Foreign internal defense operations

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For more information, see: Foreign internal defense.

Developing the overall foreign internal defense is a joint process, at the level of grand strategy, between the Host Nation (HN), the United States, and other governments and nongovernmental organizations helping the HN. This article deals with the military operational activities that carry out that strategy.

In cooperation with the HN, the FID organization needs to define its initial set of operations, accepting that needs will change over time. No single operational plan will fit all HN environments, and it is wise to consider the various counterinsurgency models and see if the proposed plan will work to fill the identified gaps, weaknesses, and disconnection

A representative set of steps for the FID force[1] is:

  1. Security Operations. "The first priority for any government facing an insurgency is to establish a secure environment." The FID force role will vary here. The HN government has the greatest credibility when it can conduct these operations, respecting human rights, on its own.
  2. Gain Popular Support. "Gaining and maintaining the support of the population is the overall goal and path to victory since the population is the center of gravity, therefore it is imperative for long-term success that the population views the government as legitimate. It is equally important for the US effort to be viewed as legitimate versus being viewed as an occupier or supporting a puppet government."
  3. Gain International Support. "It is also important for the government’s internal defense efforts to be legitimized, accepted and supported by the international community." The more the military and nonmilitary FID organization is multinational, the easier it may be to gain this support.
  4. Defeat Insurgents. "If done correctly, the first three lines should de-legitimize the insurgents and lead to their lasting defeat. This line will attack the hard-core insurgents. Some may succumb to offers of amnesty, but most will need to be killed or captured through offensive operations." Again, it is most desirable HN personnel do this.
  5. Develop Host Nation Internal Security. Internal security forces, such as local and national police forces, key facility protection corps, diplomat security personnel, coast guard, criminal investigation, paramilitary forces for counterinsurgency, local and national level special weapons and tactics capabilities will be necessary to defeat the internal threat as a law enforcement matter." If coalition combat forces have been used, "as the internal security forces are trained, the coalition will transition to only protecting the nation from external threats until such a time as the actual national military force is trained, equipped, and can conduct unilateral operations."

"The end state is a legitimate government that the population trusts and is able to detect and defeat internal and external threats."

Cordesman points out that military force, used to excess, may be worse for the long-term situation than not engaging the insurgents at all. When a shell leaves the barrel of a cannon, its effects may be more than physical; it may explode into "real time political and media dimension, “Effects based warfare” depends on political effect, not just military ones. Tactical victories can be meaningless without political, ideological, information, and media dominance.

Especially in areas of high population density, civilian casualties, collateral property damage, and injuries from "friendly fire" can have enormous political effects. Operations in civilian areas are steadily more political and sensitive. Their planning must include politically and culturally appropriate solutions for interrogations, detainees, and prisoners.

In both the city and country, HN troops will be closer allies if they have the same protection and undergo the same risks as the FID troops. This can present difficulties when FID personnel are forbidden from combat operations, but there is a very delicate line between live-fire training and combat.[2] Another important morale issue is that the HN feels that the FID personnel share the risk with them, with both having equivalent force protection and risk in assignments.

Planning staff

HNs vary greatly in the extent of their tradition of a professional military staff. Some may have no idea of a staff besides personal aides to a senior leader. Others may have concepts that go back many years, with personnel trained in their own staff colleges, by foreign study, or both. It should not be forgotten that insurgents also may have well-trained staff.

One of the key roles of a staff is avoiding mission creep. While the top leadership may have a vision of a desired outcome, one of the staff responsibilities is examining the practicality of that vision. Staff officers may be able to convert a vision of the future into a realistically phased plan to reach that future objective.

Mission creep can develop in different ways, with the inappropriate planning coming from outside or inside the FID units.[3] Either the HN or the FID force may see great human suffering, and want to relieve it. Rushing into action can "interfere with impartiality as well as undermine long-term programs." One type happens when the units receive missions for which they were not trained or equipped. For example, in Somalia, the original UN force was established for humanitarian services and limited peacekeeping. Without obtaining additional resources judged needed by the on-scene commanders and staff, they took on a peace enforcement mission.

