How to Analyze an Insurgency or

This appendix provides guidance for the analysis of an insurgency or counterinsurgency. It contains general questions which the analyst must ask. The questions address conditions in a whole society. The answers are not simple and the list of questions may not be complete. A study based on this guide could fill several volumes.

The military analyst must analyze such a situation in detail. He must understand the nature of this complex conflict to determine effective courses of action. His analysis must consider the following factors:

The analyst must identify the principal factors for each of these broad areas; he must study each in turn. Finally, he must weigh and compare the factors in each area and reach conclusions. These conclusions lead to development of courses of action. The analyst then predicts the potential effects of each possible course of action, and selects the best one.

This guide for analysis is more than just a simple checklist. Each area and factor requires detailed study. The process is time-consuming and may require additional expertise.


Mission analysis requires a concise, yet broad, description of the end state to be achieved. The analyst must consider all constraints and restrictions affecting mission achievement. Among these are materiel and human resource constraints, as well as the demands of politically active groups in the society. The analysis uses assumptions in the absence of facts and replaces them with the facts when they become available.


Social Organization

1. Identify social groups; for example, race, religion, national origin, tribe, economic class, political party, ideology, education level, union memberships, management class, armed forces, occupation, or age.

2. Identify overlaps among classes and the splits within them. Do union members belong to one or a few religious or racial groups? Are there ideological divisions within a profession?

3. Identify composite groups based on their political behavior; for example, those which actively or passively support the government or the insurgent or those which are neutral. Determine the component and composite strength of each.

4. Identify active or potential issues motivating the political behavior of each subgroup and group; for example, desire for economic benefits, social prestige, political participation, perception of relative deprivation. Determine population growth or decline, age distribution, changes in location by groups.

analysis Determine programs which might accommodate the goals of a plurality of the politically active groups. Are these programs within the value systems of the insurgency or counterinsurgency?

conclusion. The analyst must determine which groups and composite groups might be motivated to support his position. He should determine which groups might be politically neutralized and identify programs acceptable to him which might mobilize these groups.

Economic Organization and Performance

1. Identify the principal economic ideology governing the society; for example, communist, socialist, capitalist, or a mix of these. Determine local innovations and departures from this ideology.

2. Evaluate the economic infrastructure; for example, fuel and mineral resource locations; electricity production and distribution; rail, highway, and other transport facilities; and postal, telephone, telegraph, and other communication networks.

3. Evaluate economic performance; for example, gross national product, gross domestic product, foreign trade balance, per capita income, inflation rate, and annual growth rate.

4. Evaluate the performance of productive segments of the society; for example, agriculture, manufacturing, information, service, transportation, mining, and forestry. Determine ownership patterns in each. Public or private? Concentrated or dispersed?

5. Evaluate public health factors; for example, birth and death rates, nutrition, water supply, sanitation, and the availability of health care. Identify endemic diseases.

6. Identify foreign trade patterns; for example, domestic and foreign indebtedness (both public and private) and resource dependencies.

7. Determine the availability of education; for example, its accessibility to individuals and groups, and its sufficiency for national needs. Consider scientific, technical, professional, and liberal education and crafts training. Identify surpluses and shortages of skills in the society.

8. Identify unemployment, underemployment, and exclusion of groups from employment. Identify career mobility, both horizontal and vertical.

9. Identify taxing authorities, tax rates, and how they are determined.

10. Evaluate the distribution of economic benefits, occurrence of poverty, and concentration of wealth.

11. Identify population shifts; for example, rural-to-urban or manufacturing-to-service. Determine their causes and effects.

analysis Correlate the economic factors with social groups and subgroups. Determine which groups are favorably and unfavorably affected by each economic factor. Identify the economic motives and goals of group behavior.

conclusions. The analyst must identify economic programs-consistent with his values and resources-which might generate favorable support, stabilize neutral groups, or neutralize hostile groups.

Political Organization and Dynamics

1. Determine the formal political structure of the government.

2. Identify the informal structure and compare the two; ask, for example, whether the government is a dictatorship with only superficial democratic characteristics.

3. Identify legal and illegal political parties. What determines their legal status? Do they have reasonable prospects to accede to office? What is the program of each? Quantify the strength of each. Which might unite in coalitions?

4. Identify nonparty political organizations; for example, political action groups. What issues motivate them? Assess the strength of each organization. Which political parties do they support? Does the government regulate these organizations?

5. Identify nonpolitical interest groups; for example, churches, cultural and professional organizations, and unions. Do they have interests corresponding to parties or to nonparty political organizations?

