The Future of Insurgency

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

Posted on on January 01, 2013

by Seth G. Jones, Patrick B. Johnston

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

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.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.