Archive for the ‘Counter-Insurgency’ Category

The Taliban’s fall and the massive American military and political presence in South and West Asia have created grounds for a polarization into two camps: India, Iran and Russia, to which China is affiliated, and the United States and Pakistan. In Peimani’s analysis, their incompatible interests will push them towards confrontations with regional and international implications.

Contrary to expectations, the fall of the Taliban did not bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. The Afghan interim government is simply too weak to act as a central government; this results in the re-emergence of warlords, turf wars, and the expansion of drug trafficking. This unstable situation may well result in the emergence of Taliban-like groups. Added to this, the threat of the spillover of instability from Afghanistan into neighboring regions, on the one hand, and the rapid expansion of American military and political power in Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, on the other, have created fear among the regional powers.

The stated indefinite stay of American forces well after the end of the anti-terrorist war in Afghanistan has worsened that fear as it reflected the American government’s plan to pursue certain strategic interests unrelated to that war. Consequently, as Peimani shows, the regional anti-terrorist coalition has disintegrated in the absence of a common objective to help focus the region. Fear of the long-term American objectives and those of its Pakistani ally in South and West Asia incompatible with those of the regional powers have facilitated the creation of two camps consisting of Iran, India, and Russia, to which China is affiliated, and Pakistan and the United States. Respectively, these implicit and explicit camps are likely to collide over their regional interests especially in the strategically important energy-producing Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea regions.

Book by Hooman Peimani


The first comprehensive account in English of how the Portuguese Armed Forces prepared for and conducted a distant counterinsurgency campaign in its African possessions with very limited resources, choosing to stay and fight despite the small odds for success. The Portuguese military crafted its doctrine and implemented it to match the guerrilla strategy of protracted war, and in doing so, followed the lessons gleaned from the British and French experiences in small wars. The Portuguese approach to the conflict was distinct in that it sought to combine the two-pronged national strategy of containing the cost of the war and of spreading the burden to the colonies with the solution on the battlefield. It describes how Portugal defined and analyzed its insurgency problem in light of the available knowledge on counterinsurgency, how it developed its military policies and doctrines in this context, and how it applied them in the African colonial environment. The uniqueness of its approach is highlighted through a thematic military analysis of the Portuguese effort and a comparison with the experiences of other governments fighting similar contemporaneous wars.

Book by John P. Cann III


This study exposes the support that administrations in Washington have given right-wing dictatorships that committed terrorism especially during the cold war and war on terrorism. It offers a critique of this latter war, and the study’s portrayal of the earlier war serves as necessary background for understanding and evaluating the latter war. It rejects the narrow definition of terrorism insisted on by Washington that exempts terrorism committed by governments (state terrorism) from the definition, and for political reasons restricts the term solely to the private terrorism committed by private individuals or non-governmental organizations. Every one of the six truth commission reports used in the study—one each for El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa and two with remarkably similar conclusions for Guatemala– found that the governments were responsible for the great preponderance of terrorism and other acts of repression that occurred in their respective countries, much more so than the guerrillas. In El Salvador, Guatemala, and Chile the governments were found to be guilty of over 90 percent of the acts of terrorism and other acts of repression. Sponsored by the United Nations, successor governments to those that committed state terrorism, or the Catholic Archdiocese of Guatemala City, each of these reports is based on thousands of interviews mostly with surviving victims or their families and friends. All of the truth commission reports charged that the state terrorists committed unimaginable, unspeakable acts of cruelty and terrorism, what the truth commission for Argentina characterized as an “encyclopedia of horror.” Advertised as a defense against communism and sometimes swayed by other motives– racism in South Africa and Guatemala and anti-Semitism in Argentina– the basic motive for the state terrorists was discovered to be the preservation of the status quo and the prevention of social change. They hunted down, tortured, terrorized, and murdered peasants, workers, students, teachers, priests, and nuns. The truth commission for Guatemala sponsored by the United Nations found the government of that country guilty of genocide. With some exceptions, a compliant national media engaged in self-censorship, even passing on the government inspired lies that held the guerrillas, not the government, responsible for the bulk of the atrocities. This and other evidence suggest that the so-called war on terrorism is a partial war that fails to target the main perpetrators, the state terrorists. The incomplete definition insisted on by Washington shields it from being accused of being a supporter of terrorism. Washington’s support for state terrorist regimes typically has taken the form of training their troops in “counterinsurgency,” now “counter-terrorism,” and by providing funds and loans, military equipment, and diplomatic backing. The study indicates that Washington helped the Saddam Hussein regime and the apartheid regimes in South Africa successfully develop weapons of mass destruction. Saddam used poison against the Kurds and the Iranians. The racists in Pretoria produced six nuclear weapons, which they destroyed, following a request from Washington, before handing over the government to Nelson Mandela. In order to assure the continuing Kuwaiti financing of Saddam’s war of aggression against Iran (1980-1988), the Reagan administration put the American flag on the ships of the sheikdom to protect them from Iran. This administration also became a co-belligerent in Saddam’s “oil war,” sinking half of the Iranian navy. It is arguable that without this aid Saddam would have been defeated and deposed by Iran in 1988. The support for Saddam by the Reagan administration and by that of the elder Bush in its early years puts in perspective Washington’s later moral claims for initiating wars against the dictator.

