The Nineteenth Century Origins of Counterinsurgency Doctrine

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In counterinsurgency, the population is the center of gravity. This insight has become a key doctrinal tenet of modern armed conflict. But where does it come from? The razzia, a tactic introduced by the French in North Africa around 1840, first thrust tribal populations into the focus of modern operational thinking. Soon the pioneering bureaux arabes added an administrative, civil, and political element. Eventually, in the 1890s, French operations in Madagascar gave rise to a mature counterinsurgency doctrine. David Galula, a French writer who heavily influenced the American Counterinsurgency manual, is merely the joint that connects the nineteenth century to the twenty-first.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-758
Number of pages32
JournalThe Journal of Strategic Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


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