Thursday, 13 September 2012

Campaigns as insurgency

Insurgency is a part of day to day life, it's a topic regularly in the media and one which most people are familiar with to some extent. Mao codified the operations of an insurgency, broadly laying out a model which had multiple phases:
  1. Organisation and initial disruption of opposition
  2. Rising arc of terrorist attacks, aimed at pushing opposition forces out of place and disengaging them from the population
  3. Open mobile warfare and uprising 
Counter insurgents seek to prevent this steady progression by remaining (or establishing) strong links to the population, in order to deny the insurgent their support and assistance. Usually this is done by providing a positive relationship, although many have tried to establish a counter insurgency strategy based on the use of force, usually to limited success.

One of the areas where campaigning links most strongly to military doctrine is in the insurgency/counter insurgency relationship. In politics, leading up to an election there is a similar tempo of operations:
  1. Organisation and ongoing attempts to establish a narrative against the Government. Directly post election, until the next phase begins
  2. "Ramping up" long term pre election, operations have a steadily rising tempo and impact. Usually 1-2 years before beginning of formal election campaigning
  3. The election, with open conflict between the various "sides" during the formal campaigning period
Obviously these are very broad definitions, as they are in Mao's codification, but structurally they are very similar.

Usually the Government is in the position of the counter insurgent, seeking to maintain strong links to the population, or to rebuild those links if they have declined between elections. The insurgent exists in the form of opposition parties, who can be either cooperative or uncooperative with each other. It's unusual for outright cooperation to exist during the final phase between the election, however it does often happen in the initial phases of organisation and the ramping up phase.

I'll try and build out some more thoughts on this model over the coming weeks, although I'm also in the midst of preparing for Boyd and Beyond, which will take up a fair bit of my time.


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