Small Wars Journal

Why Counterinsurgency Matters for MONUSCO

Fri, 02/21/2014 - 12:34am

Why Counterinsurgency Matters for MONUSCO

Robert Beljan

A year ago, I conducted research for a Certificate of Training in United Nations Peace Support Operations (COTIPSO) on Lessons learned from ISAF applicable for UN peacekeeping. My research largely focused on general lessons learned but recent developments in the UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en République démocratique du Congo (MONUSCO)) made me rethink through these  to see if ISAF’s lessons are applicable  to MONUSCO’s peacekeeping operation.  The latter, for the most part, focused on the protection of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). From a military operational standpoint, ISAF is conducting counterinsurgency operations, while MONUSCO is involved in UN-defined robust peacekeeping. A key feature in both types of operation is the focus on the protection of civilians. Although categorized differently, ISAF’s counterinsurgency campaign and MONUSCO’s robust peacekeeping have much in common.

This essay will also assert that COIN doctrine should not be archived and put on the shelf without serious study of lessons learned at the “tactics, techniques and procedures” (TTP) level that are applicable across the spectrum of military operations. Recent UN peacekeeping innovations like MONUSCO’s Forward Intervention Brigade[1] advocate for close study of ISAF lessons learned that can be incorporated in robust peacekeeping in DRC.

The Background of Congo’s Conflict

The Democratic Republic of Congo is located in Central Africa and covers a geographical area that is the size of Western Europe. Some eighty percent of the DRC’s surface is covered by jungle while the climate is mainly tropical. The DRC has 11 administrative provinces that are sub-divided into districts and then into territories. Communications infrastructure is rather poor with only few roads and railways while airfields are widespread but with limited all weather capability. The DRC holds large reserves of natural resources and raw minerals. The estimated population number is over 65,000,000, with more than 200 different ethnic groups. Main languages are Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba and Swahili while French is the official language.

“DR Congo is often referred to as the worst and most neglected humanitarian crisis on Earth.”[2] The ongoing insurgencies in the eastern DRC are a direct product of regional instability resulting from several factors that can be traced back to disintegration of Congo as a post-colonial state (at the time known as Zaire), the end of the Mobutu’s dictatorship and then the spillover of instability from Rwanda. The Rwandan genocide of 1994 was a major  contributor to the  Congolese insurgency when more than 1 million Rwandan Hutus, among whom were 30,000–40,000 Hutu militiamen and soldiers of the Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR, Rwandan Armed Forces) who were perpetrators of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda, had fled into the DRC. Hutu militiamen formed Interahamwe rebel groups on DRC territory that become a major security threat for Rwanda, governed since 1994 by the Tutsi. This initiated the so-called “First African World War” which has seen eight African nations (DRC, Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and Burundi) fighting in DRC for several years.[3] In the following years several other local conflicts took place in DRC inflicting further death and destruction on its inhabitants.

In the period from 1994 until 2013 more than 5 million people died in DRC from the direct and indirect results of conflict. Throughout this time several insurgencies developed in the jungles of Congo spreading death and destruction. Today, almost two decades after the first conflict, several violent insurgent groups still operate in the eastern part of the Congo. Currently the active and most influential armed groups are[4]:

  • FRPI (Forces de resistance patriotiques en Ituri): Insurgent group present in Ituri, Province Orientale, awaiting integration into the FARDC army.
  • FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda): predominantly a Hutu insurgent group, operating throughout the Kivus in eastern DRC. The group is a legacy of former Rwandan (ex-FAR) military, responsible for the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.
  • LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army): Insurgent armed group from northern Uganda but now operating in northern parts of DRC and led by Joseph Kony.
  • Mayi-Mayis: Mayi Mayis are  loosely organized local militia groups operating in eastern Congo. There are six main groups: the Mai-Mai Yakutumba, Raia Mutomboki, Mai-Mai Nyakiliba, Mai-Mai Fujo, Mai-Mai Kirikicho, and Resistance Nationale Congolaise. They are formed by young combatants who refuse to reintegrate into the national armed forces, Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC). These groups are well known for their belief in some sort of black magic. Mai Mai groups feel threatened by Rwandophone communities, both Hutu and Tutsi.

