This study investigates the relationship between insurgency strategy, counterinsurgency response, and the outcome of the counterinsurgency operation. Despite the presence of irregular warfare throughout history, governments and militaries continue to possess a strong distaste for this style of conflict. Rather, militaries prefer to fight conventional wars, which follow protocol and rules of engagement. As a result, insurgencies and COIN strategies are severely understudied, leaving a gap in the literature. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with the publication of the U.S. Field Manual 3-24, have revitalized the study of counterinsurgency once more. The research conducted in this study analyzes what COIN strategy is most successful, depending on the type of insurgency movement? Four insurgency strategies are studied: conspiratorial approach, urban warfare, military-focus approach, and protracted popular warfare. Likewise, there are four counterinsurgency strategies studied: hearts-and-minds, stability operations, search and destroy, and occupation. A mixed method of statistical analysis and four descriptive case studies are employed to answer this research question. In conclusion, a surprising disconnect was discovered between COIN literature and policy, resulting in major policy implications.


Marsh, Kevin


International Relations


International Relations


counterinsurgency, insurgency, irregular warfare

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Kimberly E. Seidell