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Abstract

Insurgency has been the most prevalent form of armed conflict since at least 1949, as well as the subject of countless historical and contemporary studies. Contemporary discourse on the subject is voluminous and often contentious, and to date there has been a dearth of actual evidence in support of the counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches, practices, and tenets that make for successful operations. A collection of the 30 most recent resolved insurgencies, covering the period 1978 to 2008 and a bank of 76 factors and approaches that helped or hindered the COIN force in each case and in each phase of each case supplement an analysis of historical and contemporary insurgencies, providing valuable lessons for U.S. engagement in and support for COIN operations. The cases are also broken down by phase, allowing an analysis of the progress of the COIN force on its way to victory or defeat. Each case includes a scorecard to associate these factors with the overall case outcome. A companion volume, Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency, describes the qualitative comparative approach, presents findings from the overall analyses, and explains the study's case selection and methodology. It also presents an overview and in-depth assessments of the key tenets, practices, and factors that feature prominently in successful COIN operations.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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