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War On Terrorism

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Autor: 24  •  March 18, 2011  •  7,768 Words (32 Pages)  •  1,028 Views

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Potential U.S. allies in counterinsurgencies linked to al-Qa'ida frequently suffer from four categories of structural problems: illegitimate (and often repressive) regimes; civil-military tension

manifested by fears of a coup; economic backwardness; and discriminatory societies. Because of these problems, allies often stray far from the counterinsurgency (COIN) ideal, both militarily

and politically. Their security service culture often is characterized by poor intelligence; a lack of initiative; little integration of forces

across units; soldiers who do not want to fight; bad leadership; and problems with training, learning, and creativity. In addition, the structural weaknesses have a direct political effect that can aid an insurgency by hindering the development and implementation of a national strategy, fostering poor relations with outside powers that might otherwise assist the COIN effort (such as the United States),encouraging widespread corruption, alienating the security forces from the overall population, and offering the insurgents opportunities

to penetrate the security forces.Washington must recognize that its allies, including those in the

security forces, are often the source of the problem as well as the heart of any solution. The author argues that the ally's structural problems and distinct interests have daunting implications for

successful U.S. counterinsurgency efforts. The nature of regimes and of societies feeds an insurgency, but the United States is often

hostage to its narrow goals with regard to counterinsurgency and thus becomes complicit in the host-nation's self-defeating behavior.

Unfortunately, U.S. influence often is limited as the allies recognize that America's vital interests with regard to fighting al-Qa'ida-linked

groups are likely to outweigh any temporary disgust or anger at an ally's brutality or failure to institute reforms. Training, military-tomilitary

contacts, education programs, and other efforts to shape their COIN capabilities are beneficial, but the effects are likely to be limited at best.


Throughout the 1980s, the United States poured money into El Salvador to check communist expansion in Central America. Although at that time the Salvador conflict was the costliest U.S. military effort since Vietnam, at the end of the decade the United

States found itself spinning its wheels. Despite almost a decade of training, aid, and high-level pushes for reform, the Salvadoran security forces still suffered basic flaws such as a mediocre and

disengaged officer corps, widespread corruption, a poor promotion system, and conscripts who did not want to fight. These weaknesses were only part of a broader problem. The security forces perpetrated

or supported blatant and brutal oppression such as the killing of moderate political opponents and human rights organization and church officials, including priests and nuns. The security forces also

were strong voices against much-needed economic, political, and social reforms that, had they been implemented, would have hindered the insurgents' ability to recruit and operate. Not surprisingly, as

the decade ended, U.S. military officials concluded that an outright military victory over the communist insurgents was unlikely and that a political settlement was required. In his landmark study of El Salvador, Benjamin Schwartz found that the problem was not that the United States was fighting the

wrong war or otherwise repeating Vietnam-era mistakes of using conventional military power to fight an unconventional war. Rather, Schwartz found the United States did not understand its own allies.

El Salvador's military mirrored the country as a whole, complete with the same fractures, weaknesses, and pathologies. Indeed, U.S. attempts to initiate reform often failed because they relied on the

Salvadoran military and government even though they had interests quite distinct from the U.S. agenda.the El Salvador experience should be of interest to policymakers today as well as to historians, since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States not only ushered in a new era of

counterterrorism, they also forced the return of the counterinsurgency era.The global effort against al-Qa'ida has meant, in part, invading Afghanistan and wrapping up cells around the globe. However, it

also has required closer ties with a number of governments involved in fighting Islamist insurgents that, to different degrees, have ties to al-Qa'ida. Since the attacks, the United States has forged closer relations with Algeria, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and other countries fighting insurgent groups that have relations with the global Sunni jihad that al-Qa'ida champions. This shift toward counterinsurgency is a concern, as the U.S. record on fighting insurgencies in a third country historically has

been poor. The Philippines appears to have been a real but difficult success, and operations in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban

have gone better than many anticipated. Nevertheless, the overall track record of the United States is better characterized by frustration

than by victory.Successful counterinsurgency (COIN) relies heavily on allies' paramilitary, military, intelligence, and other security forces.

In different countries these forces comprise a startling range of capabilities and sizes. The particular force-type mix varies by the

country in question, the level of the insurgency, and the regime's level of trust in the various bodies in question.

This monograph focuses heavily on military and paramilitary forces, as intelligence

and police units typically (though not always) take the lead before the insurgency is full-blown. The term "security forces" is used as a

broad term to encompass a range of units that fight insurgents. According to various works on counterinsurgency, in theory security forces play several key roles. First, they establish government

control and eliminate insurgent combatants. Second, they secure an area so political and other reforms can be carried out.Allies' security forces are also vital in part for political reasons at home. The American people naturally prefer that others fight and die in their stead, particularly


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