, located in what is now Benin in West Africa, mounted a brave...

  7. CHAPTER 5 The Primitive Model: Malayan Emergency (1948–1960)
    (pp. 79-93)

    In this chapter, I apply the primitive model of sequencing theory to show that insurgent rebels are likely to lose war if they fight solely using a guerrilla strategy. Between 1948 and 1960, insurgents belonging to the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) fought British and local forces for the independence of a communist state in Malaya in a protracted guerrilla war until they were defeated. There were many factors that led to their defeat, including balance of power, minority status, and lack of external support, but here I demonstrate that the main reason is that they failed to move the fight...

  8. CHAPTER 6 The Degenerative Model: The Iraq War (2003–2011)
    (pp. 94-114)

    There have been few research projects to date explaining why the military operation in Iraq ended the way it did in 2011. Here I present the degenerative model of the sequencing theory to do so. The model deploys a useful framework to deconstruct the complex war, which involved a number of states, armed forces, tribes, insurgents, and warlords as well as a diverse set of competing political, economic, and military interests, aims, and interpretations. The importance of this case study is obvious, as scholars acknowledge the significance of the war, although not always its necessity, in terms of its repercussions...

  9. CHAPTER 7 The Premature Model: The Anglo-Somali War (1900–1920)
    (pp. 115-130)

    The Anglo-Somali War of 1900 to 1920 is an example of the “premature” model. In this model, insurgents initially fight like guerrilla forces yet evolve into regular armies to fight conventional war. The model depicts the fighting in terms of a midwar transition from a period of guerrilla war into a phase of conventional war. The model is a “premature” one because, while insurgents do evolve from a guerrilla organization into a modern army, they do so without a critical phase of state building. The evolution ends up being premature because, while the transition into conventional war is a necessary...

  10. CHAPTER 8 The Maoist Model: The Guinean War of Independence (1963–1974)
    (pp. 131-149)

    The Guinean War of independence receives little attention from the public today, but it reveals quite a drama about extrasystemic war. A tiny political group called the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde, or PAIGC) in this little-known place began a rural guerrilla insurgency before it became one of the best organized armed forces of West African history and defeated the colonial power in a highly contested war of attrition. In one of the recent revisits to the war, Mustafah Dhada writes that “the war was a...

  11. CHAPTER 9 The Progressive Model: The Indochina War (1946–1954)
    (pp. 150-168)

    The progressive model of the sequencing theory is best represented by the Indochina War, a war between Vietminh and French forces between 1946 and 1954. Apparently an underdog in this war, the Vietminh fought face-to-face with the colonial master that had dominated Indochina for decades.² The drama about this case was that after years of struggle, the Vietminh achieved the unthinkable. Vietminh leader Ho Chi Minh, who led the independence movement, proudly stated that “against the enemy’s airplanes and artillery we had only bamboo sticks. . . . The discrepancy between our forces and the enemy’s was so great that...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 169-190)

    The central argument of this book is that insurgent groups are likely to defeat foreign states in war when they achieve an orderly combination of three phases: state building, guerrilla war, and conventional war. Adaptation and evolution through the right sequences, therefore, are central to success and failure. Evolving in the “right” sequences, however, imposes a significant burden on those seeking to achieve it. Insurgents need to outperform their enemy in the first phase, whether in guerrilla battles or in state-building efforts, which allow them to move the war on to the second phase. The transition alone will not be...

  13. APPENDIX A. List of Extrasystemic Wars (1816–2010)
    (pp. 191-200)
  14. APPENDIX B. Description of 148 Wars and Sequences
    (pp. 201-242)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 243-270)
    (pp. 271-292)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 293-298)
    (pp. 299-301)