Compellence in Counterinsurgency Warfare: The Uses of Force in Dhofar, Oman, and El Salvador
Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 18 Jan 2016
Date Written: 2010
This paper analyzes the uses of force in two successful counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns to delineate under what conditions the use of military force serves the state’s strategic ends, and under what conditions it hinders them. The conventional wisdom prescribes the strictly limited use of force in COIN. Historically, however, successful states have used considerable force, including massive force and including the targeting of civilians. I argue that successful counterinsurgency requires using force selectively: to punish and deter, for denial, and to show resolve. Further, I sketch the conditions under which each type of force is likely to achieve state political ends, and under what conditions it is not. The cases are the British-led campaign in Dhofar, Oman, 1965-1976, and the U.S.-backed campaign in El Salvador, 1979-1992.
Keywords: Counterinsurgency, Asymmetric Conflict, Compellence
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