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Air Power in the New Counterinsurgency Era

Air Power in the New Counterinsurgency Era: The Strategic Importance of USAF Advisory and Assistance Missions

Alan J. Vick
Adam Grissom
William Rosenau
Beth Grill
Karl P. Mueller
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 204
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  • Book Info
    Air Power in the New Counterinsurgency Era
    Book Description:

    United States has engaged in counterinsurgency around the globe for more than a century. But insurgencies have rarely been defeated by outside powers. Rather, the afflicted nation itself must win the war politically and militarily, and the best way to help is to offer advice, training, and equipment. Air power, and the U.S. Air Force, can play an important role in such efforts, which suggests making them an institutional priority.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4254-5
    Subjects: Management & Organizational Behavior, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Insurgency is not a new form of warfare, dating back to at least 165 BCE when insurgent Jews under Judas Maccabeus defeated Greek occupiers and liberated Jerusalem.¹

    Neither is insurgency new to the United States. The U.S. military has either fought insurgents or supported friendly governments in many counterinsurgency operations since the early 20th century. The Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, Greece, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Bolivia, El Salvador, Colombia, Afghanistan, and Iraq are only the most prominent examples.² During the 40 years of the Cold War, the United States actively sought—through economic aid, security assistance, and combat operations—to counter...

  10. CHAPTER TWO The Evolving Insurgency Challenge
    (pp. 7-26)

    After a decade or more of languishing in obscurity, the phenomenon of insurgency reemerged as a subject of official, analytical, and academic interest during the first years of the 21st century. The ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan illustrate in dramatic terms that insurgency can pose a considerable challenge for even the most formidable military power. Increasingly, the Bush administration defined these insurgencies as fronts within a burgeoning global Islamist insurgency that includes, but is not limited to, Osama bin Laden’s network.¹ Indeed, as bin Laden declared in an October 2004 speech, the techniques of insurgency, honed in the 1980s...

  11. CHAPTER THREE The Challenge of Counterinsurgency: Lessons from the Cold War and After
    (pp. 27-52)

    For the first time since the end of the Cold War, DoD has identified irregular challenges as one of the four major threats to U.S. interests.¹ Although insurgencies are only one of the irregular challenges identified at the DoD level, both the Army and Marines are taking them seriously; the Army published new doctrine in 2004, and the Marines are rewriting their famous manual on small wars,” which dates back to 1940.² This marks the third time in post–World War II history that the nation’s defense establishment has undertaken a significant effort to understand and respond to the threats...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Grand Strategy and Counterinsurgency
    (pp. 53-80)

    As a result of the insurgencies that the United States and its allies have been combating in postinvasion Afghanistan and Iraq, counterinsurgency has once again become a central concern in U.S. defense planning. However, while it is generally accepted that counterinsurgency operations and capabilities will be important in the future, the amount of emphasis that they should receive relative to other priorities for military attention and investment remains an open question—arguably the most important one for U.S. policymakers to answer in designing military forces for the next several decades.

    This chapter considers the questions of how great a role...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE A New Framework for Understanding and Responding to Insurgencies
    (pp. 81-108)

    This chapter presents a conceptual framework to guide our thinking about the problem of insurgency, the relative advantages of various intervention options, and the most effective use of military power. Arguing for a precautionary strategy that would seek to head off potential insurgencies before they reach a critical mass, the chapter then explores the role of security cooperation, using the U.S. assistance to the government of El Salvador in the 1980s to illustrate both the power and limitations of military assistance.

    As discussed in Chapter Two, insurgency and counterinsurgency are primarily political in nature. Police, civilian security, and intelligence forces...

  14. CHAPTER SIX The USAF Role in Countering Insurgencies
    (pp. 109-148)

    This chapter considers USAF’s role in counterinsurgency operations. Beginning with a brief discussion of the contributions of air power to counterinsurgency, it then moves to consider specific USAF contributions in training, advising, and assisting partner-nation air forces. After briefly describing the 6th Special Operations Squadron (6 SOS) (the sole USAF organization assigned the aviation advising mission), we offer a methodology for estimating global post-9/11 demand for USAF aviation advising capabilities and then move from this to estimate the manpower required for supporting expanded advising activities. The chapter concludes with a set of proposals for enhancing USAF’s capabilities for countering insurgencies....

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions
    (pp. 149-152)

    The United States can ignore insurgencies only at its own peril. There are several reasons for this. First, the material well-being of U.S. citizens depends on the smooth running of a highly interdependent global economy. This is not just about access to raw material or cheap labor. Rather, it is the result of a global economy so tightly integrated that information flows, capital, raw materials, components, and final products must move rapidly in a highly predictable manner. Conflict, crime, and disorder, which disrupt access to or the flow of raw materials, labor, components, or finished products, are likely to have...

  16. APPENDIX A States Afflicted by Insurgency
    (pp. 153-154)
  17. APPENDIX B Estimating Manpower Requirements for Advisory Assistance
    (pp. 155-158)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 159-180)