Magazine article National Defense

Irregular Warfare: Counterinsurgency in Iraq Provides Template for Fighting Terrorism

Magazine article National Defense

Irregular Warfare: Counterinsurgency in Iraq Provides Template for Fighting Terrorism

Article excerpt

The anti-insurgency tactics the U.S. military is learning in Iraq could be applied globally, which would turn the war on terrorism into a "war on insurgency," said Lt. Gen. William Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and war fighting support.

"My position is that this is a global insurgency," said Boykin during a forum on special operations and low intensity conflict.

In Iraq and other trouble spots, the United States has to come to grips with the nature of the enemy, he explained. "It is a web of networks that come together in a coalition of convenience. There are links to drug trafficking, money laundering and the like," he said.

An insurgency is a political-military activity, in which the political aspects are much more important than the military aspects, explained a Defense Department official who did not want to be quoted by name. "Understanding the political, economic, financial, legal and cultural issues, is at the core of understanding what is going on," the official said.

The resulting approach means that "we must run a global counterinsurgency if we accept what the war on terror actually is," said James Roberts, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combating terrorism.

The strength and, in many ways, the unpredictability of the insurgency the United States encountered in Iraq, is prompting the Defense Department to accord "stability and security" operations the same priority as combat operations, said Jeffrey "Jeb" Nadaner, deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations. "You have to think about what you can do in terms of stability on the ground immediately," and make sure that stability operations are part of the campaign plan from the onset, Nadaner said during a workshop at the conference.

To do that, the Defense Department realizes it has to work closely with both the State and Justice Departments and put their experiences to use in these campaigns, he said.

The department has to think about creating military-civilian teams and stress an interagency model, Nadaner pointed out. Depending on the nature of the stability operation, the makeup of the teams could be more military or more civilian, he suggested.

Congress needs to understand the connection between funding the civilian agencies such as the Agency for International Development and the military. "Funding AID is critical for the military, because AID needs to have funds to do its work in the field, because it is not good enough to have its presence. Somebody needs to have the funds to dig the wells and start the schools," Nadaner said.

The State Department has established what Nadaner calls a heavyweight counterpart to the Defense Department, a new office of stabilization and reconstruction. "The idea behind the office is to be the civilian focal point for these operations for the whole government," he explained. "We are doing a couple of things at the Defense Department to help that office move."

The Pentagon is detailing its own personnel to the organization to help with planning and to give its officials the chance to go to military schools. "We are looking for opportunities in operational planning and we are looking to bring them into our exercises and make them full partners," he said.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department is restructuring its approach and rationale to security assistance abroad. "We realized that the world has a shortage of trained peacekeepers," Nadaner said. "The first country that everyone looks to in time of crisis is the United States," he said. But the United States has its own limitations and already is stretched thin, he added. "There are many countries that want to participate in peacekeeping, too."

Thus, a new program that is called the global peace operations initiative is intent on increasing the number of peacekeepers to 100,000 during the next several years. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.