Another major insurgent group, M23 (23 March Movement) was successfully defeated in December 2013. The M23 insurgent armed group comprised former CNDP (Congrès National pour la Défense du People) mutineers who left the FARDC (after initially being integrated) at the beginning of April 2012. The leadership of the group was predominantly Tutsi with FDLR as their main enemy.

The current violence in DRC has a number of historical root causes.[5] One of those is competition between communities for land and economic opportunities. The main grievances are “related to land conflicts or disputes over customary power, including conflicts over succession, and the boundaries of administrative entities. Because the issues of territory, identity, and customary power all overlap, these conflicts have often been fought out between ethnic communities - although disputes between clans or families have also led to tensions. Tensions also remain high because of socio-economic underdevelopment, the mismanagement of land affairs and poor local governance due to weaknesses in provincial and central administration.”[6] In addition to this, some local communities in DRC feel increasingly marginalized. “A key element in understanding local conflict dynamics is the particular link between territory and identity, and the territorial/administrative organization based on customary chiefdoms. As part of a strategy to consolidate its dominance, the colonial administration imposed a new administrative structure that confirmed the direct links between identity and territory as the basis of local political organization.”[7] Customary territorial divisions confirmed local ethnic differences and affected social coexistence. The Tutsi community in DRC was mainly affected by this and felt particularly vulnerable. They have been locally marginalized since Congo gained independence and this has been further complicated with Rwandan genocide when large Hutu communities fled to Congo disrupting the ethnic balance in eastern Congo.

Insurgent/armed groups developed as a means of expressing local grievances and making local community voices heard. These groups usually enjoy support from the local communities from which they are recruited. The level of popular support varies from group to group since many of them harass even their own local community. The alternatives for a local population are often worse: an unreliable and abusive FARDC or predatory foreign or other community armed groups. The Congolese government “remains ineffective in rural areas, leaving customary chiefs, whose role is recognized by the constitution but not fully defined, virtually in charge. They use their key position between the state and communities to benefit from any state and international investments and to protect their own interests. This fuels conflict, with inter-communal rivalries playing out in state institutions and among local and national politicians.”[8] Elections brought more problems when significant actors lost political influence gained through armed rebellion in the aftermath of Civil War when a transitional government was formed from different factions. This was clearly manifested when a former belligerent group, Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD), lost control of almost a third of the country to hold just 15 seats in the 500-strong National Assembly after the 2006 elections: RCD wasn’t able to gain more than 5 percent of the vote. This marginalization was principally harmful for the Tutsi community   who enjoyed influence through the RCD.

The failure in Security Sector Reform (SSR) is another major contributor to continuing violence in DRC. The whole idea within SSR, conducted by the UN (MONUC at that time), was integrating armed groups into the national armed forces, the FARDC. “The peace process was based on a power-sharing principle: former belligerents joined Congolese state structures and their armed wings were integrated into a new national army … the process of integration of armed groups (often led by army deserters) into the armed forces has become, paradoxically, an important incentive for armed mobilization.”[9] This created some sort of incentive for elites to mobilize armed groups in order to gain or maintain their status within the government. Armed groups effectively transformed themselves from being the only voice of local communities into becoming more dependent on political and business elites. Another problem was that through SSR, past human rights violators were not removed from the ranks but were provided with influence within the newly established FARDC. Once the armed group was integrated within FARDC, it kept its structure intact within FARDC formations which then allowed its leader to maintain control of their loyal cadre. De facto, former armed group leaders maintained parallel command structures within their area of interest. This is a common feature for initial transition periods of SSR but in DRC, this has lasted for a decade.

