In The New Counterinsurgency Era, David Ucko examines DoD’s institutional obstacles and initially slow response to a changing strategic reality. Ucko also suggests how the military can better prepare for the unique challenges of modern warfare, where it is charged with everything from providing security to supporting reconstruction to establishing basic governance—all while stabilizing conquered territory and engaging with local populations. After briefly surveying the history of American counterinsurgency operations, Ucko focuses on measures the military has taken since 2001 to relearn old lessons about counterinsurgency, to improve its ability to conduct stability operations, to change the institutional bias against counterinsurgency, and to account for successes gained from the learning process.
Given the effectiveness of insurgent tactics, the frequency of operations aimed at building local capacity, and the danger of ungoverned spaces acting as havens for hostile groups, the military must acquire new skills to confront irregular threats in future wars. Ucko clearly shows that the opportunity to come to grips with counterinsurgency is matched in magnitude only by the cost of failing to do so.
David H. Ucko is an associate professor at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA), at the National Defense University in Washington DC, and an adjunct fellow at the Department of War Studies, King's College London.
Drawing on eight case studies, the definition of ‘armed groups’ here ranges from militias, paramilitary forces, police units of various kinds to intelligence outfits. Likewise, the definition of ‘political integration’ or ‘re-integration’ has not been restricted to the formation of political parties, but is understood broadly as active participation in politics, policy-making or public debate through parties, newspapers, social organisations, think-tanks, NGOs or public service.
The book seeks to locate or contextualise individual cases within their distinctive social, cultural and historical settings. As such it differs from much of the donor-driven literature that has tended to abstract the challenge of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) from their political and historical context, focusing instead on technical or bureaucratic issues raised by the DDR process. Among the issues covered by the volume as a whole, three stand out: first, the role of political settlements in creating legitimate opportunities for erstwhile leaders of armed factions; second, the ability of reintegration programmes to create genuine socio-economic opportunities that can absorb former fighters as functional members of their communities; and third, the processes involved in transforming an entire rebel movement into a viable political party, movement or, more generally, allowing it to participate in political life.
This book will be of great interest to students of security and development, peace and conflict studies, and IR in general, as well as practitioners and policymakers.
Mats Berdal is Professor of Security and Development in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. From 2000 to 2003 he was Director of Studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London. Mats Berdal is a Visiting Professor at the National Defence and Command College, Oslo.
David Ucko is the Programme Coordinator & Research Fellow for the Conflict, Security & Development Research Group, King's College London.