Clear and hold


Clear and hold

Clear and hold is a counter-insurgency strategy in which military personnel clear an area of guerrillas or other insurgents, then keep the area clear of insurgents while winning the support of the populace for the government and its policies. As defined by the United States Army, "clear and hold" contains three elements: Civil-military operations, combat operations, and information warfare.[1] Only highly strategic areas are initially chosen for "clear and hold" operations; once these are secure, the operation gradually spreads to less strategic areas until the desired geographic unit (county, province, nation) is under control.[2] Once an area has been cleared, local police (rather than military) authority is re-established and government authority re-asserted.[3]

Contents

Development and critical elements

The clear and hold strategy was first developed by Sir Robert Thompson and the British Army during the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960.[4][5] It was also widely employed by the British during the Mau Mau Uprising of 1952–1960.[6] The strategy was also implemented by General Creighton Abrams as part of the "pacification" effort conducted by the Republic of Vietnam and the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War (at which time the strategy became widely known).[7] Clear and hold has also been used as a counter-insurgency tactic in Algeria, Greece, the Philippines, and South Korea.[8] The strategy was used extensively by the United States and its allies in the Iraq War.[9]

Several critical elements of the clear and hold strategy have been identified. One element is to secure support for the strategy at all levels of the traditional military forces. Experience in Vietnam has shown that traditional military forces dislike the limited role they play in the clear and hold strategy, and may successfully advocate for a more traditional war-making role.[8][10] Another challenge is that the strategy takes time, which a government may not (for various reasons) have.[11] The strategy also requires significant numbers of on-the-ground "clearing" combat and "holding" police forces.[12] Thompson and others have also argued that clear and hold operations can only be successful by isolating the population from insurgents, but some strategists point out that this can have deleterious effects on public support for the government and its policies.[13]

Assessment of the strategy

The success of clear and hold as a counter-insurgency strategy is hotly debated. Military historian Lewis Sorley has argued that clear and hold tactics were markedly successful in the Vietnam War, despite being implemented after a decade of conflict and under less than ideal conditions.[14] His view is supported by others, who see the strategy as still viable in the 21st century.[15]

While combat operations against insurgents are often successful, some authors conclude that combat operations themselves make it very difficult to win support for the government, that "hold" operations are rarely successful, and that guerrillas easily adapt.[16] Others argue that the initial limited goals of clear and hold operations enable guerrilla forces to regroup militarily, limiting the combat effectiveness of the strategy.[6][17] Some analysts have also voiced the concern that the strategy relies too heavily on physical security issues, and ignores the role that ideology, nationalism, and other belief systems play in fomenting insurgency in the first place.[18]

Notes

  1. ^ U.S. Army, Counterinsurgency Operations, 2004, p. 3–11.
  2. ^ U.S. Army, Counterinsurgency Operations, 2004, p. 3–12.
  3. ^ U.S. Army, Counterinsurgency Operations, 2004, p. 3–13.
  4. ^ Joes, America and Guerrilla Warfare, 2004, p. 254; see also, generally, Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency: Experiences from Malaya and Vietnam, 1978.
  5. ^ Thompson invented the term. See: Marston and Malkasian, "Introduction," in Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare, 2008, p. 14.
  6. ^ a b Collins, Military Strategy, 2002, p. 187.
  7. ^ Tuohy, "Ky's Army Switches to Pacification Role," Los Angeles Times, November 6, 1966; "South Viet Nam: To Clear & to Hold," Time, March 27, 1964.
  8. ^ a b Joes, The War for South Viet Nam, 1954–1975, 2001, p. 63.
  9. ^ Ignatius, "A Better Strategy For Iraq," Washington Post, November 4, 2005; West, The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq, 2009, p. 110.
  10. ^ Young, The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990, 1991, p. 83; Walton, The Myth of Inevitable US Defeat in Vietnam, 2002, p. 55.
  11. ^ Asprey, War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History, 2002, p. 831.
  12. ^ Walton, The Myth of Inevitable US Defeat in Vietnam, 2002, p. 55; Ricks, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006, p. 413.
  13. ^ Kaiser, American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War, 2000, p. 170; Gill and Sahni, Terror and Containment Perspectives of India's Internal Security, 2001, p. 239; Gettleman, Vietnam and America: A Documented History, 1995, p. 210.
  14. ^ See, generally: Sorley, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam, 1999; see also: Elliott, "Parallel Wars?..." in Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam, 2007, p. 29; Woodward, State of Denial: Bush at War, 2007, p. 418.
  15. ^ See, generally: Walton, The Myth of Inevitable US Defeat in Vietnam, 2002; Trinquier, Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency, 2006.
  16. ^ Elliott, The Vietnamese War: Revolution and Social Change in the Mekong Delta, 1930–1975, 2007, p. 8.
  17. ^ Walton, The Myth of Inevitable US Defeat in Vietnam, 2002, p. 58; Taber, War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare, 2002, p. 85.
  18. ^ Gettleman, Vietnam and America: A Documented History, 1995, p. 211–212.

