J 3-24 Counterinsurgency

By The Joint Staff Joint Force Quarterly 92

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Marines and members of Georgian military participate in combined forces counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations training exercise Agile Spirit
16 at Orpholo Training Area, Georgia, September 3, 2016 (U.S. Marine Corps/Kyle C. Talbot)
Marines and members of Georgian military participate in combined forces counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations training exercise Agile Spirit 16 at Orpholo Training Area, Georgia, September 3, 2016 (U.S. Marine Corps/Kyle C. Talbot)
Marines and members of Georgian military participate in combined forces counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations training exercise Agile Spirit
16 at Orpholo Training Area, Georgia, September 3, 2016 (U.S. Marine Corps/Kyle C. Talbot)
Marines and members of Georgian military participate in combined forces counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations training exercise Agile Spirit 16 at Orpholo Training Area, Georgia, September 3, 2016 (U.S. Marine Corps/Kyle C. Talbot)
Marines and members of Georgian military participate in combined forces counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations training exercise Agile Spirit 16 at Orpholo Training Area, Georgia, September 3, 2016 (U.S. Marine Corps/Kyle C. Talbot)
Photo By: Cpl. Kyle Talbot
VIRIN: 160903-M-ZX256-014

Joint Publication (JP) 3-24, Counterinsurgency, provides joint doctrine to plan, execute, and assess counterinsurgency operations. JP 3-24 defines counterinsurgency (COIN) as “comprehensive civilian and military efforts designed to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its root causes.” Accordingly, JP 3-24 provides the joint force with authoritative doctrine relative to counterinsurgency by discussing approaches to it, describing the nature of an insurgency, discussing COIN tenets, providing considerations for COIN planning, describing the COIN operational environment, and discussing aspects for the conduct of an assessment.

The Joint Staff director, Joint Force Development J7, signed a revised JP 3-24 on April 25, 2018. JP 3-24 is a priority joint publication supporting joint force requirements relative to COIN operations and in support of threats identified in the National Defense Strategy and National Military Strategy.

The revision was informed by a formal assessment conducted in September 2016 by the Joint Staff J7 Joint Doctrine Analysis Division in Suffolk, Virginia. The assessment represents an analysis of comments received from the Services, combatant commands, Joint Staff directorates, and combat support agencies; search results from joint operations and exercises; lessons learned; and other databases. Many of the changes made to JP 3-24 ensure the publication contains the most current figures, terms, definitions, and references based on changes to other JPs in the joint doctrine library since approval of the 2013 version of JP 3-24. Overall, changes to this revision of JP 3-24:

  • reduce redundancy with JP 5-0, Joint Planning, by deleting paragraphs addressing the operational assessment model and operational assessment steps
  • replace the phrase generational engagement with generational approach to better reflect long-term partnering as well as engagement
  • replace the phrase counterinsurgency environment with operational environment
  • revise the phrase violent extremist to include violent extremist organizations
  • revise the phrase root causes of the insurgency to roots of the insurgency
  • update paragraphs to delineate between information operations and military information support operations
  • add a discussion on the roles of women in an insurgency, such as combatants, members of the auxiliary, and suicide bombers
  • add a more in-depth discussion on disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, and how these can be applied while an insurgency is ongoing and after it ends
  • add a discussion on criminal networks within COIN operations.

Changes to JP 3-24 are found in each chapter, but the preponderance and most significant changes are found in chapter VII, “Counterinsurgency Operations,” and appendix C, “Counterinsurgency Practices.” Chapter VII has been rewritten, broken into two sections, and includes 12 new paragraphs, many of them information-related that provide additional context for counterinsurgency operations. Significant changes include:

  • Paragraph 1, a general overview emphasizing the need for a synchronized application of military, paramilitary, diplomatic, political, economic, law enforcement, psychological, and civic actions.
  • Paragraph 2, “Support the Counterinsurgency Narrative,” discusses how operations appropriately aligned with a narrative are strengthened through sense of purpose, unity of effort, and the ability to gain and maintain initiative against insurgents.
  • Paragraph 4, “Command and Control,” discusses how the command and control function encompasses a number of tasks, as articulated in JP 3-0, Joint Operations.
  • Paragraph 6, “Operational Methods for Counterinsurgency,” discusses several options to consider when conducting COIN operations (generational approach, network engagement, and so forth).
  • Paragraph 13, “Targeting,” shows how the targeting process can support information-related activities, civil-military operations, and meetings between commanders and host-nation leaders.
  • Paragraph 14, “Localized Security Activities,” explains that strategic localized security areas may deny the insurgency access to necessary sustainment resources such as food commodities, communications networks, and funding.
  • Paragraph 15, “Fires and Joint Fire Support,” discusses when conducting COIN operations, a commander may place additional constraints on fires beyond what might be legally required to avoid collateral damage that might bolster support for the insurgency.
  • Paragraph 16, “Commander’s Communication Synchronization,” is a process to coordinate and synchronize themes, messages, operations, and actions with all instruments of national power, and is a way to ensure the integrity and consistency of themes and messages.
  • Paragraph 20, “Counterterrorism Operations,” discusses ways and means of counterterrorism operations to combat elements of an insurgency that use terrorism as a means to influence local, domestic, and international audiences.
  • Paragraph 21, “Electronic Warfare,” discusses how electronic warfare may be necessary during COIN operations to protect friendly operations in the electromagnetic spectrum against insurgents who may operate with unsophisticated electronic means.
  • Paragraph 27, “Countering Threat Networks,” notes the worldwide emergence of adaptive threat networks and the associated challenges to the joint force. Threat networks may be adversarial to COIN forces or may simply be criminally motivated, increasing instability in a given operational area.
  • Paragraph 33, “Violent Extremism,” discusses how violent extremism and insurgency share many of the same core grievances, but they differ in their degree of organizational support base and the use of violence.
  • Appendix C, “Counterinsurgency Practices,” is based on a RAND study and provides a list of successful and unsuccessful COIN practices that the joint force commander should take into account when planning for counterinsurgency.

JP 3-24 provides current, authoritative doctrine for the joint force conducting COIN operations. It is a more information-enabled JP 3-24, providing joint force commanders and their component commanders with joint doctrine to plan, execute, and assess COIN operations.

The revised version of JP 3-24 is available at <www.jcs.mil/Doctrine/Joint-Doctrine-Pubs/3-0-Operations-Series/>. JFQ