With the best of intentions, a unit may take on more than is allowed in the current mandate and mission. "An example would be if a commander directed execution of civil action projects that fall outside his authority. Rebuilding structures, training local nationals, and other activities may be good for the local population, but they may be beyond the mandate and mission.[3] At the same time, FID and HN commanders need to recognize when they lack critical resources, or if their rules of engagement are inadequate for a rapidly developing situation. When the on-scene UN commander in Rwanda, Gen. Romeo Dallaire asked UN headquarters for freedom to act, it was denied due to the interpretation of UN resolutions. Hindsight is always easy, but the catastrophe that took place might have been averted had Dallaire been able to carry out certain actions, including disabling or destroying of broadcast facilities used for inflammatory propaganda, as was done early in Bosnia.[4]


It is fruitless to do detailed planning for things not within the capabilities of the HN and FID organization. For example, plans that call for the placement of forces not accessible by roads, or where the roads are unsafe, will not be practical unless the forces can reach their destinations by air or water.

When air or water movement is needed, there need to be aircraft or watercraft, as well people and equipment for maintaining them. There may need to be navigational aids on the course or at the destination, or one of the first requirements is planning to install them. Especially with air transport, there either must be a means of refueling aircraft along the path or at the destination. If there is no refueling capability at the destination, the aircraft must cut into their cargo capacity so that they carry enough fuel for the return trip; this is a serious limitation on transport flights from Abadan, Nigeria and Kigali, Rwanda to El Fasher airport in Darfur, Sudan.

Legitimacy and Government

In the gap model, closing the legitimacy gap provides a framework for constructive HN activity.[5] Kilcullen calls this gap the political pillar.[6]

By whatever legitimacy comes when "ensuring that rule of law to protect property and the right of the public....move towards some form of centrist, moderate political pluralism. A legitimate government has to close all three gaps. Leaders for life, hereditary presidents, one party systems, and monarchies with captive political parties or none, all help breed extremism"; extremism flourishes when gaps widen.

Kilcullen measures success in this area by the amount of support that is visibly mobilized by "takeholders in support of the government," [marginalizing] opposition outside the law..[and] further the rule of law. A key element is the building of institutional capacity in all agencies of government and non-government civil institutions, and social re-integration efforts such as the disarming, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of combatants."

The End State

Disarming can have enormous symbolism, as with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning in Northern Ireland. There may well be situations where an insurgency will not hand over its arms to the government, but will accept face-saving measures such as having a third party verify that the weapons are no longer a threat. Reintegration may mean that people perceived as having been involved in violence still can reenter the political process.

Like the security pillar for military forces, the political pillar is the principal arena for diplomatic and civil governance assistance efforts — although, again, civil agencies play a significant role in the security and economic pillars also.[6]

"Transparency—in a developing government’s decision-making, its allocation of budgetary funds, and its administration of the rule of law—must also be promoted.[5] Perceived transparency and the reduction of corruption were key to the success of Ramon Magsaysay in creating a viable government in the Philippines. That El Salvador and Nicaragua are negotiating free trade agreements is another mark of success.

The Limits to Intervention

This section bears the title of Townsend Hoopes' best-known book. In 2004, of a seminar that brought a group of Muslim students to the US, he observed "A vital point here is that the realities of modernity (technical, social, political) are inexorable. They cannot be wished away, which means that traditional societies are faced with a crucial choice: to adjust, to adapt or to risk steady decline and perhaps ultimate disappearance. Given this daunting paradigm, the genuine enthusiasm for America shown by our 21 Muslim guests was a heartening sign. They seemed impressed with the depth of our national commitment to human freedom and individual opportunity, and the stability of our institutions, both governmental and private. Several declared that exposure to America had reinforced their determination to work for social change in their own countries. Two Pakistani women, both law students, said they planned to devote their lives to fighting for broader women's rights at home. One young man said it was his ambition to become his country's prime minister.

"As a group they were progressive moderates, categorically opposed to terrorism. At the same time, they were openly critical of current U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, believing it plays into the hands of Islamic extremists. The Bush doctrine seems to them overmilitarized, insensitive to historic realities and to genuine grievances in the region.

"....The gravest crisis in the world today turns on the question of how to prevent a destructive confrontation between the West and the whole of Islam. If there is an answer, it lies in persuading the great majority of Muslims (totaling some 2 billion people) to choose modernity and moderation, and to reject the blind alley offered by its nihilist minority. In this context, a $200,000 State Department program aimed at explaining the basic tenets and promises of American democracy to future leaders of South Asia looks more cost effective than a $400 billion defense budget."[7]

No matter how strongly a Leviathan may wish to do so, it "cannot simply avoid or wish away dealing with local elites, for ultimately their actions, not those of the [external power], will strengthen or undermine institutions. Money, especially money given to governments for their help against an external enemy, cannot buy legitimacy." At the height of the Cold War, U.S. foreign aid went to dictators perceived helpful in the fight against communism, but doing little to promote broad-based development.

