An Evaluation of Counterinsurgency as a Strategy for Fighting the Long War

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Strategic Studies Institute, 2011 - Counterinsurgency - 28 pages
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The single greatest national security question currently facing the U.S. National Command Authority is how best to counter violent extremism. The National Command Authority has four broad strategies through which it may employ military forces to counter violent extremism: counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, support to insurgency, and antiterrorism. The Long War is anticipated to continue for decades, perhaps generations. Thus, it is imperative to select the best strategy or strategies for employing military forces. Based on historical lessons in combating terrorism, the best strategy is efficient and sustainable and avoids overreacting, acting incompetently, or appearing to be either over reactive or incompetent. Counterinsurgency is neither efficient nor sustainable from a military, economic, or political perspective. It is a high risk strategy because it is a large, highly visible undertaking through which the United States may easily overreact, act incompetently, or be perceived as overreacting or being incompetent. Counterterrorism, support to insurgency, and antiterrorism are each both efficient and sustainable from a military and economic perspective. These three strategies each have inherent political concerns, hazards, or constraints. However it is considerably less likely that the United States will overreact, behave incompetently, or be perceived as overreacting or being incompetent through engaging in one or more of these three strategies than by engaging in counterinsurgency. Support to insurgencies is economically and militarily efficient and sustainable, but it carries substantial political risks. Thus, an overall strategy combining counterterrorism and antiterrorism is the best means of employing military forces to counter violent extremism.

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