What Galula offers, first and foremost, is a doctrine – not a strategy. His doctrine is underpinned by an important theory about people and what motivates them to take up arms, or to side with those who do.
To illustrate these points, I consider in my book that there are two very critical assumptions at the heart of the Galula Doctrine – or at the heart of any other doctrine for that matter that seeks to pacify a population through anything else but unbridled force and terror. The first assumption is that the population you are trying to pacify is not hostile to you from the get-go. If you are a detested dictator or a detested foreigner in the eyes of the majority, protecting the population will do you little good, because even if the population feels “safe”, it will not willingly choose to side with you. The second assumption is that the cause that you uphold, representative governance for example, and the improvements that you make to the population’s everyday life, must be greater and more appealing than what the insurgency will [counter-] offer. Failing this, again, the population will not choose to side with you, as it will perceive the other side as being better suited to address its higher order needs and beliefs beyond security.
The Galula Doctrine: An Interview with Galula's Biographer A.A. Cohen
Journal Article | January 22, 2013 - 3:30am
Editor's Note: A.A. Cohen is a senior infantry officer in the Canadian Army and the author of Galula: The Life and Writings of the French Officer who Defined the Art of Counterinsurgency which was published in summer 2012 by Praeger.
Reason strengthens Strength;
Reason, because of Strength, can spread.
Strength without Reason, shall wither;
Reason, without Strength, shall fail to spread;
(Words addressed by Marshal Yen His-shan to “Chalula” at the height of the Chinese Civil War. 29th of March 1947)
OM: Which were the role of Mao and the exposure to Chinese civil war in Galula’s story? It seems to be his decisive formative lab experience like Russia was for George Kennan.
AAC: Unquestionably, of all the influences exerted on Galula’s treatise, Mao and the Chinese Civil were the greatest. Galula had a strong intellectual admiration for Maoist revolutionaries, despite being very opposed to what they stood for. Before the Chinese Civil War, Galula had no interest in insurgency or counterinsurgency. He had not fought as a Partisan during WW2; he had no experience or interest in these fields until he was exposed to China as of late 1945, in the thick of its civil war. There, his analytical penchant led him to see himself as the decipherer of Mao, intent on getting to the bottom of what the revolutionaries were fundamentally about. Galula cut through the egalitarian propaganda and all that surrounding the People’s revolution. Above all, he wanted to understand why these guys were gaining momentum as they were despite the unfavorable odds. When he figured it out, he reverse-engineered their methods to arrive at a counter-process to revolution and insurgency. His embrace of Chinese dialectics, and with these, the notion of unity of opposites or yin and yang, was helpful in achieving this.
Is counterinsurgency to Galula more of a strategy or more of a technique and a methodology?
What Galula offers, first and foremost, is a doctrine – not a strategy. His doctrine is underpinned by an important theory about people and what motivates them to take up arms, or to side with those who do. The theory goes that in times of danger (war), the majority of people will be motivated primarily by a fundamental need for security. Galula is adamant about this. But he also recognizes that there will be a minority of people – the instigators at the core of a movement – that will be ideologically, or even fanatically motivated. These are the true believers. He makes no qualms about prescribing that this is the group that the counterinsurgent or counterterrorist will need to find and neutralize, while protecting the rest of the population that aspires to a normal, if not better life. If you buy into this theory, Galula’s doctrine offers a multi-step framework for operations; in other words, a method to counterinsurgency. His famous eight steps are there to provide some logical linearity to what is otherwise a very nonlinear form of warfare. Within that framework, you have the flexibility to formulate your strategy and to conduct your operations to achieve your objectives.
So does this mean that in the wars amongst people or in the people’s wars, understanding the motivation of the people that support the insurgency is the first key step of the entire COIN process? And that based on reading that motivations the counterinsurgent should develop the strategy and the incentives package to attract the targeted-audience on his side?
(Continued at the link below)