6. Identify the mechanism for government succession. Are government offices inherited? Does government function by exercise of power or consensus of a ruling class or oligarchy? Are elections held regularly? Are the results honored? What are the requirements to vote? Does the electoral process systematically exclude any groups? Determine which groups, if any, vote as a bloc. Does a patron-client relationship determine bloc voting?

7. Determine if the judiciary is independent.

8. Determine if government or any other group controls the press. What alternatives exist for dissemination of information and opinion?

9. Determine if decision making is over-centralized. Determine whether individuals and groups can make important decisions for themselves. Determine whether government agents at the state or local level can make important decisions. Can individuals and groups make their voices heard in policy-making councils?

10. Determine the administrative competence of the bureaucracy. Are politicians and civil servants self-serving or corrupt?

analysis Correlate political groups with economic and social groups. Determine which subgroups have joined together to form significant political forces. Are they favorable or unfavorable to the insurgency or are they neutral? Identify the political issues motivating the behavior of subgroups and groups.

conclusion. The analyst must identify political programs which fall within his value limits. He must ask which programs might neutralize opposing groups or mobilize support from neutral groups? He should identify groups which can combine to produce a plurality favorable to the analyst's position.

History of the Society

1. Determine the origin of the incumbent government. Does it have a long history? Was it elected? Have there been multiple peaceful successions of government? Did the government originate in violence? If so, was it by popular revolution or coup d'etat?

2. Determine the history of political violence; for example, is violence a common means to resolve political problems? Is there precedent for revolution, coups d'etat, or assassination? Does the country have a history of consensus building? What is the frequency of violent crime?

3. Does the present insurgency have causes and aspirations in common with historic political violence?

Analysis. Determine the legitimacy of the government. Estimate how acceptable violent remedies to political problems are among the people.

conclusion. The analyst must determine the type and level of violence required by the insurgent or counterinsurgent. He should determine the type and level of violence the opponents are likely to employ. He should identify groups or subgroups which will support the use of violence and those which will oppose it.


1. Determine the density and distribution of population by groups. What is the balance between the urban and rural populations? Are there sparsely populated areas? Are primary racial, linguistic, or similar groups concentrated in specific areas?

2. Identify distinct geographic regions; for example, mountains, forests, plains, deserts, swamps, and coastal lowlands. What are their effects on economic and social development?

3. Identify natural and manmade aids and obstacles to mobility; for example, rivers, canals, lakes, roads, railroads, mountains, forests, and urban areas. What are their effects on economic development? What are their effects on political and social integration?

4. What are the effects of aids and obstacles to mobility on tactical operations? Is heavy equipment road bound? Are special units required (for example, airmobile, riverine, amphibious, mountain units)? What special equipment and tactics can overcome geographic limitations? How can off-road mobility be enhanced? Are electronic communications masked? How can cover and concealment be used to advantage?

5. Identify climate types by area and season. What are the effects of extreme heat cold, rain, snow, blowing dust, and sand on tactical operations? What are their effects on mobility? And air operations? Do the seasons dictate the timing of operations? How can weather restrictions be used to advantage? How can weather obstacles be overcome?

Analysis. How does the environment affect development programs? Are some economic dependencies a result of the weather and terrain? What are the effects of weather and terrain on the organization, equipment, and doctrine of the security forces?

conclusions. Are development and security programs appropriate to the environment? What changes need to be made in plans, organization, and doctrine?



1. What is the desired end state of the insurgency? Is it clearly formulated? Is it openly articulated?

2. Do all elements of the insurgency share a common view?

3. Is the desired end state different from that publicly advocated?

4. How does the insurgency's view of desired social organization differ from that of the government?

Analysis. Identify groups and subgroups which support the general objectives of the insurgency, as stated publicly or privately. Identify factions, minority views, and dissensions within the insurgency regarding all or parts of its general program. Identify groups which the insurgency may have misled or deceived concerning its end-state objectives. Make a similar analysis of groups and subgroups supporting the government.

Conclusions. The analyst should identify objectives of groups supporting the government and those supporting the insurgency. He must determine which of these objectives he can accommodate within his value system as part of a preemptive strategy. He should devise programs to attract groups away from the enemy into neutrality or into support for the analyst's position.

Organizational and Operational Patterns

1. Determine the organizational and operational patterns used by the insurgency (see Chapter 2 . Identify variations or combinations of the basic models of organization and operation employed. Determine whether the insurgency has previously shifted from one pattern to another or is likely to do so in the future. Determine the balance between urban- and rural-based centers of insurgency. Does one have primacy over the other?

2. Determine the stage or phase of the insurgency. Has it progressed through successive stages? Has it regressed to an earlier or simpler stage? Is the insurgency capable of moving forward or backward from stage to stage?

3. Is the insurgency employing a united front? With what group? What are their common interests and areas of disagreement?