Another major driver for insurgency is so called “conflict minerals”. These are coltan, diamonds, copper, gold, cobalt and the "3 T's": tin, tantalum, tungsten (part of all consumer electronics products like cellphones and laptops). These minerals present an opportunity for armed groups to engage in the cycle of their exploitation. Armed groups earn hundreds of millions of dollars every year through conflict minerals trade. Since the Congolese government cannot control this territory, mainly in eastern DRC, and are unable to provide essential services required for natural resources management from which can then extract revenues, armed groups are able to prosper from this illicit trade. UN reports confirm links between armed groups, natural resources, the weapons trade and abuses of civilians.[10]

Insurgent armed groups, criminal gangs, and other spoilers who present risk to the peace process have posed a threat to the civilian population through violence throughout the DRC for decades. The groups tend to be small and loosely organized, covering and defending local areas and are involved in local conflicts and extortion from the local population. Some insurgent groups were developed as self-defence mechanisms but have evolved into abusive rebellions that become responsible for massacres of civilian populations. Insurgent groups like Raia Mutomboki[11] have arisen as a grassroots response to a lack of security provision by the FARDC during and after the transition process; but they also transformed from a popular self-defence force into a local power abuser. One of the common characteristics of these groups is the use of Sexual Based Violence as a tactic of war to humiliate, spread fear, disperse and displace the local population from their homes.

UN Involvement in DRC

United Nations involvement in Congo dates back to early days of independence in period 1960-1964 when ONUC (Operation of the United Nations in Congo) was deployed to assist in maintaining law and order, but this role was subsequently modified to include maintaining the territorial integrity and political independence of the Congo, preventing the occurrence of civil war and securing the removal all foreign military personnel.[12] MONUC (UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) was established after the 1999 Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement that concluded the first Congolese war. MONUC was to observe the ceasefire and the disengagement of forces. It increased its strength after the Sun City Peace Agreement that concluded the second Congolese war in 2002.[13] The mandate of the mission was then changed to include more stability tasks in 2010. This was reflected in the new name for mission - MONUSCO, United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

MONUSCO   has around 20,000 military personnel, 1000 police officers and represents the most expensive UN operation ever mounted. MONUSCO has a broad peace-keeping mandate supporting state institutions, protecting civilians, monitoring human rights abuses, assisting in arresting criminals for the International Criminal Court (ICC), monitoring the arms embargo etc. The UN Security Council provided an appropriate mandate, often referred to as a “robust mandate”, authorizing MONUSCO peacekeepers to undertake all necessary actions to disrupt those groups that use violence. However, the mandate left room for tactical level interpretation that obscured its obligation to act, especially when it comes to protection of civilians. This was evident in MONUSCO’s actions towards those armed rebel groups that carried out massive violations of human rights in eastern DRC.

After several years of persistent instability, described by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the “cycles of violence” that threatened once again to spill over throughout the region, regional players gathered at the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and decided on 24 February 2013 to extend the MONUSCO’s mandate and to include within the existing forces a new formation: the UN Forward Intervention Brigade (FIB). The FIB, 3,000 strong, is composed of three infantry battalions, one artillery battalion and one Special Force and Reconnaissance Company with forces from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi. In terms of C2 the Brigade will operate under the direct command of the MONUSCO Force Commander. The Brigade mandate is to neutralize armed groups, to reduce the threat to state authority and civilian security and to make stabilization of the country possible. The mandate includes offensive activities to disrupt the actions of the armed groups with or without the assistance of the Congolese armed forces, FARDC. The mandate raised number of issues. Fiona Blyth and Major General Patrick Cammaert (Ret.), former UNDPKO Military Advisor and former Eastern Division Commander of the MONUC, expressed concerns about risks that the mandate put on mission as whole: “The Brigade’s deployment makes the UN a party in the conflict, which many member states fear taints the UN’s neutrality with future consequences for peacekeeping operations worldwide.”[14]Another concern was raised by a group of non-governmental organizations operating in DRC about the risk that Brigade operations might further harm civilians.[15]

FIB CONOPS are framed around a “CLEAR-HOLD-BUILD” framework which is usually associated with COIN. COIN doctrine defines CLEAR-HOLD-BUILD as a phased, full spectrum, civil-military operation that combines coalition, host nation (HN) and civil actors to establish control over the population and areas in support of long term development strategy. CLEAR-HOLD-BUILD aims to develop a long-term HN government framework and presence in the area that will provide security for the people, provide for their basic needs, provide legitimate governance and address the root causes of insurgency. Obviously, this might raise a number of issues for MONUSCO and FIB on how to use a COIN framework to achieve their mandate.

