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Counter Insurgency 101

Discussion in 'Defence Analysis' started by Inactive, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. Inactive

    Inactive Guest

    Introduction

    War, as defined by Clausewitz, in a simplified form, is politics by other means. Historically, many a leading minds in the domain of Strategy and Operational Art, have tried to simplify it as a game of Chess, played theoretically between two opponents, whose stress is on manoeuver and force accumulation/consolidation at an appropriate time, to deal a fatal blow to the opposing force in order to ‘kill’ the opposing King.

    While the above simplification is apt to understand the broad concepts of war fighting, what remains unsaid, is that no chess player has found a sure way of winning from the first move itself, thereby rendering the game itself susceptible to a multitude of variables, which may/may not be within the control of the player, and may, at times, leave the player in a position beyond an ability to conduct any logical analysis to extricate from/take advantage of an emergent situation.


    Broadly speaking, the laws of war can be summed up as under:

    1. The belligerent with the larger force, usually wins.

    2. If both the belligerents have equal forces, then the one who is more resolute, prevails.

    3. If both the belligerents have equal resolve, then the one that seizes the initiative and continues to hold it, wins.

    4. Surprise always plays a decisive role in any confrontation.


    Now, if we were to further take our analogy of defining war in terms of a game, then war, perhaps, can be best defined as a combination of
    Chess and the Chinese game of Wei Qi (Japanese and International Name “Go”), where in, the run up to a successful campaign involves a multitude of manoeuvres to gain a strategic “edge” and then only to seek a confrontation, when the diplomacy fails.

    These tenets of war, broadly speaking, hold true even in a Counter Insurgency Operation. To ignore them, is a step that a Commander (or a Political Leadership) undertakes at great peril where the stakes can be as high as the Nation itself. However, unlike in a conventional war where these tenets hold for either side, an insurgency may have these variables working in favour of one only.

    In the succeeding posts over the period of time
    , I shall try to extrapolate the above tenets in the context of Indian experience specific to Kashmir itself.

    (continued)

    Insurgency & it’s characteristics

    Revolution, plot (or coup d’etat), and insurgency are the three ways to take power by force in any scenario. Concerning ourselves only with insurgency, with a history of India of waging counter insurgency operations in various parts of the country since independence, one can simplify an insurgency into a protracted struggle conducted methodically, step by step, in order to attain specific intermediate objectives leading finally to the overthrow of the existing order.

    Contrast this with a revolution or a plot (coup d’etat). A revolution usually is an explosive upheaval—sudden, brief, spontaneous, unplanned and unpredictable. In a revolution, masses move and then leaders appear. On the other hand, a plot is the clandestine action of an insurgent group directed at the overthrow of the top leadership in its country. It is slow, nondescript in planning, but quick and maybe extremely violent in the act itself. By the inherent nature of it being a clandestine act, the masses are not involved.

    Reverting back to an insurgency, there are two belligerents in any insurgency: an insurgent, and a counter-insurgent. Since the insurgent is the ‘initiator’ in the whole scenario, the initiative rests with the insurgent.


    By the very fact of the the initiative resting with the insurgent, the insurgent can choose the time, place and tempo of hostile actions to be undertaken. Since the world is far more complex than the above simplicity, external factors may play a significant role in determining the time, place and tempo, depending on the desired results of the external supporting nation/agency.


    Until the insurgent has clearly revealed the intentions by engaging in subversion or open violence, (s)he represents nothing but an imprecise, potential menace to the political authority in power/counterinsurgent and does not offer a concrete target that would justify a large effort. Yet an insurgency can reach a high degree of development by legal and peaceful means, at least in countries where political opposition is tolerated. This greatly limits pre-emptive moves on the part of the antagonist political authority/counterinsurgent. Usually, the most any political authority/counterinsurgent can do is to try to eliminate or alleviate the conditions propitious for an insurgency.


    An appreciation of the contending forces will indicate that the insurgent is the ‘outside’ force while the established political authority/counterinsurgent is the ‘inside’ force, deriving it’s legitimacy from the established political order in the country/territory. They have the necessary diplomatic recognition, a legitimate power in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the country/territory, a control of the administration and police (necessary for ‘civil’ control of the population as a whole), the financial resources, the industrial and agricultural resources at home or ready access to them abroad; control of the transport and communications facilities; use and control of the information and print/broadcast media; command of the armed forces and the possibility of increasing their size and scale of equipment, in short, an absolute control of all the resources of an established nation state at it’s disposal.