"Third, in using short-term measures to resolve complex crises, an external power must be careful not to inadvertently exacerbate the situation or create new problems altogether" Anti-Soviet activities in Afghanistan left it in a civil war. The failure of the French and other nations to question the State of Vietnam referendum, 1955 left a Southern government without widely perceived legitimacy, and a Northern government with authoritarian rule but a certain degree of public support. "The bloody civil war consumed Afghanistan, paving the way for the Taliban and al Qaeda to take control of the government...In attempting to end foreign conflicts quickly, policymakers must avoid planting the seeds of future instability... developed state policymakers must be candid about the long-term nature of the state-building enterprise. This may seem politically unpalatable, but there is no excuse for launching limited engagements in countries mired in political and economic chaos. If the United States [or any external power] cannot sustain its engagement, it would do better not to intervene at all.

Where a problem involves economics, such as drugs in Latin America or diamonds in West Africa, other nations and civilizations have to work on the demand side, rather than requiring the HN to destroy what may have become an integral part of its economy.

Legitimacy is Culturally defined

Neither isolation nor indulgence alone can meaningfully affect an elite’s stance. A "tough love" toward elites may be needed to have them accept responsibility while increasing a culturally appropriate model of public participation. Elites in the weak nations world must recognize they cannot survive without contributing to the building of sustainable civil societies. While its long-term effect has yet to be determined, Afghans for a Civil Society[8] demonstrates some potentially relevant principles. Its focus is on "community empowerment and citizens to play a greater role in determining Afghanistan's destiny. ACS is committed to increasing public participation in the decision-making process through democracy building, policy development and independent media." ACS put its headquarters not in Kabul, the national capital, but in Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold when they were in control.

Cordesman uses much the same argument as Eizenstat's legitimacy gap by saying "Algeria, Egypt, and Syria have already shown that “long wars” fought on this basis may bring the threat under partial control but cannot defeat it. If the US has pushed too hard, too quickly, and sometimes for the wrong thing, the Islamic leader that tries to defeat Islamic extremism by blocking or delaying reform, or making concessions to Islamic extremism, is guilty of committing self-inflicted wounds to his own faith and country—a failure far worse than any failure by Western states."[9]

When a society suffers terrorism, it needs to recognize its own responsibilities, rather than shifting blame to outside groups. In no way does this absolve groups from committing acts of terror, but the FID paradigm recognizes that completed acts of terrorism widen the security gap; the Marxist guerrilla theoretician Carlos Marighella specifically aimed at the security gap.[10] FID is intended both to assist the HN in developing direct measures to prevent and mitigate acts, but it also recognizes that the HN needs to carry out information operations that show the acts to be contrary to the general interests of the population. "To be credible in such messages, the HN government, as well as other policy influencers such as clerics, educators, politicians and media, need to condemn the acts while recognizing grievances...They ultimately will be more important than internal security forces and counterterrorism campaigns.[9]" Note that counterterrorism differs from counterterror, the latter being the use of terrorist methods against the insurgents. See Is there a role for counterterror?.

Even though Barnett speaks of problem nations as disconnected from the core, even failed states have some access to electronic communications, which means that the HN needs to respond quickly to the messages and claims of responsibility issues with attacks..."Steady progress towards meeting popular needs and goals is equally important. Such progress may often be slow, and change will normally have to be evolutionary. But it must be a constant and publicly credible pursuit that leaders are seen to push forward. Extremists have capitalized on the dissatisfaction on the "street" with their economic, political, and economic situation—the steady decay of public services, corruption, and the narrow distribution of income.[9]

The West must also understand that Western institutions cannot be transplanted into a social context for which they were not defined. Western observers also must understand that even fair elections, if the elected government cannot close gaps, are moot. The elites, therefore, need to envision the form of legitimacy that works in their culture. Many Asian societies, for example, are more concerned with common social goals than Western individualism. When the problem is radical Islam, the West must reinforce local reform efforts and avoid being seen as meddling in countries’ internal affairs by supporting secular over religious Islamists, driving reform from the outside, or trying to change the Islamic character of Islamic countries."

