Road Warriors: Counterinsurgency Security Operations & Popular Support in Insurgent Conflicts Open Access

Morgan, Richard (Spring 2018)

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This dissertation evaluates how and under what conditions do counterinsurgency security operations---presence patrols by counter-insurgents, in particular---influence noncombatant support preferences as well as the frequency of insurgent violence. This project first classifies insurgent conflicts according to the stated political objective of the insurgent group---whether governmental or territorial---and according to the general theme of the narrative frame insurgent political entrepreneurs use in their strategic narrative---whether they focus on a distinct political ideology or a shared social identity group. Focusing on the two primary types of insurgent conflicts (governmental/political ideology and territorial/social identity), this project argues that in territorial/social identity insurgent conflicts security operations can fuel ethnic provocation, triggering a security dilemma and parochial behavior (in-group solidarity/support) among noncombatants. This form of coercive counterinsurgency can help validate the content of the insurgent group's strategic narrative. Therefore, an increased presence of counter-insurgents will decrease the likelihood that noncombatants will support the government in territorial/social identity insurgent conflicts relative to governmental/political ideology insurgencies. To assess this proposition, this project uses data from two village-level surveys. These data capture counterinsurgency patrols in and the support preferences of 71 villages in the Bodoland territorial/social identity conflict areas of Assam, India and 124 villages in the districts of Bihar, India affected by a governmental/political ideology insurgent group---the Communist Party of India, Maoist, also known as the Naxalites. These data provide support for the proposition that security operations can have heterogeneous effects on noncombatant support preferences across these two common types of insurgent conflicts. Nevertheless, this project fails to find a relationship between counterinsurgency security operations and the frequency of insurgent violence in either conflict.

Table of Contents

1.       Insurgency & Counterinsurgency---an Introduction

2.       Cutting Through the Fog of War---Concepts & Context

2.1 Insurgent Conflict

2.2 Counterinsurgency

2.3 Insurgent Strategic Narratives

2.3.1 Political Objectives

2.3.2 Narrative Frames

2.4 A Typology of Insurgent Conflict


3.       The Road To Perdition---Theory & Expectations

3.1 Security Operations & Noncombatant Support

3.1.1 Expectations in Governmental/Political Ideology Conflicts

3.1.2 Expectations in Territorial/Social Identity Conflicts

3.1.3 Expectations Concerning Insurgent Violence


4.       The Long & Winding Road---Case Selection, Measurement & Methods

4.1 Road Development & Counterinsurgency

4.1.1 Roads in Combat

4.2 Rural Road Development & Survey Sampling Strategy

4.3 Counterinsurgency Presence Patrols

4.4 Community Norms of Support & Noncombatant Support Preferences

4.4.1 Village Leader Interviews

4.4.2 Household Survey Responses

4.5 Violence Data

4.6 Control Data


5.       Governmental/Political Ideology Insurgent Conflict---The Naxalites

5.1 Conflict Setting & Background -- Central India

5.2 Strategic Narrative & Conflict Classification --The Naxalites

5.3 Presence Patrols & Support Preferences --The Naxalite Conflict

5.3.1 Road Development & Counterinsurgency Presence Patrols – I

5.3.2 Measuring Noncombatant Support Preferences – I

5.3.3 Presence Patrols & Support Preferences – I


6.       Territorial/Social Identity Insurgent Conflict---Bodoland, Assam

6.1 Conflict Setting & Background – Assam

6.2 Strategic Narrative & Conflict Classification cation -- The NDFB

6.3 Presence Patrols & Support Preferences -- The Bodoland Conflict

6.3.1 Road Development & Counterinsurgency Presence Patrols – II

6.3.2 Measuring Noncombatant Support Preferences – II

6.3.3 Presence Patrols & Support Preferences – II


7.       Road Development, Security Operations & Insurgent Violence

7.1 Theoretical Foundation

7.2 Data Sources & Research Design

7.3 Results

7.3.1 Naxalite Case

7.3.2 Northeast India


8.      Security Operations & Popular Support---a Conclusion

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