Counterinsurgency Intelligence in a ''Long War''

The British Experience in Northern Ireland

by Brian A. Jackson

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Using the example of British intelligence successes and failures in the fight against the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the author shows that counterintelligence collection efforts must diverge significantly from “classical” collection methods. For low-grade intelligence, British soldiers collected intelligence and relied on others and on public opinion. The British also deployed teams trained in close observation of individuals and developed a number of flexible technical tools, such as listening devices and hidden cameras. Northern Ireland provides many examples of organizations making the transition from seeking quick victory to waging long-term operations. For security organizations, adopting a long-war approach entails shifting from decisive to patient operations and understanding how security efforts contribute to or detract from political and other efforts against an insurgency.

Reprinted with permission from Military Review, January-February 2007, pp. 74-85.

Originally published in: Military Review, January-February 2007, pp. 74-85.

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