Gathering of Human Intelligence in Counter-Insurgency Warfare: The French Experience During the Battle of Algiers (January - October 1957)   [open pdf - 1MB]

From the thesis abstract: "If in a short-term perspective the battle of Algiers was an operational success since the terrorist attacks ended by the of fall 1957, the different methods used to gather intelligence proved to be strategically counterproductive and left an open wound on the French Society. [...] Facing an invisible enemy who could be everywhere and did not hesitate to resort to asymmetrical resources to terrorize the population, the French regular forces felt a feeling of frustration. Being unable to find and fix the opponents naturally led to the temptation of extracting the pertinent information from prisoners. In such a context, the 'ticking-time bomb' paradigm became easy justification for all the excesses committed. Many lessons have to be drawn from the French experience in Algeria and the hexagonal volunteer amnesia is a societal cancer that still prevents France from developing a consistent COIN [counterinsurgency] theory. The major take-away from the Battle of Algiers is certainly at the essence of the subsequent paradox: winning the battle of Algiers precipitated the loss of Algeria. [...] The excesses of force are strategically counterproductive: gathering intelligence through brutal methods eventually increases the enemy's source of power. It resulted in an increase of enemy local and international legitimacy and weakened French determination."

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