Six reasons why insurgencies lose
July 7, 2009
very interesting article with plenty of field cases, via the always excellent Small Wars Journal
Insurgencies generally lose, not win. The Dupuy Institute, using a database for an ongoing
research project that includes 63 post-World War II insurgencies, found that the insurgents only
win 41% of the time.1
- Insurgencies generally lose, not win. The Dupuy Institute, using a database for an ongoing research project that includes 63 post-World War II insurgencies, found that the insurgents only win 41% of the time.
- Insurgencies generally lack the resources to provide infrastructure improvements that better the lives of the people, the support of whom is the main battleground in insurgency warfare. For example, in 1970, during the Dhofar rebellion (1962-1976), the Sultan of Oman realized that he could not coerce the disaffected tribes into supporting him, but, by building schools, hospitals, wells, etc., he could provide something the insurgents could not, thus convincing them to support the regime.
- Insurgencies become fragmented over time (religious, cultural or ideological fragmentation) – The Iraqi insurgency that erupted in 2003 has been enormously fragmented, perhaps more so than any other in history. It is more accurate to refer to it as a number of insurgencies. A Congressional Research Service report, now obsolete, lists eight different groups under just one Sunni umbrella organization. GlobalSecurity.org indentified at least 30 groups at one point in 2005. Ahmed S. Hashim, in his 2006 book Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq, identified 19 different groups and discussed their constant shifting, merging, and splitting 20 apart.
- Insurgents are not always welcome guests. They live off the people and from the people, which means they take from the people. Moreover, insurgencies are generally run by elites that have different ideas and agendas from the soldiers filling their ranks and the non-combatants that support them. The result is that sometimes the leaders and the people fighting under them or supporting them have different goals. Plus, occasionally, insurgents push ideas that are simply not attractive to many of the people they are trying to win over, alienating segments of the population.