ISSN 2330-717X

Lessons Learned From Non-State Soldiers – Analysis


The modern world is more interconnected than before due to the impacts of modernization and technological changes globally. Security has become an international concern due to non-state soldiers. For example, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Abu Sayyaf, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, and others have dominated contemporary conflict globally, raising global security challenges (Rassler, 2017). There have been increased concerns from various states and countries regarding establishing foreign entities to formulate strategies and techniques to intensify non-state soldiers’ interactions. The non-state soldiers have developed intelligence to gather and share information and employ tactical flexibility in their operations. Also, these groups utilize effective clearing operations, thus win local battles easily. Therefore, in this paper, I will explore the foundation of non-state soldiers. Also, I discuss a few groups such as Left-Wing Militancy, Understanding Chechens and Vietcong, Non-State Soldiers of Africa, Sunni Crescent, Shia’s Crescent, and Ethno Nationalists and Criminal Enterprise Armies.  

Popular discontent with modernization, industrialization, and rapid changes in socio-economic conditions is the basis of existing non-state soldiers. Talk about freedom fighters, terrorists, militia, gangs, revolutionaries, guerrillas, paramilitaries, and quasi-state bodies all exist due to global unrest because of industrialization (Jones, 2019).  Non-state soldiers are religious-affiliated, ethnic groups or foreign militants not affiliated to the sovereign state whose purpose is to control the state through degradation, destruction, or defeat of the country. These groups possess unique features that make them survive and accomplish their heinous acts. Such characteristics include the application of guerrilla tactics such as avoidance of direct contact and conflict with state forces, concealment, deception, spying, and reliance on a covert realm to survive, operate and gather information. Also, the groups recruit people into their groups forcefully through population leverage. Thus, non-state soldiers utilize the population to effectively communicate, dispatch weapons and food to their groups, recruit, and as a sanctuary to train. However, technological changes, communication networks, travel networks, and growing media have reinforced ideologies, operations, and non-state soldiers’ recruitment globally. 

The Left-Wing movement entails autonomous militant anti-fascist individuals and groups in the United States, emphasizing fraternity, progress, internationalism, reform, equality, rights, and liberty ideas (Marks, 2019). It has its roots in anarchist terrorism in the 19th and 20th centuriesafter the cold war. Far-left terrorism is to overthrow capitalist systems and replace them with Socialist or Marxist-Leninist but sometimes occur within the socialist states as activism against the ruling government. Propaganda by deed, socialist and communist influence Left-wing terrorists. Left-wing terrorism is ideologically motivated, while nationalist-separatist terrorism is motivated ethnically. Such groups include the Red Army Faction of West German, Red Brigades-Italian, Japanese Red Army, and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. 

The post-soviet history explains all about violence in the Chechnya region, Russia between Chechen forces and Russia from some years back (1785). The Russo-Chechen war is a tension between the Chechen aspirations to secede from Russia and the Russian attempt to secure its territorial integrity (Ette & Joe, 2019). The war roots back to Caucasus incursions in the 16th century. Russia’s motivation to influence it was due to a desire to reduce banditry and enhance strategic foothold in the Caspian Sea. They subject the Chechens to agricultural devastation, murder, and rape as a frightening strategy to submit led to suffering, thus forcing the population to inhabit harsh mountain terrain and exiling them to Siberia. The Viet Cong-the Vietnamese supporters of the Communist National Liberation Front were apolitical organizations in South Vietnam and Cambodia. Its army was fighting communism, left-wing nationalism, and Vietnamese ideology. The organization fought against South Vietnamese and United States governments and emerged a winner because of its tactics such as guerrilla, a network of cadres, and regular army units controlled all territories. The communist developed terrorism and assassination programs against government functionaries and officials. 

Security is also a concern in Africa due to existing non-state soldiers such as the Lord Resistance Army, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab group, Al Qaeda, and Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Saul, 2016). The Lord’s Resistance Army/operates in Lord’s Resistance Movement is a heterodox and rebel insurgent group that operates in Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. Initially, United Holy Salvation Army, the group has unique capabilities such as expansive intelligence networks, loyal inner circle, and force that protect the group. They conduct exploitation of geographical and political terrain, primarily forested areas, utilization of local culture, region, and social norms, and exploitation of mass population into the group (Yin, 2019).  Al-Shabaab terrorist group operates in Somali, although reducing their power and size by Operations by Army Troops from various states such as the Kenyan Army. The MEND operates in Niger Delta, and it arose due to social and conflict due to rich oil in Niger Delta where some natives feel sidelined, thus leading to war eruption organized by citizens. 

The Sunni and Shia Crescent represent the population in the Middle East as extremist terrorists. However, the difference between the two exists in their impacts on American consideration with the increasing tensions in Iraq (Bellal, 2017). The Shia extremist and Sunni radicals differ in their approaches and objectives in terror because Sunni operates continuously in a mid-high intensity manner and considers war against infidels and apostates as a perennial condition indicates overlapping waves. For example, the open-ended campaigns against Israel by the Shia group imply terror campaigns accomplished with organization and state objectives. The groups manifest different patterns of recruiting terrorist operatives and formulating their missions. However, Shia terrorist enjoys state support; hence, it is not questionable that they originate from state-run businesses, consulates, and Iranian embassies (Mueller, 2016). The Sunni extremist such as Salafi-Jihadis depends on coreligionist expatriate communities to facilitate their operations despite holding minority viewpoint within Sunni Islamic society. Although both groups have similar tactics and strategies, the Shia extremist proof to be more intensified due to the kidnapping of innocent people to barter and exhibit a high incidence of target assassins for political gain. The Sunni terror group abducts, kills, and exhibits high killings, especially the Salafi-Jihadist group. 

Ethno-Nationalism is a kind of nationalism where ethnicity defines the nation. The ethnic nationalist’s central theme is that the country is shared heritage, everyday language, faith, and ethnic ancestry (Castan & Radil, 2018). Criminal groups crop up as ethnic groups that develop and grow to be illegal armies due to social and economic differences. Such groups go against the government/state and employ unique tactics and strategies to accomplish their activities. Such groups utilize their capacity, effectiveness, and operability due to technological changes, a decline of the monopoly of power held by the ruling government, and refinement of skills, thus improving their operations. 

In conclusion, various states and countries’ recent concerns concerning non-state soldiers are an issue that needs resources and cooperation from multiple stakeholders (Marks, 2017). It involves pulling together and developing programs that aim to counter these groups’ operations and reduce their strengths and capabilities. Lessons learned from these groups include their increased capacity to collect intelligence, share information between themselves, and apply lessons learned in their tactical operations. Such groups develop knowledge, tactical flexibility and undertake effective clearing operations, diminution, and territory control degradation, among other capabilities. 


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Dr. Mustapha Kulungu

Dr. Mustapha Kulungu is the Principal Researcher at the ILM Foundation Institute of Los Angeles, California. He graduated from Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California.

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