Bibliography

  • Asprey, Robert B. War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History. Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse, 2002. ISBN 0-595-22594-2
  • Collins, John M. Military Strategy: Principles, Practices, and Historical Perspectives. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2002. ISBN 1-57488-430-1
  • Elliott, David W. P. "Parallel Wars? Can 'Lessons of Vietnam' Be Applied to Iraq?" In Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam, or, How Not to Learn From the Past. Lloyd C. Gardner and Marilyn Blatt Young, eds. New York: New Press, 2007. ISBN 1-59558-149-9
  • Elliott, David W. P. The Vietnamese War: Revolution and Social Change in the Mekong Delta, 1930–1975. 2d ed. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2007. ISBN 0-7656-0603-8
  • Gettleman, Marvin E. Vietnam and America: A Documented History. 2d rev. ed. New York: Grove Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8021-3362-2
  • Gill, Kanwar Pal Singh and Sahni, Ajai. Terror and Containment Perspectives of India's Internal Security. New Delhi: Gyan Books, 2001. ISBN 81-212-0712-6
  • Headquarters. Department of the Army. Counterinsurgency Operations. Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army, 2004. ISBN 7-116-69200-2
  • Ignatius, David. "A Better Strategy For Iraq." The Washington Post. November 4, 2005.
  • Joes, Anthony James. America and Guerrilla Warfare. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2004. ISBN 0-8131-9095-9
  • Joes, Anthony James. The War for South Viet Nam, 1954–1975. 2d rev. ed. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-275-96806-5
  • Kaiser, David E. American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-674-00672-0
  • Marston, Daniel and Malkasian, Carter. "Introduction." In Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare. Daniel Marston and Carter Malkasian, eds. Westminster, Md.: Osprey Publishing, 2008. ISBN 1-84603-281-4
  • Ricks, Thomas E. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. New York: Penguin Group, 2006. ISBN 1-59420-103-X
  • Sorley, Lewis. A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999. ISBN 0-15-601309-6
  • "South Viet Nam: To Clear & to Hold." Time. March 27, 1964.
  • Taber, Robert. War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare. Reprint ed. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2002. ISBN 1-57488-555-3
  • Thompson, Sir Robert. Defeating Communist Insurgency: Experiences from Malaya and Vietnam. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1978. ISBN 0-333-24825-2
  • Trinquier, Roger. Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. ISBN 0-275-99268-3
  • Tuohy, William. "Ky's Army Switches to Pacification Role." Los Angeles Times. November 6, 1966.
  • Walton, C. Dale. The Myth of Inevitable US Defeat in Vietnam. Florence, Ky.: Taylor & Francis, 2002. ISBN 0-7146-8191-1
  • West, Bing. The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq. Reprint ed. New York: Random House, 2009. ISBN 0-8129-7866-8
  • Woodward, Bob. State of Denial: Bush at War. Reprint ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2007. ISBN 0-7432-7224-2
  • Young, Marilyn Blatt. The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990. Reprint ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. ISBN 0-06-092107-2

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