Counterinsurgency, often referred to as COIN by the U.S. armed forces, refers to the attempt by a government to maintain its legitimacy against an armed uprising of a part of the populace.
Counterinsurgency, often referred to as COIN by the U.S. armed forces, refers to the attempt by a government to maintain its legitimacy against an armed uprising of a part of the populace. The insurgents may receive external support as well. The government may utilize military, political, economic, and civic actions in the pursuit of preserving itself in power. The single most significant factor in the effort to maintain political control by government when facing an insurgency is retaining the loyalty of the populace at large. Many of the conflicts fought throughout recorded history possess characteristics that serve to qualify them, partially at least, as counterinsurgencies.
An appreciation of counterinsurgency is significant to a broader understanding of warfare in all periods. Many conflicts over the course of history possessed a counterinsurgency component. At the same time, this aspect of warfare is very often overlooked, as much attention is focused on the insurgency dimension and not the manner in which these uprisings are subdued. Likewise, this is the direction toward which many current military theorists see warfare heading in the twenty-first century, with a great emphasis placed on nonstate actors that seek to undermine the legitimacy of established governments.
Among the earliest counterinsurgencies in the ancient period was that of the
The approaches utilized by the Romans for putting down rebellions failed to be effective in the long run. Many provinces of the empire rose in rebellion on several occasions. One method of counterinsurgency practiced in both the ancient and medieval periods was that of constructing fortifications at strategically significant points. This method met with only limited success.
During the medieval period in European history, probably the best-documented counterinsurgency is that of
Among the counterinsurgency campaigns that receive the most attention at the start of the modern period is the fighting in the southern states of the United States during the
The government of revolutionary France faced a number of internal challenges while simultaneously fighting many of its European neighbors. The most persistent of these came from the northern region known as the
During the Napoleonic Wars, there were several revolts against the emperor’s control. The most famous of these was the revolt in Spain that began
In the early nineteenth century, the
The next counterinsurgency operation worthy of note took place in the late nineteenth century, in 1898; the United States went to war with Spain in what has become know as the
The comte de La Rochejaquelein leads a group of peasants during the Wars of the Vendée.
The aftermath of World War II brought on another series of insurgency and counterinsurgency operations as the Europeans’ colonial empires were dismantled through wars of national liberation. The most successful counterinsurgency operation of this period was that of the British in Malaya, referred to as the
Aspery, Robert B. War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History. New York: William Morrow, 1975. Considered a classic in the field of insurgency and counterinsurgency warfare. Ellis, John. A Short History of Guerrilla Warfare. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1976. A short but useful work that provides much information in a condensed format. Galula, David. Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. London: Praeger, 1964. A classic work that is based on the author’s own experiences in several insurgencies in Greece, China, and Algeria. Linn, Brian M. The Philippine War, 1899-1902. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002. An excellent treatment of the Philippine insurgency that examines it in great detail. Lynn, John A. “Patterns of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency.” Military Review 85, no. 4 (July/August, 2005): 22-27. An excellent brief introduction to the subject. McCuen, John J. The Art of Counter-revolutionary War. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Hailer, 2005. This study encompasses a solid discussion of the theory and practice of counterinsurgency warfare. Metz, Steven, and Raymond Millen. Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the Twenty-first Century: Reconceptualizing Threat and Response. Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: U.S. Army War College, 2004. Places the war on terror in historical context. Sepp, Kavlev I. “Best Practices in Counterinsurgency.” Military Review 85, no. 3 (May/June, 2005): 8-12. As the title states, the work provides a clear discussion of the most effective techniques for dealing with insurgencies. Taber, Robert. War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare. Dulles, Va.: Potomac Books, 2002. Looks at counterinsurgency from the insurgents’ perspective, describing their strengths and how these can be overcome. Trinquier, Roger. Modern Warfare: A French View of Counter-Insurgency. New York: Praeger, 1964. Based on French experiences, this work advocates unrestrained methods for disrupting insurgencies.
Civilian Labor and Warfare
Education, Textbooks, and War
The Press and War
Revolt, Rebellion, and Insurgency
War’s Impact on Economies
Women, Children, and War