Additional Reading on Irregular Warfare

Setting Fire to Your Own House; Crisis in the Kasai: The Manipulation of Customary Power and the Instrumentalization of Disorder

By Jason Stearns, Congo Research Group, July 31, 2018

Unlike conflicts in eastern DRC where regional actors support non-state armed groups, the Kamuina Nsapu crisis in the Kasai region is a domestic insurgency that results from both the central government’s neglect and its manipulation of traditional clan affairs. The government’s response to the crisis has been heavy-handed—the result of Congolese officials seeking to gain favor with Kinshasa—and has minimized the possibility of a peaceful solution. Efforts at demobilization of combatants and prosecution of abuses by the Congolese military have been non-existent, a further sign of the perceived neglect by the state that helped spur the conflict. The politicization of the conflict along ethnic lines is a troubling sign ahead of elections scheduled for December 2018.

Asymmetric Warfare: Reflections on the Responses of Security Forces to Boko Haram Insurgency in Northern Nigeria

By Osumah Oarhe, Ambrose Alli University, Nigeria, in the Africa Peace and Conflict Journal, June 30, 2015

The Nigerian government has undertaken a range of actions to combat Boko Haram’s asymmetric insurgency in the country’s northeast: roadblocks, raids, surveillance, patrols, and deradicalization. Nearly all have followed an enemy-centric rather than population-centric approach, despite the fact that many of the factors constraining success are tied directly to the security forces’ operational capacity. For instance, poor coordination, inability to effectively deliver appropriated funds and equipment, enemy penetration, and porous borders all hindered successful counter-enemy actions. However, if Nigeria had instead emphasized a population-centric approach to counterinsurgency, it is possible that such efforts would not have faced as many headwinds.

Armed Non-State Actors and Displacement in Armed Conflict

By Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces & Geneva Call, December 31, 2012

Armed nonstate actors, be they insurgents, vigilantes, or criminal groups, are a common challenge in many African countries. Despite being illegal and clandestine, such groups often develop a mutual dependency with communities and civilians for security or economic relations. This has broadened strategies to manage these threats. Inclusive approaches spearheaded by non-military actors to instill respect for basic norms of combat and human rights within state and nonstate forces alike are valuable parts of comprehensive efforts to mitigate irregular conflict and improve prospects for demobilization.

Optimizing Africa’s Security Force Structures

By Helmoed Heitman, May 31, 2011

When a country becomes host to an insurgency, a prospect many African states face, what counterinsurgency approaches offer the best chance of prevailing? There are roughly 20 approaches that are commonly employed, including amnesties, strategic communication, or rigorous suppressive operations. An analysis of 30 insurgencies finds that successful strategies tend to employ multiple approaches and favor those that enhance the legitimacy of the government and security forces. Reliance on repressive measures more often led to failure.

Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Evidence of Effective Approaches to Counterinsurgency, 1978–2008

By Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, and Beth Grill, Small Wars Journal, January 31, 2011

When a country becomes host to an insurgency, a prospect many African states face, what counterinsurgency approaches offer the best chance of prevailing? There are roughly 20 approaches that are commonly employed, including amnesties, strategic communication, or rigorous suppressive operations. An analysis of 30 insurgencies finds that successful strategies tend to employ multiple approaches and favor those that enhance the legitimacy of the government and security forces. Reliance on repressive measures more often led to failure.

Militias, Rebels, and Islamist Militants: Human Security and State Crises in Africa

By Wafula Okumu and Augustine Ikelegbe (eds.), Institute for Security Studies, November 17, 2010

Armed nonstate groups able to cultivate disillusionment with existing regimes and successfully evade defense forces increasingly dominate the threat landscape across Africa. Such groups in Nigeria, Sudan, Angola, and elsewhere indicate a need for better policies to reverse emergent violent youth cultures, monitor transborder areas, and population-centric security and governance strategies.

Why Uganda Has Failed to Defeat the Lord’s Resistance Army

By Robert L. Feldman. Defense and Security Analysis, 2008

A devastating insurgency against the Ugandan government and people is now well into its third decade. How has the battle between the relatively small and under-equipped Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces continued so long? Several causes for this surprising persistence may lie in the very structures and strategies of the LRA and UPDF as well as the irregular tactics used by both groups.

Are Africa’s Wars Part of a Fourth Generation of Warfare?

by Paul Jackson, Contemporary Security Policy, August 31, 2007

Kiwanja refugee campFourth Generation Warfare (4GW) – models of asymmetric warfare that emphasize culture, politics, economics, non-state actors, and targeting of civilians – has a growing applicability for understanding Africa’s complex conflicts. In particular, 4GW frameworks underscore the need for comprehensive, as opposed to purely military, solutions to conflict on the continent.

Counterinsurgency Field Manual (FM 3-24)

Department of the Army, 2006

The “paradigm-setting” revision of U.S. military doctrine published based on the fundamental premise that the key to counterinsurgency operations is protecting civilians. This document is the main reference work informing modern U.S. military operations.

African Militaries and Rebellion: The Political Economy of Threat and Combat Effectiveness

By Jeffrey Herbst, Journal of Peace Research, 2004

Few African armies have shown an aptitude for counter-insurgency strategies. Instead, respones to rebellions are delayed, rely on blunt military strikes and exclude vital political strategies to complement security operations. Competent police forces and domestic intelligence agencies rather than expansion of the military will better enhance counter-insurgency capabilities in Africa’s democracies.

Security Topics:  Irregular and Asymmetric Warfare