In the context of a world beset by a huge and destabilizing rich-poor divide, the leaders of the wealthiest and most powerful nations habitually fail to understand the continuing relevance of insurgency. (5)

Main Points:

Contemporary insurgency: (4)

-        Essentially a political process.

-        The techniques of an insurgency evolve with the societies from which it arises.

-        Organizing an insurgency is an act of desperation, a course of action only taken when all other avenues of advance have been blocked.

-        An insurgency has to involve the population; its energy, its ability to sustain itself and to continuously replace and regenerate its losses, arises from popular support.

Mao had rejected the classic guerrilla wilderness and adapted himself to survive and campaign in a populated farmland. His strength and his major asset was no longer the possession of territory, but the possession of a population. (17)

Mao’s operational campaign was therefore pervasive, it deployed at every level, physically in the form of military action, subversively in the introduction of revolutionary structures within the community, and psychologically by holding out the prospect of a brighter future. (19)

Maoist Insurgency: (20)

-        Insurgency was the expedient of the weaker side.

-        Could involve at least two distinct populations.

-        Importance of ideology.

-        Insurgent’s close relationship to the environment.

-        Exploiting this human terrain required an overwhelming sense of grievance to manipulate.

-        The tactic by which the response of the adversary became the key factor in the subversion process.

4 Changes had been altering the operational space in favor of the insurgent: (29)

-        Transport technology – small entrepreneurs could now take carry away large quantities of a state’s resources (30)

-        Proliferation of information and communications technology – The freedom of access, the surge of ideas and information could not be controlled and laws preventing the circulation of subversive material were impossible to enforce. Regardless of geography and political constraints, new ideas now took much less time to reach an optimum audience. (31)  The media-marketing age made it both possible and credible to mobilize a dispersed and disaffected population.  The news value of an act of violence now outweighed its tactical value and this was altering the definition of insurgency. (58)

-        Deregulation of the international economy – widened the gap between rich and poor (32)

-        Consequences of exposure to foreign cultures – The pressures of rural unemployment, environmental damage to their homelands and climate change spurred migration to the cities, where perceptions of greater opportunity for survival were seldom fulfilled. (33)

3 broad categories of insurgents: (38)

-        Feral Militias: underemployed and unemployable, the sub-class devoid of social structure (38)

-        Popular Insurgents: Maoist type (40)

-        Global Insurgents: Bin Laden’s methodology had to be regarded as a crucially important consequence of global change and possibly even the leading edge of a new chapter of insurgent techniques.  Cellular structures and the constant need to cultivate popular support. Separated by their global, as opposed to national, ambitions; their international following; and their horizontal, organically grown communicating structures… It possessed no territory, building its constituency from a global community of followers; its strength and energy arising from a collective sense of outrage and the localized activism of its protagonists. (41)

Studying an insurgent group’s environment and capabilities provided a far more useful structure through which to frame counter-insurgent responses. (42)

Counter-insurgency counter-intuitive approach: if they wanted to take the initiative they had to remove the steam from the insurgent cause by making good the perceived grievances in a more persuasive manner themselves (44).  Manipulate the attitudes of the population living in the grey area (134).

By contrast, counter-insurgency, like incest, was sordid private affair that spoke of a dysfunctional community. (45)

British experience boiled down to principles: (49)

-        Politics had to take priority with military supporting

-        An operational structure had to be created to execute the plan

-        An uprising following a people’s war strategy could not be countered by military attrition alone

-        When the population was successfully engaged and subverted by insurgency, there was a point after which no lawful counter-strategy was likely to prevail

-        Tactical level conduct was crucial

-        Low-level tactics and procedures for counter-insurgency were in principle much the same for each operation

-        Intelligence-led operations vs. “send the bullet and not the man”

-        Persuade the population back to the government side

-        I + POP > SF + GOV

Terrorism vs. Insurgency: If a group had a political strategy, attracted public support and demonstrated that it had a serious regenerative dimension, then they were more than terrorists… In this case, the government had to do a lot more than lock them up or shoot them – it had to reverse the effect of the adversary’s political engagement with the people. (71)


Post-Maoist Insurgency (Global Insurgency):

-        Guerrilla tactics have been replaced with propaganda of the deed (POTD) (80), The incitement of an animated or potentially violent audience through dramatic actions, rather than words (124, 161). This population requires certain characteristics: (125)

o   A mutually perceived grievance

o   Ability to communicate within itself and to the world beyond

o   An expectation of violence

o   The deed that triggered off these expectations had to be visible, dramatic and ignite the emotions of the prepared audience

o   Explained by audience, narrative, and outcome (129)

-        Population now includes a multitude of dispersed populations redefined by mass communications and therefore has no center of gravity that can be overwhelmed, protected, or managed by either side. (81, 161)

o   Host State (145)

o   Frontline State

o   Concerned Populations

o   Intervening Populations

-        Information anarchy favors the insurgents (95)

-        Nations have become deterritorialized, social networks reaching around the world with virtual communities which exist only on the Internet. (149, 161)

-        Long-term objectives which seem to have an unrealistic or intangible character (161)

4 main consequences of multiple populations and mass communications: (96)

-        Communications allowed the insurgent to develop the global movement

-        Growing number of actors involved in the counter-insurgency made a coherent global strategy almost impossible

-        Growing torrent of information was uncontrollable and promoted visibility of the insurgent’s actions in the eyes of their supporters

-        The campaign center of gravity had shifted from the national to the international level

Propaganda (130)

2 responses: expeditionary (US) and domestic (Europe) (169)

Counter-Maoist approach using Expeditionary Response: (178)

-        Secure the territory specified with a view of destroying or capturing the assets of the globalized insurgency based in that area

-        Subdue the national political elements and their forces which had previously created a favorable environment for these insurgents and their facilities to exist

-        Restore the monopoly of violence within the state into the hands of an interim administration

-        In the long-term, help to create the political and social conditions within the state for an elected government to be established

The expeditions of GWOT had addressed the mosquitoes but not the swamp; in Europe the processes of subversion and activism were being intensified not reduced by the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. (190)