Analysis. Determine the organizational and operational pattern employed by the insurgency. Identify leadership, environmental, and geographical factors in the selection of one pattern over another. Identify elements within the insurgency which disagree with the model being used. Determine the ability and propensity of the insurgency to adopt different organizational and operational patterns.

conclusion. The analyst must identify resource, leadership, and environmental conditions and requirements which will best enable the insurgency to accomplish its goals. He must determine whether the insurgents need to change organizational and operational patterns, how they should do this, and how the government can prevent or limit their freedom to do so. The analyst must identify conditions which will permit the insurgency to advance to a higher phase or stage. He must determine which factors will force the insurgency to regress to an earlier or simpler stage.


1. Who are the leaders of the insurgency? Is there a single, dominant charismatic leader?

2. Are the leaders highly dedicated to an ideology?

3. Are the leaders committed to a specific organizational and operational pattern? Identify differences of opinion among leaders as to purpose and method.

4. What is the relationship between the leaders and the combat elements? Do the leaders participate directly in violence?

5. Determine the decision-making process in the insurgency leadership. Are decisions made by a dictator, by consensus, or by democratic participation?

Analysis. Identify divisions within the leadership. Determine whether rigid commitment to a method constitutes vulnerability. Correlate the leadership's goals and methods with the preferences of major societal groups. Will the leadership's methods enhance social mobilization?

conclusion. The analyst must determine the political and physical strengths and weaknesses of the insurgency s leadership, and how an opponent could exploit weaknesses to destroy or discredit it. Conversely, he must determine how the insurgents exploit the government's weaknesses in order to build their strength.


1. What are the short-range and long-range tactical objectives of the insurgents? Are they designed to apply force decisively at the areas of government weaknesses?

2. Identify the insurgents' primary targets; for example, government organization, security forces, or economic infrastructure.

3. Identify military tactical doctrine, order of battle, training, morale, and discipline of the insurgents' regular and part-time combat forces.

4. Do the insurgent's tactics make effective use of the terrain and the political environment? What is their attitude toward the use of terror? How do they use it?

5. Identify the insurgents' materiel resources and determine how they can overcome the limitations of these resources.

Analysis. How can the insurgents develop locally superior combat power? How can the insurgents overcome the government's superior firepower and mobility? What intelligence sources and methods does each side use?

conclusion. The analyst must determine how the insurgents can use terrain, offensive actions, surprise, and cross-country mobility to develop locally superior combat power. He must identify areas of government and insurgent weakness. He must determine the political effect of insurgent combat tactics and government countertactics. He must develop courses of action which will optimize the political-military coercive power of the analyst's side. He must consider the government's superior mechanized mobility, firepower, air power, and numerical strength.

External Support

1. Identify the sources of external support for the government or the insurgency; for example, countries, blocs, or nonstate entities (including international organizations, ideological groups, religions, terrorist groups, cultural, social, linguistic groups).

2. Determine the extent and effectiveness of moral or political support. How and by whom is it articulated? What media are used? What are the effects of moral and political support?

3. Identify the sources and amounts of foreign economic support. How is money made available; for example, through foreign banks or "laundering"? Is economic support overt or covert? Does it originate with public or private sources? What constraints does the supporting entity require? Do they hinder the government or the insurgent's operations?

4. Identify sanctuaries for insurgent forces, for logistical activities, and for political and propaganda work. How can sanctuaries be denied? Consider the possibilities of political action (boycott, information or propaganda operations). Consider military action (attack, isolation, interdiction). Identify the land, sea, and air routes to and from sanctuaries.

5. Identify materiel support; for example, weapons, equipment, supplies, and services provided.

6. Identify advisory assistance as well as CS, and CSS assistance.

analysis Determine the dependency of the government and the insurgency on external support. What would be the effect of reduction or elimination of this support?

conclusions. The analyst must develop plans for the reduction or elimination of external moral or political support, economic support, or military and materiel support. Conversely, he should determine the means for increasing such support.


National Strategy

1. Has the government established a general plan for counterinsurgency? Does the plan address political, social, and economic issues? Does it correctly define the issues? Does it consider all social and political groups and subgroups?

2. Determine the government's organization and methods for strategic planning and execution of its program. Identify areas of strength and weakness. Identify resource requirements and constraints. Has the government established realistic priorities?

analysis Determine the effect of the government plan on specific groups and subgroups. Which will the government's plan mobilize? How can an opponent prevent mobilization? Which groups or subgroups are not likely to be satisfied by the plan? How can the insurgents mobilize them? What is the effect of mobilization by the government or by the insurgents on the political balance?

conclusions. The analyst must identify the means by which the government can mobilize a favorable political balance through combinations of coercive measures and progressive political, social, and economic development. Conversely, he should determine what insurgent actions might tip the balance in its favor.

