Counterinsurgency Campaigns


This paper considers counterinsurgency; its definition, factors affecting success or failure of counterinsurgency, and compares and contrasts two counterinsurgency campaigns. Several books and journals were used in this research. Counterinsurgency is the act of combating therefore suppressing rebel forces in order to protect the ruling authority. It can either be a success or a failure depending on strategies that are put in a place to oversee the process. Practices such as proper and strategic planning of the war, assist from close allies and the usage of superior weapon can be used to ensure that the process of counterinsurgency will led to success (Hashim, 2008). Other factors such as not-acquaintance with the terrain, the use of guerrilla tactics and limited funding and supplies to the armed forces fighting the rebels can lead to the failure of counterinsurgency. There are various challenges that face counterinsurgency. These challenges include the high cost of fighting the rebels or rather the insurgents, difficult terrain, and tactics used such as guerrilla warfare. As stated earlier, these factors may lead to failure in counterinsurgency. These tactics can also be used to curb terrorism. In the recent past, terrorist formed groups that cause disturbance. Therefore, it is important to use these tactics in counterterrorism act.


Numerous studies have been done to address issues concerning counterinsurgency. These studies seek to address issues such as factors affecting success or failure of counterinsurgency, strategies applied in counterinsurgency and challenges facing soldiers fighting the insurgents. Ian, Beckett, & Pimlott (1985) defined counterinsurgency as the act or the process of combating rebels seeking to devastate the powers of the documented authority. This paper agrees with this defination and goes further to show factors leading to success or failure of counterinsurgency, challenges facing soldiers fighting the rebels and compares and contrasts different kinds of counterinsurgency. The paper considers the World war I, America Civil War and Vietnam war.

Literature Review

A counterinsurgency process involves measures undertaken by the documented government of a state to curb or suppress a rebellion against it. Usually, the rebels seek out to devastate or wipe out the political power of the defending establishment in a population they want to control. On the other hand, the counterinsurgent forces seek out to defend their power and decrease or get rid of the displacing power of the rebels (Ian, Beckett, & Pimlott, 1985).

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Counterinsurgency processes are mostly experienced in times of armed revolts, wars or during a period of occupation. They may well be armed containment of a insurgence, tied with strategies such as divide and rule, intended to break the associations between the rebellion and the inhabitants in which the rebels move. Because it may be easier said than done or impracticable to differentiate between a rebel, an enthusiast of an insurgency who is not involved in the actual war, and completely straightforward members of the population, counterinsurgency processes have often rested on a perplexed, relativistic, or even situational difference between rebels and non-combatants (Ian, Beckett, & Pimlott, 1985).

Counterinsurgency Campaign 1: World War I

America joined the First World War without full preparation to deal with the war. Since, its upsurge was slow, the forces ordered for a million men. However, congress replied that it could gather 420,000 by spring of 1918. Ian, Beckett, & Pimlott (1985) assert that the probable profusion of military provisions from America never happened. For the better part of the battle, the air force fought with equipment supplied to them by the partners; including the characteristic helmet supplied by the British. American forces experienced their first action in May, 1918.


In September, an all-out attack was ordered in the Saint-Mihiel region of Eastern France. There were a lot of fatalities but the assault forced Germans to retreat hence putting the German military on the run. The High Command of the Germans started to break in the face of the unrelenting allied attack. Although success, the casualties of the World War I were very high. More so, America spent a lot of money funding the World War I hence negatively affecting the country’s economy in a major way.

During the war, various weapons were used to combat the enemies.  The trenches and rifles were mainly used by the British. These rifles could fire fifteen rounds in a minute killing a person within a range of 1.4 kilometers. Machine guns and field guns were also used in the war. At least 12 men were required to operate field guns and machine guns. Additionally, gas was used in the battle. The most commonly used gas was chlorine and mustard gas. The Germans used the Zeppelin or blimp during the war while the Zeppelin carried machine guns and bombs (Fleming, 2009). However, the Zeppelin was abandoned because they were easy to aim at and shoot even from the sky. It was during the World War I that tanks were used. They were developed to cope with the western font condition. Planes were also used for the first time in World War I. Initially this machinery was used to spy on the enemy and deliver bombs. However they were later used in bombing and air fights. More so, the Germans’ strategy was more sophisticated in that they used torpedoes for destruction of ships ferrying weapons destined to Britain from America.

