A counterinsurgency can take years to defeat by doctrine standards. The timeline for troops to be pulled out may seem to be getting closer but with more troops heading to Iraq, the DOD is focusing on fighting counterinsurgencies for years to come. With the recent release of the Counter Insurgence manual on Dec 15th, for both Army and Marine service members can now be even more prepared to take the fight to the insurgency more so than ever before. Read the article below
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dec. 15, 2006
The Army and Marine Corps announce the release of the Counterinsurgency Field Manual
Fort Leavenworth, KS and Quantico, VA –The United States Army and the United States Marine Corps today released a new counterinsurgency field manual, FM 3-24/ MCWP 3-33.5. The manual, authored by a team of Army and Marine Corps writers, is designed to fill a doctrinal gap, as it has been 20 years since the Army and 25 years since the Marine Corps last published doctrine on the subject (though an interim manual was published two years ago). With the United States engaged in counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines, it is essential that Soldiers and Marines have a manual that provides principles and guidelines for these kinds of operations. This manual—grounded in historical studies and informed by contemporary experiences—fills that need.
The new manual pursues a general approach to counterinsurgency, not one aimed specifically at any of the ongoing operations. It provides a broad overview of insurgencies through history to the present time, noting that every insurgency has a unique context and its own set of challenges. One cannot deal with former Saddamists or Islamic extremists the same way one would have fought the Viet Cong, the Moros, or the Tupamaros. Nonetheless, even today’s highly adaptable insurgencies remain wars amongst the people, employ variations of standard themes, and adhere to some elements of a recognizable campaign plan. The manual therefore addresses the common characteristics of insurgencies and takes into account issues of religion, ethnicity, and tribal relationships, examining these factors as motivations for the insurgencies the United States confronts today. Additionally, it discusses the impact of contemporary developments such as suicide bombers, urbanization, and new information technologies.
Aimed at commanders and staffs at the battalion level and above, the new manual strives to provide those who will carry out a counterinsurgency campaign a solid foundation on which to build. One of the primary emphases of the manual is the importance of learning counterinsurgency and ensuring that our forces are part of learning institutions that continually evaluate the circumstances of a particular campaign and adapt their actions to defeat the adversaries they face. Leaders at all levels must adjust their approach constantly, ensuring that their units are ready each day not just to kill or capture insurgents, but also to be nation builders as well as warriors, to help re-establish institutions and local security forces, to assist in the rebuilding of infrastructure and basic services, and to facilitate the establishment of local governance and the rule of law.
The manual notes that while the purpose of our Army and our Marine Corps is to fight, our ground forces have, throughout our history, been called on to perform additional tasks, particularly during counterinsurgency operations. As described in the manual, counterinsurgency operations are a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations, conducted along multiple lines of operation. The new manual explains that Soldiers and Marines conducting counterinsurgency operations thus need to be prepared to carry out a mix of both familiar combat tasks and tasks that are more often associated with nonmilitary agencies, with the focus varying depending on the local situation. Those on the ground must thus be ready, each day, to be greeted with a hand grenade or a handshake, and to respond appropriately to each. Success, of necessity, therefore requires extensive coordination and cooperation with a myriad of intergovernmental, international, and host nation agencies, and the manual underscores the importance of unity of effort by all engaged in a counterinsurgency campaign. The manual also alerts Soldiers and Marines to the many challenges of such endeavors and suggests general approaches for grappling with those challenges wherever they may have to operate.
Finally, the manual makes clear that conducting a successful counterinsurgency campaign requires a flexible, adaptive force—one that can both fight and build—led by agile, competent, culturally astute leaders. As the guidelines and discussions provided in the manual explain, counterinsurgency operations, inevitably, are exceedingly difficult and complex; indeed, they represent the “graduate level of warfare.”
The materiel included in the Counterinsurgency manual will be used to educate Army and Marine Corps leaders, to prepare for future operations, and to inform other U.S. government agencies and our allies on the intricacies of countering this aspect of irregular war.