Problems of Mobilization and the Analysis of Armed Groups   [open pdf - 78KB]

"The first step in knowing your enemy is deciding what to call him. When dealing with non-state, armed groups, there is a set list of categories which are used for classification. These categories include insurgent, guerilla, warlord, terrorist, and militia. From this initial classification we tend to apply a set of assumptions about the groups for our analysis and response. For instance, if we believe we are fighting a guerilla insurgency, we ask where the popular support is coming from; or if it is a terrorist group, we apply counter-terror tactics. The danger in this approach is that poor classification and analysis may lead to an improper response. At best, this may be ineffective; at worst, it can be catastrophic. For instance, the Ugandan government began by treating the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) as a guerilla insurgency, and this led to standard strategies such as creating protected hamlets in order to distance the group from local support. However, the LRA had never had much local support, nor did it really need it. Thus, the protected hamlet strategy has not reduced the LRA's ability to continue the conflict and has served only to further alienate the affected population from the Ugandan government. If the LRA was better classified and analyzed, the Ugandan army's response might have been more effective."

Public Domain
Retrieved From:
U.S. Army War College, Parameters: http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/
Media Type:
Parameters: United States Army War College Quarterly (Spring 2006), v.36 no.1, p.49-62
Help with citations