1st Edition

Rethinking Western Approaches to Counterinsurgency Lessons From Post-Colonial Conflict

By Russell W. Glenn Copyright 2015
    330 Pages
    by Routledge

    330 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book critically examines the Western approach to counter-insurgency in the post-colonial era and offers a series of recommendations to address current shortfalls.

    The author argues that current approaches to countering insurgency rely too heavily on conflicts from the post-World War II years of waning colonialism. Campaigns conducted over half a century ago – Malaya, Aden, and Kenya among them – remain primary sources on which the United States, British, Australian, and other militaries build their guidance for dealing with insurgent threats, this though both the character of those threats and the conflict environment are significantly different than was the case in those earlier years. This book addresses the resulting inconsistencies by offering insights, analysis, and recommendations drawn from campaigns more applicable to counter-insurgency today.

    Eight post-colonial conflicts; to include Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Colombia and Iraq; provide the basis for analysis. All are examples in which counterinsurgents attained or continue to demonstrate considerable progress when taking on enterprises better known for disaster and disappointment. Recommendations resulting from these analyses challenge entrenched beliefs to serve as the impetus for essential change.

    Rethinking Western Approaches to Counterinsurgency will be of much interest to students of counter-insurgencies, military and strategic studies, security studies and IR in general.

    1. Introduction 2. Applying the Iron Fist in Chechnya and Sri Lanka 3. Twice Successful, Still Challenged: Insurgency in 21st-Century Southern Philippines 4. Counterinsurgency at Home: Perseverance in Northern Ireland 5 Counterinsurgency Lessons from a Civil War: Sierra Leone 6. Interdicting Insurgency: Applying a Comprehensive Approach in the Solomon Islands 7. Taking on Criminal Insurgency: Colombian Success against the FARC 8. The Operational Oil Spot and Rise of the Militias: COIN in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province 9. Further Contemplation on Revised Beliefs 10. Additional Recommendations and Concluding Thoughts


    Russell W. Glenn is Senior Lecturer in military operations and national security studies at The Australian National University, Canberra. He has a PhD in American History from the University of Kansas.

    'Russell Glenn, one of the most original thinkers and diligent researchers on Counterinsurgency, has done us an enormous favour. Recognizing the limits of a theory based solely on the canon of mid-20thcentury cases like Malaya and Algeria, he gives a much-needed corrective, analyzing modern variations of insurgency, and the range of innovative responses to it. This insightful book should be required reading for all students and practitioners of this complex and constantly-evolving form of war.' -- David J. Kilcullen, Counterinsurgency advisor to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan

    'With conflict and chaos in much of North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, the need to understand counterinsurgency is as great as ever. COIN isn’t dead; we just need to do it better. Russ Glenn’s pioneering new book outlines lessons from eight recent – and little known – insurgencies. It is essential reading.' - Nicholas P. Warner, Director-General, Australian Secret Intelligence Service

    'Insurgency is changing in shape and form; to counter it successfully, we must adapt accordingly. This book is a timely, thought-provoking and critical examination of our current approaches to counterinsurgency, challenging many widely-held tenets. A `must read` for practitioners. It will probably find its way on to the insurgents` reading list, too.' -- Sir John P. Kiszely, former Director of the UK Defence Academy and Senior British Military Representative and Deputy Commanding General, Multinational Force, Iraq

    'A comprehensive, thoughtful analysis of the evolution of the theory and practice of counterinsurgency operations – with superb case studies and well-considered conclusions that should be studied carefully by any student or practitioner of COIN.' -- General David H. Petraeus (US Army, Retired)

    'Rethinking Western Approaches to Counterinsurgency is an innovative and meticulously researched look at the distinctions of modern counterinsurgency. Its contents prompt the reader to muse upon the nature of both insurgencies and counterinsurgencies. The case studies are authoritative, well written, and integrated with each other. Together with the methodology shown in these chapters, the themes that Glenn has brought out provide a basis by which one can scrutinize post-colonial counterinsurgency and develop a fulsome understanding. This book would be invaluable to any who have an interest in contemporary conflict studies and counterinsurgency.' -- Howard G. Coombs, The Canadian Army Journal

    '...the book's scope is impressive...Summing Up: Recommended.' -- S. Cantey, Washington and Lee University CHOICE