Counterinsurgency Lessons for MONUSCO’s Robust Peacekeeping

The fundamental question that this essay seeks to answer is why counterinsurgency matters for MONUSCO. Both MONUSCO and ISAF placed their center of gravity or main effort on protection of civilians, although ISAF (and NATO in general), do not have detailed doctrinal guidelines on this topic. However COIN, and particularly population-centric COIN, that is exercised by ISAF is based on similar principles like the UN-developed ‘protection of civilians’ concept.[16]

Simply stated, counterinsurgency is an integrated civil-military strategy to defeat insurgency. Counterinsurgency principles include political primacy; the struggle for the population; the relevance of legitimacy; intelligence driven operations (which are at odds with the fundamental principles of UN peacekeeping; consent of the conflict parties; impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of the mandate. However, COIN and contemporary multidimensional peacekeeping environments are all characterized by a party that does not accept the legitimacy of the recognized state. While fighting for legitimacy, insurgents, rebels or guerillas seek out to win over support of the population, exposing their grievances. Insurgents, or rebels/armed groups, as usually labeled on UN operations, represent a significant threat to the peace process on contemporary peacekeeping operations.

An essential objective for MONUSCO is to gain an understanding how insurgencies/armed groups develop or begin. COIN doctrine provides two approaches for this process. One approach is the historical or classical approach that identifies three prerequisites for insurgency: a lack of government control, leadership available for direction and a vulnerable population. Contemporary studies and new COIN doctrine propose an approach where opportunity, motive and means breed insurgency in a given area.[17] Whichever approach we consider when analyzing DRC insurgencies, we will identify prerequisites as a combination of different factors that contributed to instability in DRC over the past decade. The key factor for different insurgencies over this time was centered on tribal and ethnic divisions, especially those transferred from Rwanda between Hutu and Tutsis, but also divisions between Rwandophone communities and indigenous groups in Kivu areas. Local grievances in relation to historical land disputes also contributed to an expansion of armed groups. Group leaderships were heavily influenced by political elites who used insurgencies to build their own credibility in political maneuvering in the capital, Kinshasa. Population security was another driver for insurgencies to protect these communities, either from another tribe or ethnicity or from local security forces and their abusive behavior. All these prerequisites were then fuelled with different means for running insurgency: money from the mineral trade, support from neighboring countries and internal support from local communities. In this sort of environment, recruiting for insurgency is a minor problem. When popular support for an armed group fades, they use intimidation, kidnapping and even recruitment of child soldiers from a particular local community.

The first and foremost priority for MONUSCO is to achieve its mandate: it has to provide security for the local population. One element to achieve this is to disarm or neutralize insurgents/armed groups. The second priority is to address the root causes that have continuously generated new insurgencies over the past decade. These core causes are rooted/based on the vulnerability of the local population. To tackle these, it takes more than military effort: it must include political, economic, social aspects etc. Obviously, MONUSCO has to reinforce military gains achieved over the past year (defeat of M23) through engagement of other aspects of the Mission to quickly address those root causes that will prevent generating new insurgencies. Here we have to look to ISAF lessons learned from 2006. After the initial period of ISAF expansion throughout Afghanistan, insurgency was more or less successfully contained and suppressed but, due to the hesitation of ISAF/NATO to engage other actors that were supposed to address root causes of instability, insurgency reemerged, initially in Pakistan but later also in remote areas of Afghanistan. By 2009, strong and resilient insurgency was operating throughout the country.

