USASOC and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL) National Security Analysis Department will use the Assessing Revolutionary and Insurgent Strategies (ARIS) program to examine the phases of resistance development. ARIS will produce the initial research paper over the next 5 months. It will examine existing theories and doctrine to determine if they are sufficient for support planning and strategy development or if a different construct would be more helpful. The paper will provide recommendations for the next phase which could be a full study to investigate the phases/states of resistance development and describe them, their characteristics, the catalysts for change to a new phase/state and a discussion of key supporting factors.
The key questions which this effort must answer are:
What are the states or phases?
What are the identifying characteristics of those states or phases?
How many are there?
Does the capitulation of the government to the resistance only signal the transition to a new phase or state?
Should there be post transition phases or states?
Resistance organizations and Insurgencies generally follow a developmental pattern, normally described in phases. Mao’s construct describes three phases – Strategic Defensive (Latent and Incipient), Strategic Stalemate (Guerrilla Warfare), and Strategic Offensive (War of Movement). The Special Operations Research Office (SORO) construct provides 6 phases – Clandestine Organization, Psychological Offensive, Expansion, Militarization, Combat, and Consolidation. While both of these constructs provide sufficient rigor to present the authors theories and ideas, they may lack the granularity to allow the strategist and planner to formulate and design supporting campaigns. Moreover as Bard O’Neill points out, some resistances strategies are military focused and may start off in the guerrilla warfare or militarization phase. Others may be based on a conspiratorial strategy and begin with a small core cadre in the latent and incipient or the clandestine phase.
The types and methods of support to the insurgency are significantly different in the early periods of organization’s development than the latter where overt military forces are present. For the phase construct to suffice for planning and campaign design it must provide clear indicators both of the resistance’s state and of the transition to a new state. For example, when a resistance movement establishes guerrilla forces—phase 2 in Mao’s or phase 4 in SORO’s—that is a significant identifiable change. It signals a shift in logistics, communications, space required for training and the legalities of support that the external supporter must take into consideration. The volume of materiel and funding levels change as does the means of acquisition and transportation.