Book by Frederick H. Gareau

Years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a loosely organized insurgency continues to target American and Coalition soldiers, as well as Iraqi security forces and civilians, with devastating results. In this sobering account of the ongoing violence, Ahmed Hashim, a specialist on Middle Eastern strategic issues and on irregular warfare, reveals the insurgents behind the widespread revolt, their motives, and their tactics. The insurgency, he shows, is not a united movement directed by a leadership with a single ideological vision. Instead, it involves former regime loyalists, Iraqis resentful of foreign occupation, foreign and domestic Islamist extremists, and elements of organized crime. These groups have cooperated with one another in the past and coordinated their attacks; but the alliance between nationalist Iraqi insurgents on the one hand and religious extremists has frayed considerably. The U.S.-led offensive to retake Fallujah in November 2004 and the success of the elections for the Iraqi National Assembly in January 2005 have led more “mainstream” insurgent groups to begin thinking of reinforcing the political arm of their opposition movement and to seek political guarantees for the Sunni Arab community in the new Iraq.Hashim begins by placing the Iraqi revolt in its historical context. He next profiles the various insurgent groups, detailing their origins, aims, and operational and tactical modi operandi. He concludes with an unusually candid assessment of the successes and failures of the Coalition’s counter-insurgency campaign. Looking ahead, Hashim warns that ethnic and sectarian groups may soon be pitted against one another in what will be a fiercely contested fight over who gets what in the new Iraq. Evidence that such a conflict is already developing does not augur well for Iraq’s future stability. Both Iraq and the United States must work hard to ensure that slow but steady success over the insurgency is not overshadowed by growing ethno-sectarian animosities as various groups fight one another for the biggest slice of the political and economic pie. In place of sensational headlines, official triumphalism, and hand-wringing, Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq offers a clear-eyed analysis of the increasingly complex violence that threatens the very future of Iraq.
Book by Ahmed S. Hashim

This unique volume tells the story of the Algerian counterrevolution from the viewpoint of the ordinary foot soldier in the O.A.S. (Organisation Armee Secrete). In a series of interviews with former O.A.S. participants, and using many unpublished documents and personal diaries, Harrison examines the motives of these defenders of French Algeria. Were they criminals, sociopaths, or honorable men more sensitive to their country’s fate than were many of their contemporaries? Harrison poses this question in the book’s introduction and then seeks the answer with an objective eye.

Challenging De Gaulle tells the story of the Algerian counterrevolution from the viewpoint of the ordinary foot soldier in the O.A.S. (Organisation Armee Secrete). In a series of interviews with former O.A.S. participants, and using many unpublished documents and personal diaries, Alexander Harrison examines the motives of these defenders of French Algeria. Were they criminals, sociopaths, or honorable men more sensitive to their country’s fate than were many of their contemporaries? Harrison poses this question in the book’s introduction and then seeks the answer with an objective eye. Students and scholars of twentieth century history, as well as the general reader interested in this fascinating period, will find this volume superb reading.

The book begins with a historical view of French colonization of Algeria, outlining the roots of the counter-revolution. Further chapters discuss the three abortive efforts to grant native Algerians their independence. The O.A.S. emerged in the wake of these defeats. Harrison also examines the evolution of counter-terrorism into a full-fledged coalition, under the O.A.S. label, to challenge DeGaulle. Finally, those who fought give personal accounts of the movement’s defeat.

Book by Alexandr Harrison

When the U.S. military invaded Iraq, it  lacked a common understanding of the problems inherent in counterinsurgency campaigns. It had neither studied them, nor developed doctrine and tactics to deal with them. It is fair to say that in 2003, most Army officers knew more about the U.S. Civil War than they did about counterinsurgency.
The U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual was written to fill that void. The result of unprecedented collaboration among top U.S. military experts, scholars, and practitioners in the field, the manual espouses an approach to combat that emphasizes constant adaptation and learning, the importance of decentralized decision-making, the need to understand local politics and customs, and the key role of intelligence in winning the support of the population. The manual also emphasizes the paradoxical and often counterintuitive nature of counterinsurgency operations: sometimes the more you protect your forces, the less secure you are; sometimes the more force you use, the less effective it is; sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction.
An new introduction by Sarah Sewall, director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, places the manual in critical and historical perspective, explaining the significance and potential impact of this revolutionary challenge to conventional U.S. military doctrine. An attempt by our military to redefine itself in the aftermath of 9/11 and the new world of international terrorism, The U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual will play a vital role in American military campaigns for years to come. The University of Chicago Press will donate a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Fisher House Foundation, a private-public partnership that supports the families of America’s injured servicemen. To learn more about the Fisher House Foundation, visit

Book by Sarah Sewall (Introduction), John A. Nagl (Foreword), David H. Petraeus (Foreword), James F. Amos (Foreword)

The covert, clandestine operations of the Special Air Service Regiment (SAS), from the jungles of Malaya, Borneo and Brunei to the deserts and mountains of the Middle East, have been widely documented. There has always been intense fascination in the SAS, stoked by the regiment’s “closed” organization and secretive activities. But no period of activity has remained more secret than the vital years after the Second World War when the regiment seemingly expired, only to rise miraculously from the dead to fight Communism in the Malaya emergency. Tim Jones’s fascinating history pieces together the evidence to show that while the Malaya emergency re-established the SAS as a unique source of counter-guerilla expertise, the regiment lived on and was covertly involved in the Greek Civil War of 1945-49, a war unmatched in savagery until the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s.

A book by Tim Jones