    On the opposite side, the strength of the insurgent is in ‘intangibles’. It may have a limited but very strong support bordering on near fanaticism, a support base (or an ‘ideological base’ invariably supported by an external agency or a nation/nations; as seen in the world today), which may increase with passage of time/scale of influence dissemination. The counterinsurgent has a very heavy liability in the inherent asset — he is responsible for maintaining law and order throughout the territory/country. The insurgent’s strategy will naturally aim at converting his intangible asset into a concrete one, every action will be directed to wrest the advantage in own favour and deny the inherent “ascendancy” in the struggle to the established political order/counterinsurgent; the counterinsurgent’s strategy at preventing his intangible liability from dissipating his concrete assets; something he expends a substantial portion of available resources in terms of political, diplomatic and economic capital, to ensure. The insurgent thus has to grow in the course of the war from small to large, from weakness to strength, or else he fails. The counterinsurgent will decline from large to small, from strength to weakness, in direct relation to the insurgent’s success or reverse.


    Faced with a formidable array of instances against itself, the insurgent aims to attain a position from which (s)he can fight in a manner so as to negate the advantage of the counterinsurgent. This is where, the objective of any counterinsurgency operation becomes pre-dominantly - population.


    If the insurgent manages to dissociate the population from the counterinsurgent, to control it physically, to get its active support, he will win the war because, in the final analysis, the exercise of political power depends on the tacit or explicit agreement of the population or, at worst, on its submissiveness.

    While every war has a political objective, and in the words of Clausewitz war is politics by other means, the counterinsurgency operations are exclusively characterised by the population being the ultimate objective.

    The objective being the population itself, the operations designed to win it over (for the insurgent) or to keep it at least submissive (for the counterinsurgent) are essentially of a political nature. In this case, consequently, political action remains foremost throughout the war. It is not enough for the government to set political goals, to determine how much military force is applicable, to enter into alliances or to break them (GoI’s alliance with the ‘Ikhwanis’ in the 1990s to break the insurgency in Kashmir); politics becomes an active instrument of operation (something at which the Government of India is still wanting) . And so intricate is the interplay between the political and the military actions that they cannot be tidily separated; on the contrary, every military move has to be weighed with regard to its political effects, and vice versa.

    (continued)

    The Population Dynamics


    In any insurgency, the population is divided into three broad segments:


    1. The pro-insurgent minority.
    2. The neutral majority.
    3. The pro-government/counterinsurgent minority.

    The ‘battle’ for ‘population’ depends on the complex dynamics of this population sub-set, which are unstable and variable sub-sets, depending on factors of socioeconomic to politico-military nature. Once an insurgent gains an ‘upper hand’ in an area/territory, the pro-government /counterinsurgent minority becomes invisible. Some of its members may be eliminated physically, thereby providing an example to the others who opposed the insurgent; others may escape abroad/leave the territory; most are cowed into hiding their true feelings, and have thus melted within the majority of the population; a few are found even making a show of their support for the insurgency. The population, watched by the active supporters of the insurgency, lives under the threat of denunciation and prompt punishment by the guerrilla units.


    The minority hostile to the insurgent will not and cannot emerge as long as the threat has not been lifted to a reasonable extent (read effective control of counterinsurgent forces of the area as also the population). Furthermore, even after the threat has been lifted, the emerging counterinsurgent supporters will not be able to rally the bulk of the population so long as the population is not convinced that the counterinsurgent has the will, the means, and the ability to win. When a man’s life is at stake, it takes more than propaganda to budge him.



    Effective political action on the population must be preceded by military and police operations against the guerrilla units and the insurgent political organisations. Political, social, economic, and other reforms, however much they ought to be wanted and popular, are inoperative when offered while the insurgent still controls the population, hence, a need for a military intervention to create conducive atmosphere for a political action.


    The counterinsurgent needs a convincing success as early as possible in order to demonstrate that he has the will, the means, and the ability to win. The counterinsurgent cannot safely enter into negotiations except from a position of strength, or his potential supporters will flock to the insurgent


    In conventional warfare, strength is assessed according to military or other tangible criteria, such as the number of divisions, the position they hold, the industrial resources, etc. In counterinsurgency, strength must be assessed by the extent of support from the population as measured in terms of political organisation at the grass roots. The counterinsurgent reaches a position of strength when his power is embodied in a political organisation issuing from, and firmly supported by, the population.


    Disclaimer: Views as expressed by the author @Hellfire on www.indiandefence.com is an amalgamation of various treatises on counter insurgency operations and the author's own understanding. They do not form any official doctrine. Same can be quoted and used with credit to www.indiandefence.com

    __________________________________________________________________________



    A broad outline to start a discussion in a collective effort at understanding Counterinsurgency (CI/COINS) Operations. Inputs by members are solicited to point out errors, and add on their perspective and views from own experiences.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2017
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  2. R!CK

    R!CK 2nd Lieutant Technical Analyst

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    Very nicely done. Felt like reading a book, looking forward to more articles like this from your end @Hellfire

    Good Day to you!
     