Terrorism can never be totally eliminated as a tactic, but the ideology that drives organizations like Al-Qa’ida can be discredited and isolated. Support for extremism is still extremely marginal in weak nations. Terrorists killing innocent civilians have tarred the image of their broader civilization, and have destroyed the livelihood of nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. Poll after poll has shown that people in the Muslim worlds want moderate alternatives to the status quo, if their political, religious, and intellectual leaders will actually provide them." It is no accident that groups such as Hezbollah provide social services, with a message that the HN government cannot.[11]

Is there a role for counterterror?

One of the challenges to a government intending to be seen as legitimate is the extent to which it can use what is often counterterror: selective assassination. This is not a black-and-white choice, as in the WWII examples of Reinhard Heydrich and Isoroku Yamamoto. Both were uniformed and identifiable, but Yamamoto was a member of the military while Heydrich was a government official. Lynn asks, "In a struggle for legitimacy founded on justice, can a government execute its opponents without trial? That was what assassination of insurgent leaders amounted to in El Salvador and Vietnam."[12]

In a counterinsurgency situation, the perception of the government (i.e., McCormick's CF [13]) violating the human rights of the population causes Eisenstat's legitimacy gap to widen. The Phoenix program in South Vietnam was criticized for a lack of precision in its targeting, and caused a further loss in legitimacy of the government, regardless of the damage done to the Viet Cong infrastructure. Marighella recommended that urban guerrillas deliberately provoke the government into overreaction, as a means of reducing its legitimacy.[10]; the doctrine of having FID trainers counsel respect for human rights has pure military, not just humanitarian, justification.[14]

With strong intelligence, there may be a justification for targeted killing of clearly identified leaders and key specialists. When governments go farther into terror and torture, however, experience has shown that its effect rebounds both on their legitimacy and onto their personnel. [15]

Indirect military support operations

Indirect support operations emphasize the principle of HN self sufficiency. "Indirect support focuses on building strong national infrastructures through economic and military capabilities that contribute to self-sufficiency. FID personnel contribute to indirect support through security cooperation guidance, delivering through security assistance (SA), supplemented by multinational exercises, exchange programs, and selected joint exercises.[14]

Troop Equipping and Training

FID personnel need to be prepared to deliver training to a wide range of HN personnel, from graduates of first world staff and war colleges, to highly trained special operations forces (SOF) to those totally untrained in the specific area where the FID program is located. Training delivery can include institutional training (including exchanges among national military colleges), on-the-job training, and unit-conducted individual and collective training will be required.

Those who deliver training must exemplify both military skills and cultural sensitivity. While one's own country might consider searching after-action reviews a recognized learning experience, such techniques are counterproductive in countries where even one-on-one direct criticism is insulting, and even more so if criticism is delivered in front of third parties. Especially in intelligence and psychological operations, the FID and HN personnel should recognize they can learn from one another. [14]


In the absence of specific enabling legislation or orders, logistic support operations are limited by US law and usually consist of transportation or limited maintenance support.[14] Other nations will have their own policies, but any FID force needs to avoid making the HN dependent on it for logistical services that the HN could do. Some HNs are sufficiently wealthy to be able to hire foreign contractors, but this practice also should be avoided.

Highly skilled contractors may be useful as trainers, but their long-term use does not encourage the HN building its own set of skills. Third-country nationals also may present a security problem.

There can be times, however, where the country or countries providing FID resources can make an enormous difference at a key time, as, for example, with heavy airlift or sealift. For example, while US troops are not on the ground in Darfur, African Union peacekeepers are being flown from Kigali,Rwanda and Abuja, Nigeria by US transport aircraft.[16]

Information Operations

There is a strong emphasis on guiding the HN to do psychological operations, not simply to keep the noncombat role of the foreign force, but also the reality that HN personnel will understand language and cultural nuances far better than foreigners. For example, a very effective leaflet during Operation Desert Storm was distasteful and even offensive to many Americans, because they showed men walking while holding hands "The Arabs loved them as they showed the solidarity of the soldiers, hand in hand." To have Arab men hold hands symbolizes friendship, not any sexual message that Americans perceived.[17]

When using propaganda in FID, it must never be forgotten that there are multiple audiences with often different perspectives. The wrong leaflet or broadcast send to the wrong group can be counterproductive. In US FID doctrine,[18] targets are identified as:

  1. Insurgents. "Create dissension, disorganization, low morale, subversion, and defection within insurgent forces, as well as help discredit them." A leaflet intended to strengthen the resolve of HN military forces might be perceived as demonstrating weakness of the latter vis-a-vis the insurgents.
  2. Civilian populace. "Gain, preserve, and strengthen civilian support for the HN government and its counterinsurgency programs." Too strong a military emphasis, regarding actions of either side, can be frightening.
  3. Military forces. Strengthen military support, with emphasis on building and maintaining the morale of the HN forces. "Avoid anything that can be turned against HN forces by insurgents."
  4. Neutral elements. "Gain the support of uncommitted groups inside and outside the HN."
  5. External hostile powers. "Convince hostile foreign [groups] the insurgency will fail."

Direct military support not involving combat operations

External military forces assigned to FID can provide direct support not involving combat operations. Where security assistance is funded from outside the military, such direct support is funded by the FID-providing nation's military budget, generally do not involve providing equipment, and may not involve direct training of the host country's forces by the nation providing FID assistance. The external nation may train internal trainers, and work with the host nation in civil-military operations.

Civil-military operations, under the FID model, include providing services to the local population. Jointly providing such services indirectly trains the local military in skills including logistics, preventive and reactive medicine, communications, and intelligence operations. Realistically, the FID force will retain some self-defense capability, although geopolitical considerations may make that quite low-profile.

Direct support (not involving combat operations) involve the use of US forces providing direct assistance to the HN civilian populace or military. They differ from SA in that they are joint- or Service-funded, do not usually involve the transfer of arms and equipment, and do not usually but may include training local military forces.

Direct support operations are normally conducted when the HN has not attained self-sufficiency and is faced with social, economic, or military threats beyond its capability to handle. Assistance will normally focus on civil-military operations (primarily, the provision of services to the local populace), psychological operations, communications and intelligence sharing, and logistic support. The decision to conduct US combat operations in FID operations is the President's and serves only as a temporary solution until HN forces are able to stabilize the situation and provide security for the populace. In all cases, US combat operations support the HN IDAD program and remain strategically defensive in nature.


Some countries have essentially no communications infrastructure, and may need basic fixed-station to fixed-station radio, all the way up to secure mobile communications. In many situations, by adding communications security features to the military sites, a new or upgraded telephone system, including cellular telephony, can meet many non-combat military requirements.

Portable, robust communications are needed for military ground operations. There will also be needs for air to ground and air-to-air communications. When operating with multinational coalitions, or with foreign nation intelligence systems, the appropriate HN personnel will need communications interoperable with those systems.


The goal of intelligence sharing is to make the HN independent. Clearly, not every HN can afford space-based systems and other advanced, expensive technology. Advanced technologies, for security reasons, may not be appropriate to make available, in raw form, to third countries. Decisions on what can be shared and should be shared will involve the HN, the FID nation(s) country teams, the relevant combatant command, and the intelligence community.[14].

When sensitive intelligence is provided, appropriate security needs to be in place, involving counterintelligence, other relevant security, and police organizations of all the relevant nations. Counterintelligence elements can provide this support with HN military counterintelligence elements, security service, and police forces when deployed in support of FID operations.

Early in the relationship, FID personnel, including appropriate specialists, will evaluate the HN intelligence capability, including appropriate secure communications, and recommend an architecture and implementation plan. Training in planning and executing intelligence operations can be provided.

Urban Intelligence Issues

Marighella speaks of the urban environment as being as or more concealing than the jungle.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag. The actual radar need not be operated by the HN or even in their country; the radar can send its information to a remote intelligence center[19]

More difficult are situations where the countries asking for support, such as ASEAN and allies both can offer sensitive HUMINT, but want to exchange for SIGINT from the US or allies such as Australia. These exchanges can be immensely valuable, but both sides may feel the need to sanitize detailed sources.[20]

Aviation Support

One of the more challenging FID roles is that of aviation, given that the US Air Force has long emphasized strategic attack and the de-emphasis of airpower’s supporting functions have contributed to a doctrinal void regarding airpower’s role in counterinsurgency.[21] Four airpower functions define the broad scope of airpower’s role in fighting insurgents and terrorists, three of which can be noncombat:

