Compare and contrast the two counterinsurgency campaigns between the Vietnam War and the War in Alghanistan. Identify three critical factors that led to success or failure on the battlefield as well as the overall importance of tactical success in achieving strategic goals. For the conclusion, synthesize the insights gained from your analysis that soldiers can apply to the Global War on Terrorism.
Compare and Contrast Two Counterinsurgency Campaigns
September 27, 2012
This paper compares the counterinsurgency campaigns in Vietnam and Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency campaigns are necessary when a nation that is conquered militarily refuses to be occupied and controlled. In order to maintain security and control the conquering nation must combat the insurgents. In each campaign, three critical factors can be identified that, if implemented led to success, or if ignored led to failure. Tactical decisions are examined in light of the two campaigns and the information gleaned as a result of these campaigns is applied to the modern day war on terrorism.
Rarely does a defeated populace welcome a forceful occupation of their country. While it is true that some individuals may see an opportunity in a change in the nation's government, there are almost always groups within the conquered nation that will continue to fight long after defeat has been conceded by the government. Indeed, in many situations a majority of the population may be willing to fight against the occupying forces by engaging in guerilla warfare. These members of the defeated country who continue to wage small-scale attacks on the occupying forces are known as insurgents.
The occupying forces have several options when facing insurgents. They can leave the country. They can conduct a scorched earth policy and wipe out insurgents and innocent people together. Or, they can try to win over the general populace while killing as few insurgents as possible. In Vietnam the second option was attempted and this led indirectly to the first option. In Afghanistan though the third option was attempted, the war has dragged on for over ten years and is now the longest war that America has ever been involved in.
Martin van Creveld is a noted Israeli military strategist and an expert in counterinsurgency measures. He compares the counterinsurgency operations of a strong occupying nation against a defeated weaker nation to a fight between an adult and a child. Regardless of whether the child started the fight or is better armed than the adult, the adult faces some severe disadvantages. Because he is an adult he will be perceived as acting unjustly if he harms the child, weak and foolish if he is defeated by the child and will constantly question the morality or ethics of his being engaged in this conflict (van Creveld, 1991).
Creveld states further that, "by definition, a strong counterinsurgent who uses his strength to kill the members of a small, weak organization of insurgents - let alone the civilian population by which it is ...
This paper analyzes the counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and Vietnam. Over 1,700 words of text with citations.