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Abstract

Freedom of movement (FoM) is the actual or perceived degree to which individuals or groups can move from place to place within a given environment or into and out of that environment. FoM is clearly an important consideration in the development of counterinsurgency tactics, operations, and strategies, but it is addressed infrequently and inconsistently in the doctrine and literature on counterinsurgency. A consistent, comprehensive definition of FoM must take into account the range of complexities and challenges posed by the operating environment, as well as the practical reality that FoM means something different to different groups. Focusing specifically on Afghanistan, this examination considers actual and perceived FoM for civilians, coalition and Afghan security forces, government officials, nongovernmental organizations, and insurgents and profiles the factors that influence these groups and affect data reporting in potentially misleading ways. It also serves as a guide for a bottom-up approach to developing sustainable FoM assessment processes that consider the range of variables that can enable and inhibit actual freedom to move and that can affect the subsequent analysis of FoM data. A historical and global review of a sample of the FoM assessment literature and interviews with assessment experts also clarify best practices and gaps in knowledge and capability that assessment staffs could address.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    How the Concept of Freedom of Movement Can Inform Assessment

  • Chapter Three

    Analysis of Past and Current Theory and Practice

  • Chapter Four

    Recommendations

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

This report is part of the RAND Corporation technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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