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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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