David C Gompert, Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation and John Gordon, have co-authored a report titled Countering Insurgency in the Muslim World, which was commissioned by the Pentagon and released by the RAND Corporation earlier this year. It analyses insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, calling for a major shift in investment priorities to give the United States the capabilities it needs for effective counterinsurgency. The report characterises "US military intervention and occupation in the Muslim world" as "at best inadequate, at worst counter-productive, and, on the whole, infeasible." The report's recommendations are based on the premise that counterinsurgency (COIN) is a contest for the allegiance of a nation's population: Victory over jihadist insurgency consists not of merely winning a war against terrorists but of persuading Islamic populations to choose legitimate government and reject violent religious tyranny. Some of the significant findings of the study include: " Heavy US reliance on deadly force in the Muslim world can produce hostility and armed resistance among populations that, while not condoning terrorism, may identify with the jihadist assertion that Islam is under assault. " The US can only prevail if these contested Muslim populations are given a realistic path to a better future, both allowing and requiring them to shun violent extremism. " The study stated that when infected by religious extremism, local insurgencies become more violent, resistant to settlement, difficult to defeat and likely to spread. The jihadist appeal to local insurgents is the message that their faith and homelands are under attack by the West and they should join the larger cause of defending Islam. This makes US military intervention not only costly, but risky. " While the recent military surge his improved security in much of Iraq, "it would be a profound mistake to conclude from it that all the US needs is more military force to defeat Islamist insurgencies." " The authors estimated that the US would need to add thousands of deployable civilian professionals and billions more in targeted foreign aid to meet counterinsurgency needs. However, such requirements could be halved if US allies and international organisations matched US efforts. " Cyber-savvy Islamist insurgents have broken US domination in exploiting information. The report proposes ways for the US to improve information networking (accessing and sharing information), cognition (understanding situations and using the information effectively), and psychology (knowing and influencing the population). " US allies and international organisations have significant capacity in areas where the US is weak including building education, health and justice systems, and training police and gendarmerie forces. While, such allied capabilities are not readily deployable at present, intense planning by NATO, European Union and United Nations agencies could help meet this goal. Recommended Strategy: The US can be more effective in countering insurgencies in the Muslim world by strengthening its capabilities through: " Building effective and legitimate local governments. " Organising, training, equipping and advising indigenous military and police forces. " Gathering, sharing and exploiting information. " The US should shift its priorities and funding to improve civil governance, build local security forces, and exploit information capabilities that have been lacking in Iraq and Afghanistan. Based on analysis of historical insurgencies, of recent and current insurgencies, and of the general characteristics of complex insurgency, US COIN capabilities should: " Be acceptable, not menacing, to local populations, which ultimately decide whether insurgencies succeed or fail. " Strengthen the responsibility, authority, standing, and performance of local governments. " Be able to prepare and enable local security forces, which are more acceptable to the population than American forces. " Be sustainable materially, economically, and politically (again, success in COIN takes over a decade on average). " Place "population protection" before "force protection." " Promote law, order, and justice, and the respect for same in the population. The report also recommends a new information-sharing architecture, Integrated Counterinsurgency Operating Network (ICON) that would foster and rely on universal cell phone use, "wikis" and video monitoring. Such a system would maintain operational security while allowing for fast-moving information among US military, intelligence, civilian, allied and local agencies. The US should discard "pro-America" themes in favour of strengthening local government, while at the same time highlighting evidence that jihadists are failing to meet the basic needs of the local population. Conclusion: COIN strategy may work for USA, but defence planners in Pakistan should insist on acquiring training to combat insurgency as this is one area, where our security forces lack the requisite experience. The writer is a political and defence analyst