  • air mobility: often extremely valuable, but on the edge of combat operations when HN personnel are flown to a combat zone.
  • intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)
  • information operations (IO): not just broadcasts and leaflet drops, but air transport of government officials to remote areas can be used to improve HN information dissemination efforts and to provide a strong symbol of government legitimacy and resolve. For instance, the Philippine secretary of defense during the Huk rebellion, Ramon Magsaysay, frequently traveled by air to visit remote barrios and frontline units to boost morale and inform the public of new government reform policies. Air mobility can transport specialists and technicians to remote areas in order to provide on-site training and assistance in areas such as public services management, medical care, sanitation and hygiene, agriculture, and school administration. Furthermore, air mobility can be used to transport construction equipment, supplies, and personnel to remote areas in support of public works programs such as housing construction, power generation, and transportation infrastructure improvements. In addition, air mobility can address political alienation and disenfranchisement by extending the electoral process to outlying areas
  • counterland: close air support would fall into the combat operations category.

Direct combat role

Deciding to extend FID to direct combat against an internal foe is made at the highest level of government of the country providing the FID personnel, and in keeping with that country's laws. The first levels of such a role could still be limited to logistics, intelligence, communications, and other combat support and combat service support roles that free the host nation forces to do the actual fighting.

Combat operations may be authorized that are limited to force protection, advising or leading combat operations as on-the-job training, and, very selectively, independent operations. Within the scope of independent operations may be low-intensity operations such as special reconnaissance. Direct action might be authorized to stop immediate terrorist threats, possibly to the country providing FID, or to neutralize WMD.

Depending on the potential infiltration of the HN forces, the FID force might keep control of heavy weapons, combat aircraft, and other sensitive, potent hardware.

Historically, one of the first missions for special operations forces was unconventional warfare (UW), or training and leading guerrillas in occupied countries. In WWII, this was a mission of the UK-US-French Jedburgh teams in occupied Europe. Shortly after the end of the war, US and UK advisors worked with Greek and Turkish forces. After the war, and the organization of U.S. Army Special Forces, the first deployments went to Europe to operate guerrillas when the expected Warsaw Pact invasion overran Europe.

Fire Support

If FID forces take part in combat, one of their first activities tends to be teaching HN personnel how to call for close air support and artillery fires. The actual fire may come from HN or FID resources, or a combination. One of the reasons that fire direction is a priority is that experienced FID personnel will avoid firing at unknown targets, or firing at insurgents using civilian shields. Free-fire zones, such as used in Vietnam, can produce new insurgents faster than killing old ones.

Air Interdiction and Precision Strike

There is little place for air interdiction in fighting a local insurgency, in the most common sense of interrupting lines of supply. Only when the insurgents are being supplied from across a border, or at least from a remote area of sanctuary in the country, does this make sense. In the case, for example, of the Ho Chi Minh trail, any useful level of interdiction required either high-risk direct observation by special reconnaissance troops,[22] or, in some cases, airborne sensors, such as the Vietnam-Era "Black Crow", which etected the "static" produced by the ignition system of trucks on the Ho Chi Minh trail, from distances up to 10 miles [23].

The coordination of human reconnaissance or unmanned remote sensors, with strike aircraft, missiles, or artillery, and avoiding collateral damage, requires advanced military skills. Such skills may not be within the repertoire of a weak nation, and the difficult political decision becomes whether the FID nation should undertake such strikes. Stronger states, especially when the insurgency is largely external, may be able to carry out such operations, but they, too, face a political problem: the potential "blowback" if the attack the territory of another nation.

With the advent of precision guided munitions that can be directed onto a specific target, it may be reasonable to use air attack against isolated command posts or other high-value facilities away from civilian areas. The combination of highly accurate, small weapons such as the Small Diameter Bomb, or even bombs without explosive filler, may be a wise way to attack specific, well-identified and difficult to reach targets. The skills necessary for identifying the target and guiding weapons to it, however, may not be something HN personnel have the experience to do.

Special Reconnaissance

While special reconnaissance always runs the danger of coming into combat situations, there may be situations, in an FID situation, where intelligence on some key adversary installation is essential, but the necessary ground observations can be made only by specialists. Perhaps the HN can carry out a conventional amphibious landing, but do not have people trained or equipped for beach mapping, evaluating defenses, etc., by night. In such cases, when less risky alternatives such as air or space reconnaissance have been exhausted, the FID nation might lead a team in such a mission. When the HN has qualified people, perhaps who have trained in the FID home country, but not the equipment, they can join in such an operation.