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In 1861, decades of simmering anxiety between the southern and northern United States of America over matters including westward expansion, federal authority versus states' rights and slavery blew up into the American Civil War. The appointment of Abraham Lincoln, the anti-slavery Republican, as president made seven southern states to withdraw from the Union to give rise to the associate States of America. Some extra for states joined the union after civil war began. During the war, even some neighbors fought one another same to brothers. In 1865 the Confederate surrendered. By the time it got to an end, the Civil War proved to be the most expensive war ever fought on the American land, with about 620,000 of 2.4 million defense forces killed. Millions more were injured and and the South regions were overwhelmed with the inhabitants.

The Dilemma That Confronts Soldiers Waging Counter-Insurgency

According to Fleming (2009), there are many challenges that faced soldiers waging war against insurgency. These challenges made it difficult for the soldiers to suppress rebellion. For starters, it was quite expensive to wage war against insurgents. This led to financial constraints on the state’s budget therefore affecting the economy negatively. In addition, the terrain caused difficulty in combating the rebels. More so, the rebels used tactics that made it difficult for the soldiers to fight against them. Some of the tactics include guerrilla war.

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The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War lasted between 1962 -1975. This was the primary key battle that concerned US ground forces. La Drang saw about 96 of American military killed and more than 100 injured at X-Ray and 155 murdered and 124 injured at Albany. The Vietnam War implemented theClausewitz’s principle. Clausewitz’s informative point is that the Trinitarian model gives advice to the commander to follow a war strategy that ensures a balance of the triangular association amid the government, people and army. Additionally, the model points out how to uphold this indefinable balance in a best way. This model brings out superiority in terms of military might (Fleming, 2009). The Vietnam War also led to various changes in NCO corps. The major impact of the war to NCO corps is that it led to radical changes which led to professionalism in NCO corps.

Similarities and differences

According to Hashim (2008), there were similarities and difference in two counter insurgencies mentioned in this write up. World War I is similar to Vietnam War that in both cases superior weapons were used against the insurgents. However, the two wars also differed that in World War I America had allies like the British whereas in the Vietnam War they fought alone.

Similarly, the two parties involved in wars spend so much money that ended up affecting the economies in one way or the other. Hashim (2008) argues that war is a very expensive exercise that needs huge supply of financial and human resources. However, unlike the World War, the Civil War was a war against the states of America as opposed to the World War which was against other country(s).

Why Counterinsurgency Campaign 1 Was a Success

The findings of this research suggested that counterinsurgency which involved the World War I and the American Civil War was a success. It became possible due to the following:

  • Use of superior weapons
  • Superior and strategic planning of the war
  • In the case of World War I, assistance from allies came in handy

Why Counterinsurgency Campaign 2 Was a Failure

The findings of this paper suggested that the Vietnam War was a failure due to the following factors:

  • Long distance supply line was inefficient and costly (Fleming, 2009).
  • The terrain was easy to defend and hostile to invasion. The terrain was well known to the NVA and Vietcong hence they were combating on home turf.
  • The Vietnamese army used Guerrilla Tactics to beat the American soldiers.


Counterinsurgency campaigns can either be successful or a failure depending on what an army puts into consideration. Things such as strategic war plans, assistance from allies and the usage of superior weapon are very significant determinants of the success of a counterinsurgency campaign. The same strategies can be applied in counter-terrorism to ensure success. When allies join forces to fight terrorism, the chances of winning the war is much higher than when every country is left to fight on its own.

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