The Future of Insurgency

Published In: Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, v. 36, no. 1, 2013, p. 1-25

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2013

by Seth G. Jones, Patrick B. Johnston

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What are key historical trends in insurgencies? And what do these finding suggest about the future of insurgency? We examine four aspects: causes of insurgency, outside support, strategies, and tactics. Based on an examination of quantitative and qualitative data, we make several arguments about the future. China could become increasingly involved in supporting insurgencies and counterinsurgencies if its economic and military power continues to increase and its global interest expands. In addition, insurgent groups will likely require less time to achieve high levels of sophistication for improvised explosive devices and other asymmetric tactics, which we expect they will use against more powerful mechanized counterinsurgent forces. We also expect that insurgent groups may take advantage of commercially-available technology to communicate, distribute propaganda, and recruit individuals. In addition, insurgents will likely make further use of encryption, anonymizing services, location-masking tools, and other related technologies to protect their online activities.

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