It may be highly desirable, while a sensitive operation is in progress, to have the HN conduct distracting operations. The knowledge of the sensitive operation must be tightly held, and most of the troops carrying out the distraction -- which ideally has a result more than mere distraction -- will not know why they are taking a particular action.

Another example is where HN personnel guide a successful rescue effort in denied area, as Nguyen Van Kiet did with a United States Navy SEAL companion, Thomas R. Norris behind enemy lines. Norris received the U.S. Medal of Honor for his part of the mission.

Direct Action and Unconventional Warfare

When the FID force takes direct action, or leads UW forces, it needs a clear reason to do so.[1] Jones cites some examples as:

  1. Operations against Rogue, Hostile Regimes or State Sponsors of Terrorism--a proven operational concept having been used successfully twice since 11 September in Afghanistan and Iraq. These operations will either be the decisive or shaping operation depending on the political sensitivity of the target country.
  2. Operations against what will be referred to in this study as al Qa’ida states (AQ States) in which al Qa’ida is able to overthrow one or more of the regimes within the boundary of the 7th century caliphate. Unconventional warfare would be used to overthrow these regimes.
  3. Operations in failed states when there is no effective government, but an element within the population, such as a tribe or ethnic group, is the State for all intents and purposes. In this case unconventional warfare will be used to overthrow this State.[1]

Conventional Ground Operations

This category does not include defense against external invasion by nation-state forces. It can, however, include operations against rebel conventional forces, guerrillas in large strength, and insurgent bases.

Naval Surveillance and Patrol

A FID force can patrol international and coastal waters, perhaps using sensors not available to the HN. The surveillance vessels, aircraft, UAVs, etc. can guide the HN action without violating their own rules of engagement and participating in unauthorized direct combat.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jones, D (2006), Ending the Debate: Unconventional Warfare, Foreign Internal Defense, and Why Words Matter, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College
  2. Cordesman, Anthony H. (29 October 2007), Security Cooperation in the Middle East, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nagl, John A.; David H. Petraeus & James F. Amos et al. (December 2006), Field Manual 3-24 Counterinsurgency, US Department of the Army
  4. Tulak, Arthur N. (1999-03-15). Physical Attack Information Operations in Bosnia: Counterinformation in a Peace Enforcement Environment.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Eizenstat, Stuart E. (January/February 2005), "Rebuilding Weak States", Foreign Affairs (no. 1) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Eizenstat-2005" defined multiple times with different content
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kilcullen, David (28 September 2006), Three Pillars of Counterinsurgency Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Kilcullen3P" defined multiple times with different content
  7. Hoopes, Townsend (September 25, 2004). Washington College: Lessons in Democracy.
  8. Afghans for Civil Society. Creating a Democratic Alternative.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Cordesman, Anthony H. (August 1, 2006). The Importance of Building Local Capabilities: Lessons from the Counterinsurgency in Iraq. Center for Strategic and International Studies.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Marighella, Carlos. Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla.
  11. Canonico, Peter J. (December 2004). An Alternate Military Strategy for the War on Terrorism. U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
  12. Lynn, John (July-August 2005), "Patterns of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency", Military Review: 23-27
  13. McCormick, Gordon. "The Shining Path and Peruvian terrorism". RAND Corporation.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 US Department of Defense (2004-04-30), Joint Publication 3-07.1: Foreign Internal Defense (FID)
  15. Trinquier, Roger (1961), Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency
  16. Lovett, Jenny, U.S. Air Forces in Europe airlift Nigerian troops to Sudan's Darfur region
  17. Friedman, Herbert A.. Leaflets of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
  18. Joint Publication 3-53: Doctrine for Joint Psychological Operations, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, 5 September 2003
  19. Comodeca, Thomas J. (07-04-2003), The Need for Special Operations Forces in the Andean Region's Counter Drug Efforts, U.S. Army War College
  20. Simon, Sheldon W. (June 2003). U.S. Policy and Terrorism in Southeast Asia. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
  21. Sagraves, Robert D (April 2005), The Indirect Approach: the role of Aviation Foreign Internal Defense in Combating Terrorism in Weak and Failing States, Air Command and Staff College
  22. Rosenau, William (2000), Special Operations Forces and Elusive Enemy Ground Targets: Lessons from Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War. U.S. Air Ground Operations Against the Ho Chi Minh Trail, 1966-1972, RAND Corporation
  23. Correll, John T. (November 2004). "Igloo White". Air Force Magazine Online 87 (11). IglooWhite.