Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Economic Development in Counterinsurgency: Building a Stable Second Pillar

Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Economic Development in Counterinsurgency: Building a Stable Second Pillar

Article excerpt

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The future of U.S. participation in counterinsurgency (COIN) is uncertain, but not so the probability that future adversaries will avoid U.S. conventional military dominance by using asymmetric, unconventional methods. As COIN theorist David Kilcullen warns, "Any smart future enemy will likely sidestep our unprecedented superiority in traditional, force-on-force, state-on-state warfare. And so insurgency ... will be our enemies' weapon of choice until we prove we can master it." (1) Unfortunately, because no two insurgencies are exactly alike, mastering COIN will be a perpetual endeavor.

At its core, a counterinsurgency is a battle for government legitimacy in the minds of its people. (2) Writing in 1963, David Galula summarized the insurgent aim: "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." (3) One of the chief ways insurgents attain popular support is by capitalizing on government ineffectiveness. In fact, government illegitimacy is considered by many COIN strategists as the "root cause of and the central strategic problem in today's unstable global-security environment." (4) Counterinsurgents, then, must have as their primary objective the creation of a government that derives legitimacy from its ability to provide its population with effective security, responsive governance, and sufficient economic development. (5) In fact, Kilcullen considers the security, political, and economic mission elements to be co-equal "pillars" in his Inter-agency Counterinsurgency Framework. (6)

Due to the complexities of COIN, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps collaborated in 2006 to provide their forces with "a manual that provides principles and guidelines for counterinsurgency operations." (7) Recognizing "that every insurgency is contextual," the authors set out to highlight the "common characteristics of insurgencies" to provide military implementers of COIN "a solid foundation for understanding and addressing specific insurgencies." (8) Along with security, the manual concedes the criticality of governance and economic development to COIN success, and acknowledges that military members must work closely with "many intergovernmental, host-nation, and international agencies" to capitalize on skills such as "rebuilding infrastructure and basic services" and to facilitate the establishment of "local governance and rule of law." (9) Moreover, it advocates synchronizing these three mission elements and unifying "efforts of joint, interagency, multinational, and Host Nation (HN) forces toward a common purpose." (10)

While military forces have a legitimate role in each of the mission elements, their primary expertise lies in providing a secure environment so that political and economic development can occur. To this end, the chapter titled "Executing Counterinsurgency Operations" advocates using a "Clear-Hold-Build" approach for "specific, high-priority area[s] experiencing overt insurgent operations" in order to "create a secure physical and psychological environment; establish firm government control of the populace and area; and gain the populace's support." (11) Since publication of the military COIN guidance, many observers believe the strategy has been expanded to include a preliminary "Shape" phase (intelligence preparation of the battlefield, interagency planning, and so forth) and a concluding "Transfer" phase (bulk U.S. force withdrawal, primary responsibility shifts to HN security forces, and so forth). (12) Whether the military's "Shape, Clear, Hold, Build, and Transfer" model is correct, it provides a useful framework that political and economic development experts can use to integrate their actions with their security colleagues. …

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