Counterinsurgency

  • Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe's Charlie Company show Ukrainian Marines and National Guard soldiers the proper procedures for clearing a room, September 16, 2014

    Commentary

    It's Getting Harder to Define Military Readiness. Here's What to Do About It.

    Focusing on one type of threat or the other — whether state or non-state in its general nature — is becoming a less tenable option as the United States considers how to assess and improve its military readiness.

    Jul 12, 2016

  • A member of the Peshmerga forces inspects a tunnel used by Islamic State militants in the town of Sinjar, Iraq

    Commentary

    Islamic State May Be Down, but It's Far from Out

    The Islamic State's loss of territory, money, and recruits would seem to demonstrate significant progress by the U.S.-led coalition. But if there is one accepted truism in the battle against the group, it is that its leaders intend to fight to the death to establish an Islamic caliphate.

    May 23, 2016

  • Russian news agencies reported that President Putin said the ceasefire in Syria is a real step towards halting the bloodshed and may become an example of action against terrorism, February 22, 2016

    Commentary

    How to Bog Down Putin in Syria

    The lessons from the nearly 200 insurgencies that have taken place since World War II suggest that Russian aid probably will fail to turn the tide in Syria. The Assad regime still faces serious challenges, not the least of which is a lack of legitimacy among the Syrian people.

    Feb 25, 2016

  • Joint naval special warfare training at Stennis Space Center

    Report

    What Are the Advantages and Risks of Special Warfare?

    Special warfare provides policymakers with an additional option that can help secure U.S. interests and manage risks. It can stabilize a friendly state or destabilize a hostile regime by operating through and with local state or non-state partners, rather than through unilateral U.S. action.

    Feb 23, 2016

  • A civil defence member works at a site after airstrikes by pro-Syrian government forces in the rebel held Douma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, February 14, 2016

    Commentary

    Is a Syria Truce in Putin's Best Interest?

    Moscow remains ambivalent but the West and its Arab partners could improve cease-fire prospects in Syria. They will have to drive the peace process to maintain pressure for political accommodation and also do more to help the rebels they back avert a military imbalance.

    Feb 18, 2016

  • U.S. Special Forces soldiers prepare to leave Haji Aslam village in Khakarez district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 24, 2014

    Report

    A Counterinsurgency Win in Afghanistan?

    The 2015 counterinsurgency (COIN) effort in Afghanistan ranks among the low end of historical COIN winners. The Afghan government and security forces are capable of maintaining the current stalemate with the Taliban. This is the first step on the most promising path to peace: a negotiated settlement.

    Feb 4, 2016

  • Cuba's President Raul Castro stands between Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, a.k.a. Timochenko, in Havana, September 23, 2015, as they agreed to reach a final peace agreement within six months

    Commentary

    Bringing FARC in from the Cold

    The announcement of a preliminary peace accord by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Colombian government is not receiving public support. Most Colombians manifest a strong desire for peace but reject the possibility that crimes committed in the name of revolution should receive amnesty.

    Oct 28, 2015

  • U.S. Army Capt. Kevin Mercer watches an Afghan National Army trainer adjust the sight on an M-16 rifle in Kandahar, Afghanistan, January 23, 2008

    Testimony

    What Works Best When Conducting Security Cooperation?

    U.S. security cooperation aims to help others be better able to deal with problems in their countries and regions. To get the most out of these efforts, it's important to understand when and why security cooperation works, and when and why it doesn't.

    Oct 21, 2015

  • Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul, September 29, 2015

    Commentary

    The Fall of Kunduz and What It Means for the Future of Afghanistan

    After the fall of Kunduz, Afghan officials and their coalition partners need to ask some hard questions about where their efforts have gone wrong and what can be done to recover.

    Oct 7, 2015

  • Afghan security forces sit on top of a vehicle as they patrol outside of Kunduz city, October 1, 2015

    Commentary

    RAND Experts Q&A on the Fighting in Kunduz

    The Taliban has battled its way into the center of Kunduz, with media reports saying it seized control of the northern Afghanistan city at least for a time. A trio of RAND experts offer insights on the situation and its significance.

    Oct 2, 2015

  • Rebel fighters in Syria prepare a mortar to be launched

    Commentary

    How to Lose a Civil War: Lessons for Afghanistan and Syria

    Recently, both Syria and Afghanistan have seen battles that demonstrate anew the potential risks of seeking to defend exposed positions. Syrian leaders seem to have recognized that there are limits to the amount of territory its military can hold. Afghanistan's leaders would be well advised to come to the same conclusion.

    Sep 10, 2015

  • A fighter of the Kurdish People's Protection Units fires an anti-aircraft weapon at Islamic State fighters in Tel Tamer, Syria, February 25, 2015

    Testimony

    Historical Lessons for the Wars in Iraq and Syria

    The wars in Iraq and Syria are deeply intertwined and must thus be dealt with simultaneously. Understanding the factors that brought past insurgencies to an end can provide lessons for how to proceed.

    Apr 30, 2015

  • U.S. Army Sgt. instructing Iraqi soldiers on individual movement techniques during a class at the Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center in 2011

    Commentary

    The Foreign Policy Essay: Hearts, Minds, & ISIL

    Defeating ISIL will not come from “winning hearts and minds” and soft power, nor will it come from a handful of precision airstrikes. It will require hard, bloody ground combat. The United States may not want to admit this, but it is the grim truth nonetheless.

    Oct 13, 2014

  • Shi'ite fighters, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State take part in field training

    Testimony

    Reconciliation May Be the Best and Only Way to Defeat the Islamic State in Iraq

    Addressing root causes of insurgencies and reconciliation have historically proven to be lasting means to defeat insurgent groups. While this approach could be the best way to overcome the Islamic State in Iraq, monumental obstacles make success questionable.

    Sep 17, 2014

  • Members of Kurdish Peshmerga force stand guard at Sulaiman Pek front line, August 31, 2014. Iraqi security forces backed by Shi'ite militias on Sunday broke the two-month siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants.

    Commentary

    A Broad Approach to Countering the Islamic State

    Recent analysis about how to defeat the Islamic State tends to be based on no more than intuition, a general sense of history, or a small number of cases of questionable comparability. A study of 71 historical cases of counterinsurgencies should help provide empirical evidence to this important debate.

    Sep 2, 2014

  • terrorists silhouette

    Journal Article

    Qualitative Comparative Analysis of 30 Insurgencies, 1978-2008

    Using Charles Ragin's Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to quantitatively test the performance of 20 distinct counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches against the historical record, this article provides useful recommendations for US engagement in and support for COIN operations.

    Jan 1, 2012

  • Journal Article

    Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Evidence of Effective Approaches to Counterinsurgency, 1978-2008

    Good COIN practices tend to "run in packs" and the balance of selected good and bad practices predicts insurgency outcomes.

    Jan 17, 2011

  • Journal Article

    Evidentiary Validation of FM 3-24: Counterinsurgency Worldwide, 1978-2008

    Discusses the demonstrated efficacy of the COIN principles embodied in FM 3-24, historical evicence and data collected from 30 case studies for recent resolved insurgencies. The vast majority of governments and COIN forces that adhered to multiple tenets of the field manual prevailed over the insurgencies they opposed.

    Jan 1, 2011

  • Journal Article

    US Military Doctrine and Counterinsurgency

    Counterinsurgency has re-emerged as an urgent priority for the U.S. armed forces.

    Jan 1, 2004

  • Content

    Elizabeth M. Bartels

    Assistant Policy Analyst; Ph.D. Candidate, Pardee RAND Graduate School
    Education M.S. in political science, MIT; B.A. in political science, University of Chicago