With the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq seemingly drawing down, and with new calls to focus on the threats of great power competition posed by states such as China and Russia on the rise, what will happen to U.S. capabilities for dealing with conflicts that occur in messy political-military environments? Irregular Soldiers and Rebellious States offers, for both expert and non-expert audiences, a useful typology and background for examining interventions where U.S. advisors and forces operating on a small-scale basis will either work with a foreign government to help defend it from threats of subversion or insurgency (known as Foreign Internal Defense) or to assist insurgents or guerrilla forces in countering a hostile regime (known as Unconventional Warfare). It uses nine examples to illustrate how the U.S.—and the British in one case—used such capabilities in either limited or assertive ways to defend (El Salvador, Philippines, Sahel, and Dhofar) or counter (Angola, Nicaragua, northern Iraq, and Afghanistan) foreign governments. Placing such interventions within the broader contexts of American military history and the cultures of the armed forces, it offers three key findings and six policy prescriptions for wisely and judiciously using these capabilities in the present and future.
Michael P. Noonan, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow in the national security program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he served as an advisor with an Iraqi infantry battalion, he has taught at Haverford College, Loyola University Chicago, and Swarthmore College. His writings have appeared in The American Interest, Orbis, Parameters, National Security Studies Quarterly, War on the Rocks, and U.S. News and World Report’s World Report.
Prologue: Irregular Soldiers and Rebellious States
Chapter One: Uses of Force, the American Ways of War, and a Disordered World
Chapter Two: Indirect Strategy, Advisors, and the American Military Profession
Chapter Three: Defensive Indirect Interventions—Foreign Internal Defense
Chapter Four: Offensive Indirect Interventions—Unconventional Warfare
Chapter Five: Irregular Soldiers and Rebellious States—Past, Present, Future
Appendix A: U.S. “Irregular” & “Traditional” Operations Abroad, 1798-2018
Appendix B: Combatant Command Authorities and U.S. Special Operations Command as a Unified Combatant Command
As a foreign policy tool, military interventions are frequently used but seldom publicized ways of exercising national power. In Irregular Soldiers and Rebellious States, Noonan provides a snapshot of small-scale military operations in recent years and postulates on the role such actions might play in the future. The author, a veteran of the recent war in Iraq, places limited interventions in a historical context by showing how US deployment of highly trained military personnel became the preferred means of confronting enemies in regions where large-scale operations were either impractical or politically sensitive. Though such interventions had mixed results, Noonan demonstrates how the subtlety, scalability, and flexibility of small units provided advantages that more conventional options lacked. Even as the US pivots to the possibility of a "near-peer" conflict in the future, Noonan asserts that small-scale interventions provide a valuable political option. This slim volume is packed with information, statistics, and examples... [I]t is an excellent synopsis of recent military history and provides insight into possible future conflicts. Advanced undergraduates through faculty and professionals.
Irregular Soldiers and Rebellious States is timely and important because in provides insight into how the military may be effectively employed in irregular warfare in this era of great power competition.... This book is for the practitioner, policymaker, scholar, and student. But it also will inform the general public and all those with an interest in U.S. national security.... Although a relatively short book it is very thoroughly sourced so students and researchers will find it very useful. Most importantly however, is the amount substantive information and sound analysis and arguments that will inform policy makers and strategists. This book punches well above is weight as evidenced in its three findings and six policy prescriptions.... Michael Noonan’s excellent book will contribute to the intellectual foundation necessary to achieve those predetermined U.S. foreign policy and military objectives through limited indirect operations.
This book is an excellent and comprehensive primer on the components involved in small-scale military interventions by the United States in overseas conflicts to support friendly governments to defend themselves from insurgent-type rebellions.