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  3. Inactive

    Inactive Guest


    Thank you. This was a hurried write up as was needed to get it moving. Will appreciate inputs from one and all to move this ahead.
     
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  4. PARIKRAMA

    PARIKRAMA Angel or Devil? Staff Member ADMINISTRATOR

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    This thread deserves a promotion and special place
    Excellent work @Hellfire
     
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  5. nair

    nair Die hard Romeo Staff Member ADMINISTRATOR

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    The first write up after the revamp of the forum... many more to come...

    Well done @Hellfire
     
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  6. Techy

    Techy Zonked Developer Developers -IT and R&D

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    @Hellfire Nice one Sir, looking forward to more similar articles from you :)
     
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  7. Levina

    Levina Admin- Social media Staff Member ADMINISTRATOR

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    Great!

    @Hellfire could you explain this in India's context? Will help me assimilate it better. :)
     
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  8. Inactive

    Inactive Guest


    The context which I wanted to highlight here was the fact that the military component has been achieved by the Indian Security forces in Kashmir and now it is the political component of the strategy that needs to be implemented, something which we all have been emphasising on.

    The objective remains to win the population. Extrapolating it to Kashmir for example, I want to highlight that the popular demand to do away with Article 370 without building up the necessary ground support and acceptance within J&K as whole, would be counter productive.

    We have been stressing on the fact that the actual secessionists form a minority in Kashmir, but the Government of India is loosing the political war here. That is the cause of concern.

    Now if you use this to the sequence of posts in the thread on Baramulla arrests a few days back, you will realise how some of the suggestions and ideas of 'solution' posted there are counter productive and downright dangerous.

    Specifically to a point you touched upon - the Modi thought.

    The aim of the present government in getting the Pandits back into Kashmir is to increase the minority that can oppose the attempts of pro-secessionist minority to sway the majority neutrals on basis of religious affinity and commonality.

    The stress should be to promote the concept of Kashmiriyat across religions to beat this attempt of anti-national elements.
     
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  9. Levina

    Levina Admin- Social media Staff Member ADMINISTRATOR

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    Do you mean both^^ are contradictory?

    Isn't bringing Pandits back into the valley same as promoting the concept of Kashmiriyat? Or have i got it wrong?


    BTW tags that you give to your thread(usually appear at the top of each thread) are nothing but the "search words" picked up by search engines.

    To tag members you will have to tag them by name.
    Edited it for you. :)
    @jbgt90 @scorpionx @MilSpec @nair @PARIKRAMA @randomradio (ppl whom you intended to tag ).
     
  10. Inactive

    Inactive Guest


    You have got it. There is a need for synergistic action.

    Thanks .... that was due to my inept handling of the site on phone set.
     
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  11. VCheng

    VCheng RIDER GEO STRATEGIC ANALYST

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    The internal political process led by the central government would have a much easier time without any interfering external forces. Therefore, in addition to the military and political aspects of the solution, I would like to suggest a better foreign policy in the region as an added necessity.
     
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  12. Inactive

    Inactive Guest


    That is fundamentally an acknowledgement of influences of external nature on the insurgent movement within a nation, covered by:

    "a support base (or an ‘ideological base’ invariably supported by an external agency or a nation/nations; as seen in the world today), which may increase with passage of time/scale of influence dissemination."

    Hence, an ancillary point of consideration, as situations may exist wherein perfectly healthy relationships exist between the two states in question and yet one may try and influence the political structure of the other.
     
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  13. VCheng

    VCheng RIDER GEO STRATEGIC ANALYST

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    How do you suggest India deals with this aspect affecting the Kashmir issue?
     
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  14. Inactive

    Inactive Guest

    May I just say, that an insurgency needs to be tackled at the grassroots, irrespective of the external agency fanning it. That is why, the need for a political dialogue and settlement by policy initiatives. Until and unless the conditions for an insurgency are nipped in bud, there will be always a minority which shall be insurgent in nature.

    The military component can never ever act singularly to check and eradicate any insurgency. Hence, while your long terms perspective over the issue is correct, the fact that the external agency in this particular case is neither in a mood to compromise nor is looking for any political solution by itself serves to highlight the futility of the approach.
     
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  15. VCheng

    VCheng RIDER GEO STRATEGIC ANALYST

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    You make fair points, but it is equally clear that hat India is doing at present is not working to eliminate the insurgency, but rather inflaming it. Why continue to provide another example for Einsteins definition of insanity?
     

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