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January 28, 2009
Julian Assange (Investigative Editor, Wikileaks)

United Kingdom and United States counter/insurgency policies contrasted by our cartoonist Aska Doliniska

Restricted insurgency and counterinsurgency source materials recently released by Wikileaks. Documents reported so far are noted. All material has been verified.



Wikileaks has released thousands of pages of active insurgency and counterinsurgency doctrine from the US, UK and Indian military.

The policies will be of particular interest to journalists and academics from, or specializing in, South America, Africa, Central Asia, Iraq and Kashmir.

The release includes several counterinsurgency doctrines (more traditionally called "Foreign Internal Defense") which detail how to overtly or covertly supress insurgencies or popular revolts as well as the reverse, insurgency doctrines--how to infiltrate a country, and stoke an insurgency to overthrow a foreign government, commit sabotage and subversion, economic and financial warfare as well as "nonconsensual abductions" and the wearing of enemy uniforms in violation of the Geneva conventions.

Articles in the New York Times and Foreign Policy magazine this week show manoeving by counterinsurgency specialists from the Center for a New American Security and elsewhere to define an expanded role for the US forces, and of course themselves, in Afghanistan. Indeed Obama has selected CNAS co-founder Michele Flournoy, a former Clinton Whitehouse staffer, to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

The Wikileaks release provides a partial antitote to the shaping of public attitudes by US Gen. Petraeus and others which journalists have uncritically relayed the last two years. Journalists should remember that documents designed to be public, such as the so-called "Petraeus doctrine" published by Chicago University Press in 2007, and publicly promoted by the Pentagon, are sanitized and should be preferentially ignored least journalists find themselves pushing propaganda onto an unsuspecting public.

Example quotes from the Wikileaks material (in this case US Special Forces doctrines).

"[T]he psychological effectiveness of the CSDF [paramilitary] concept starts by reversing the insurgent strategy of making the government the repressor. It forces the insurgents to cross a critical threshold-that of attacking and killing the very class of people they are supposed to be liberating."

"The United States reserves the right to engage in nonconsensual [extra-territorial] abductions for three specific reasons..."

"Checkpoints, searches, roadblocks; surveillance, censorship, and press control; and restriction of activity that applies to selected groups (labor unions, political groups and the like) are further PRC [Population and Resource Control] measures"

"U.S. policy states that the enemy's uniform may be used for infiltration behind enemy lines. However, Article 39 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions prohibits this and other uses of the "The agent controlling the creation, flow, and access "stores of value" wields power. Although finance is generally an operation of real and virtual currency, anything that can serve as a "medium of exchange" povides those who accept the medium with a method of financial transaction. For both reasons, ARSOF understand that they can and should exploit the active and analytical capabilities existing in the financial instrument of U.S. power in the conduct of UW [Unconventional Warfare]."

"In addition to intelligence and policy changes that may provide active incentive or disincentive leverage, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has a long history of conducting economic warfare valuable to any ARSOF UW [Unconventional Warfare] campaign."

"Like all other instruments of U.S. national power, the use and effects of economic "weapons" are interrelated and they must be coordinated carefully. Once again, ARSOF must work carefully with the DOS and intelligence community (IC) to determine which elements of the human terrain in the UWOA are most susceptible to economic engagement and what second- and third-order effects are likely from such engagement. The United States Agency for International Development's (USAID's) placement abroad and its mission to engage human groups provide one channel for leveraging economic incentives. The DOC's can similarly leverage its routine influence with U.S. corporations active abroad. Moreover, the IO effects of economic promises kept (or ignored) can prove critical to the legitimacy of U.S. UW efforts. UW practitioners must plan for these effects.)"

"Actors engaged in supporting elements in the UWOA may rely on criminal activities, such as smuggling, narcotics, or human trafficking. Political and military adversaries in the UWOA will exhibit the same sensitivity to official exposure and engagement because criminal entities routinely seek to avoid law enforcement. Sometimes, political and military adversaries are simultaneously criminal adversaries, which ARSOF UW planners must consider a threat. At other times, the methods and networks of real or perceived criminal entities can be useful as supporting elements of a U.S.-sponsored UW effort. In either case, ARSOF understand the importance of coordinating military intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) for specific UW campaigns with the routine intelligence activities conducted by U.S. law enforcement agencies."

"There is more SF [Special Forces] participation in developing and advising underground [and auxiliary] elements than is widely understood or acknowledged. Most such participation is classified and inappropriate for inclusion in this manual."

"The advisors helped the El Salvadoran military become more professional and better organized, while advising in the conduct of pacification and counterguerrilla operations. Advisors were also present at the brigade levels assisting in operations and intelligence activities. From 1985 to 1992, just over 140 SF [Special Forces] officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) served as advisors to a 40-battalion army. From a poorly staffed and led force of 8,000 soldiers in 1980, SF trainers created a hard-hitting COIN force of 54,000 by 1986. U.S. forces supported U.S. interests by creating an effective COIN force that fought the guerrillas to a standstill and established the groundwork for a negotiated settlement by 1991. "

"An important legal aspect of a noninternational conflict is that captured combatants do not enjoy the rights of PWs [Prisoners of War]. They may be prosecuted as criminals under the laws of the HN [Host Nation]. The fact that an insurgent follows the rules of war or is in uniform will not give him PW status under international law."

"Special Forces Exception E-15. The Comptroller General has acknowledged that SF Soldiers have a mission to train foreign forces. SF may train a foreign military force to test their ability to accomplish their mission. The primary goal or benefit must be to test SF training capabilities. Title 10 has been amended expressly to authorize the use of O&M funds to finance SF training with foreign forces (10 USC 2011). This training is permissible as long as it is not comparable to or intended as SA training; that is, the training must be conducted as an SF team and not be long-term. "

Source documents

Core doctrine

Supporting review and projection

Significant supporting doctrine

Catalyzed analysis and reportage

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