Low intensity conflict
Low intensity conflict is the use of military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 forces applied selectively and with restraint to enforce compliance with the policies or objectives of the political
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 body controlling the military force. The term can be used to describe conflicts where at least one or both of the opposing parties operate along such lines.

Low intensity operations

Low-Intensity Operations is a military term for the deployment and use of troops and/or assets in situations other than war
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

. Generally these operations are against non-state actor
Non-state actor
Non-state actors are categorized as entities participating or acting in the sphere of international relations; organisations with sufficient power to influence and cause change in politics which are...

s and are given terms like counter-insurgency
A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency involves actions taken by the recognized government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it...

, anti-subversion
Subversion (politics)
Subversion refers to an attempt to transform the established social order, its structures of power, authority, and hierarchy; examples of such structures include the State. In this context, a "subversive" is sometimes called a "traitor" with respect to the government in-power. A subversive is...

, and peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....


United States

Low-intensity conflict is defined by the US Army as:
The manual also says:


As the name suggests, in comparison with conventional operations the armed forces involved operate at a greatly reduced tempo, with fewer soldiers, a reduced range of tactical equipment and limited scope to operate in a military manner. For example the use of air power, pivotal in modern warfare, is often relegated to transport and surveillance. Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 is often not used when LIC occurs in populated areas
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

. The role of the armed forces is dependent on the stage of the insurrection, whether it has progressed to armed struggle or is in an early stage of propaganda and protests.


Intelligence gathering is essential to an efficient basis of LIC operation instructions. Electronic and signal gathering intelligence, ELINT and SIGINT
Signals intelligence is intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether between people , whether involving electronic signals not directly used in communication , or combinations of the two...

, proves largely ineffective against low intensity opponents. LIC generally requires more hands-on HUMINT
HUMINT, a syllabic abbreviation of the words HUMan INTelligence, refers to intelligence gathering by means of interpersonal contact, as opposed to the more technical intelligence gathering disciplines such as SIGINT, IMINT and MASINT...

 methods of information retrieval.


In the first stages of insurrection, much of an army's work is "soft" - working in conjunction with civil authorities in psychological operations, propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

, counter-organizing, so-called "hearts and minds
Hearts and Minds
Hearts and Minds may refer to:* A biblical quotation; see the Wikisource link-Film:* Hearts and Minds , a 1974 documentary film about the Vietnam War-Television:...

." If the conflict progresses, possibly into armed clashes, the role develops with the addition of the identification and removal of the armed groups - but again, at a low level, in communities rather than throughout entire cities.


The Union of Myanmar (the official name of Burma) has regularly conducted limited low-intensity military campaigns against the independence movement of the Karen people
Karen people
The Karen or Kayin people , are a Sino-Tibetan language speaking ethnic group which resides primarily in southern and southeastern Burma . The Karen make up approximately 7 percent of the total Burmese population of approximately 50 million people...

 in an area of southeast Burma (roughly corresponding to a Burmese administrative region called the Kayin State
Kayin State
Kayin State is a state of Burma . The capital city is Hpa-an.-History:The region that forms today's Kayin State was part of successive Burmese kingdoms since the formation of the Pagan Empire in mid-11th century...

), which has actively pursued independence since January 1949. While allegedly limited and low-intensity in that the territories occupied in force by central government forces are returned (as they cannot be held permanently as of yet) at the end of the offensives
Annual Dry Season Offensive
An Annual Dry Season Offensive is a type of low intensity warfare typically practiced by national governments against ethnic insurgent groups fighting for independence or autonomy...

 (with the stated, but sometimes unstated, purpose of weakening the opposition and independence movements), human rights organizations and national governments outside of Burma question the veracity of, and sometimes outright refute (based on clear evidence) these claims.


The governments of Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 have also engaged in limited military offensives (analogous to Burma's "annual dry season offensives") against various armed opposition and independence movements, which have often escalated into full-scale warfare, particularly in the south
South Sudan
South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

 and Darfur
Darfur is a region in western Sudan. An independent sultanate for several hundred years, it was incorporated into Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1916. The region is divided into three federal states: West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur...

, but also until recently in the east
Eastern Front (Sudan)
The Eastern Front is a coalition of rebel groups operating in eastern Sudan along the border with Eritrea, particularly the states of Red Sea and Kassala. The Eastern Front's Chairman is Musa Mohamed Ahmed...

. These military actions (First Sudanese Civil War
First Sudanese Civil War
The First Sudanese Civil War was a conflict from 1955 to 1972 between the northern part of Sudan and the southern Sudan region that demanded representation and more regional autonomy...

 and Second Sudanese Civil War
Second Sudanese Civil War
The Second Sudanese Civil War started in 1983, although it was largely a continuation of the First Sudanese Civil War of 1955 to 1972. Although it originated in southern Sudan, the civil war spread to the Nuba mountains and Blue Nile by the end of the 1980s....

) have, over time, continued to ravage the areas in dispute and contribute greatly to the poor conditions in those regions as well as the various human rights violations that have occurred (and in some cases are still occurring) there.

German occupation of France

German occupation of Western Europe during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, notably the occupation of France, shared many aspects with more recent cases of LIC, such as the "Hearts and minds
Hearts and Minds
Hearts and Minds may refer to:* A biblical quotation; see the Wikisource link-Film:* Hearts and Minds , a 1974 documentary film about the Vietnam War-Television:...

" stage early on, establishment of puppet governments, strong propaganda aimed at isolating resistance movements, and support to domestic friendly forces (such as the Milice
The Milice française , generally called simply Milice, was a paramilitary force created on January 30, 1943 by the Vichy Regime, with German aid, to help fight the French Resistance. The Milice's formal leader was Prime Minister Pierre Laval, though its chief of operations, and actual leader, was...

 in France).

See also

  • Counter-insurgency
    A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency involves actions taken by the recognized government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it...

  • Divide and rule
    Divide and rule
    In politics and sociology, divide and rule is a combination of political, military and economic strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy...

  • Fourth generation warfare
    Fourth generation warfare
    Fourth generation warfare is conflict characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, soldier and civilian.The term was first used in 1989 by a team of United States analysts, including William S. Lind, to describe warfare's return to a decentralized form...

  • Guerrilla warfare
    Guerrilla warfare
    Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

  • Irregular Warfare
    Irregular warfare
    Irregular warfare is warfare in which one or more combatants are irregular military rather than regular forces. Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare, and so is asymmetric warfare....

  • Michael G. Vickers
    Michael G. Vickers
    Michael G. Vickers was confirmed as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on March 16, 2011. Before becoming USD-I, Vickers served as United States Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict...

  • Military operations other than war
    Military operations other than war
    Military Operations Other Than War focus on deterring war, resolving conflict, promoting peace, and supporting civil authorities in response to domestic crises. The phrase and acronym was coined by the United States military during the 1990s, but it has since fallen out of use. The UK military...

  • New Wars
    New Wars
    New wars describe international or civil wars of low-intensity conflict that involve myriad transnational connections so that the distinctions between internal and external, aggression and repression, local and global are difficult to sustain...

  • Political Warfare
    Political warfare
    Political warfare is the use of political means to compel an opponent to do one's will, based on hostile intent. The term political describes the calculated interaction between one's government and a target audience to include another country's government, military, and/or general population...

  • Reagan Doctrine
    Reagan Doctrine
    The Reagan Doctrine was a strategy orchestrated and implemented by the United States under the Reagan Administration to oppose the global influence of the Soviet Union during the final years of the Cold War...

  • Violent non-state actor

External links

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