Coercive Measures

1. Identify the government's use of populace and resources control. How does it affect each social group? How can the insurgents turn adverse effects to their own advantage?

2. Determine the organization, equipment, and tactical doctrine of government security forces. Are they sufficient? Are they appropriate to the environment? Are they appropriate to the nature of the conflict?

3. What is the effect of government military operations on each group within the population? Does the government effectively limit collateral damage to people and property?

4. Does the government maintain the initiative? Can it identify, locate, and attack key insurgent personnel, installations, and military forces? How does the government protect installations and the populace? What is the effect of protective measures on the government's ability to take the offensive? Do the people provide intelligence to the government and deny it to the insurgents?

analysis The analyst must balance the beneficial effects of coercive measures against the harm they may do to friendly or neutral groups.

He must determine the favorable balance between government firepower and mobility and its logistical support and modern LOC. Does government firepower cause civilian injury and death, thereby undermining popular support? Are government weapons and vehicles restricted to roads?

conclusions. The analyst must develop plans for populace and resources control which will not cost him popular support. How does the government provide security for the populace without losing the initiative?

He must devise tactics to employ superior firepower without debilitating dependence on logistical support. He must ask how the insurgents can employ surprise, deception, and restrictive terrain to overcome government firepower, armor protection, and air power. He must determine how the government can seize the initiative to overcome insurgent guerrilla tactics.

Balanced Development

1. Determine prioritized economic programs to mobilize support within key subgroups and groups. Determine which groups, if mobilized, will tip the balance of forces. Identify each group's perception of its economic standing. To what extent will groups tolerate the postponement of economic programs? How can the government or an insurgency make economic benefits contingent on supportive behavior by affected groups?

2. Establish feedback mechanisms to determine group reaction to programs. How can decision-making be decentralized without loss of direction?

3. Determine social imbalances. Identify the affected groups. Develop programs to correct these imbalances. What is the effect of these social development programs on other groups?

4. Identify groups which lack a political voice. How can the government accommodate them? How can the insurgents accommodate them?

analysis How can the benefits of development be evenly distributed?

conclusions. The analyst must identify groups whose change of loyalty will affect the balance of forces. He should target those groups for development without adverse effect on other key groups.

Administrative Competence and Efficiency

1. Determine whether national plans are effectively executed. Identify sources of incompetence and corruption.

2. How is a balance achieved between centralized planning and decentralized execution?

analysis Identify corrupt and incompetent officials. How can they be reformed or eliminated? Were they appointed by a spoils or patronage system? To what levels of government does corruption reach? What would be the effect of reform on the structure of government? Identify the source of new leadership. Do artificial barriers exist? For example, does the government require unnecessary academic degrees, racial or other social classifications, or patronage as the precondition for employment? Are there opportunities for vertical mobility by merit? Are the best people concentrated at higher levels of government?

conclusions. Determine the means for equitable distribution of competent leaders at all levels of government. Determine whether material and symbolic rewards are adequate. Are talent and initiative frustrated? What psychological and tactical opportunities does government incompetence and inefficiency provide to the insurgents?


The analyst must now consider the separate analyses of the society, the insurgency, and the government together. His conclusions must reflect the interaction of all factors. The analyst must determine the dynamic with which each side attempts to mobilize human and materiel resources in its favor. This dynamic affects specific groups of people. The analysis identifies issues which concern key political, social, and economic groups. The government and insurgency offer solutions to the people's problems and attempt to deliver on their promises, within resource constraints. Measured combinations of benefits, persuasion, and coercion motivate groups to conform their behavior to the will of the government or the insurgency.


Conclusions lead to courses of action. Whether the analyst is the insurgent or the counterinsurgent or an interested third party who supports one side or the other (or chooses to remain neutral) he must determine what is necessary to--

Whether he is an observer, or a direct or an indirect participant in this struggle, the analyst must keep his courses of action in balance. He must consider the effect of each course of action on each societal group. Frequently, a benefit to one group will have a negative effect on another. He must consider all groups and neglect none. He must assign priorities to groups in proportion to their importance in achieving a favorable balance of forces.

If the analyst is the insurgent, the counterinsurgent, or a supporter of either side, he must consider using coercive measures against those groups implacably committed to the opposition. He should recommend the use of a degree of violence appropriate to the nature of the groups' involvement in the conflict. He may recommend an attack on the enemy's main combat forces with all available military resources. He may recommend the neutralization of passive supporters by close observation and movement control. He concedes no group permanently to the enemy. He holds open the option that they will defect to his ranks. In general, he should select those courses of action which hold the greatest promise of mobilizing groups to his side and the least risk of driving groups into the camp of the enemy.