The Malayan Emergency as counter-insurgency paradigm

Hack, Karl (2009). The Malayan Emergency as counter-insurgency paradigm. Journal of Strategic Studies, 32(3) pp. 383–414.



The Malayan Emergency of 1948-60 has been repeatedly cited as a source of counter-insurgency lessons, with debate over the relative importance of coercion, 'winning hearts and minds', and achieving unified and dynamic control. This paper argues that all these techniques and more were important, but that their weight varied dramatically across quite distinct campaign phases. The conclusions include that effective counter-insurgency analysis must integrate cognition of such phases (there must be different 'lessons' for different phases); and that in the Malayan case rapid build-up of barely trained local as well as extraneous forces, and the achievement of area and population security, were key to turning around the campaign in the most intense phase. While persuasive techniques were always present, 'winning hearts' came to the fore more in the later optimisation phase.

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