A gap in security is probably the single most important aspect that needs to be addressed by MONUSCO, primarily through local security capacities such as military and police. One shared aspect for ISAF COIN operations and MONUSCO’s multidimensional peacekeeping is a focus on the development of Host Nation Security Forces (HNSF) that must contribute to the establishment of legitimacy for the government. An important lesson from ISAF is to build HNSF as soon as possible in order to prepare for the transition of security responsibility. ISAF learned that successful HNSF are not confined to the military. It took years for ISAF to understand importance of local policing through Afghan National Police, not just local military operations. Something similar is happening in DRC where MONUSCO invest a great deal of effort to support local military, FARDC. Recent operations against M23 have shown some success in this field but this might be undermined if the DRC Government, supported by MONUSCO, doesn’t establish a capable local police force in insurgency contested areas. This force will reduce the local population’s vulnerability manifested through a lack of population security. This is what COIN doctrine defines as HOLD phase. After this phase, contemporary COIN doctrine suggests a BUILD phase with the emphasis on protecting the civilian population and establishing a legitimate and accountable host-nation government that is able to deliver essential services. The first principle of COIN doctrine is the need to secure the local population in areas deemed centers of gravity politically, economically, and militarily. So if MONUSCO, FARDC and Congolese Police are not able to provide security for the local population, there is a significant possibility that population will turn to insurgents or a similar alternative. ISAF has experienced the same problem and learned that the protection of civilians contributes to increased legitimacy. Additionally, indiscriminate force applied by counterinsurgent forces might turn local population toward the insurgents. MONUSCO faced this challenge already through the abusive conduct of FARDC while conducting operations in eastern DRC.  That led to a decline of legitimacy not only for the DRC Government but also for the UN’s legitimacy because they supported FARDC operations. So, the bottom line for MONUSCO is that security is achieved through effective protection of civilians by capable HNSF which then contributes to the credibility of the mission as a whole.

Population centric COIN is important to MONUSCO for one more reason. Protection of civilians (POC) is identified by UNSC Resolution 2098[18] as a key task for MONUSCO. Over the last decade, POC has become a major concern for UN Peacekeeping operations. Currently, eight UN missions have a mandate with POC tasks. To support them the UN developed “guidance and training material to prepare peacekeepers to effectively design and implement protection mandates.”[19] A key aspect for military planning and operations has become the so called POC Tier Two, described as “providing protection from physical violence, involving actions to prevent, deter, and respond to situations in which civilians are under the threat of physical violence.”[20] For handling protection risks the UN training package suggests a simple formula: reduce the threat and reduce the vulnerability. Some of the TTPs suggested in the training package to reduce the threat and vulnerability of civilians are: patrolling (including robust patrolling/night patrolling), engagement with local leadership, tactical offensive operations, seizing of belligerent ground, area domination, capture of militia leaders, mobile operating bases (COBs /TOBs), controlling key infrastructure. Just a brief examination of  these TTPs can identify similarities with ISAF COIN TTPs. Reduction of the threat seems to be a straightforward military task that requires an  assessment of the threat capabilities, intent and opportunities to harm civilians. To reduce the vulnerability of the local population requires a broad approach that might include providing essential services and other assistance for which the military is not necessarily trained or equipped. It is obvious that the military requires other actors to address the vulnerabilities of the population. MONUSCO certainly has some advantages over ISAF in this field due to the integrated organization of the UN multidimensional peacekeeping operation which brings together a number of actors under one umbrella. However, inputs for planning and analysis will have to be collected by the actors from the field where MONUSCO military forces will have a lead. These inputs might be information about root causes for insurgency so it is of crucial importance to integrate all available intelligence with the other actors and make it available to all those involved. This can lead us to conclude that intelligence gathering and distribution might become the key component of successful POC just as it is a key principle of successful counterinsurgency.

A commonly accepted task of intelligence structures is to collect information about the threat, analyze it and then disseminate intelligence to lower levels. This task within the UN has been very difficult due to the attitude within the UN that intelligence gathering is contrary to the UN ethos. MONUSCO operations, and especially FIB operations, require accurate intelligence about the armed groups upon which they plan to take offensive action. Apart from the threat (armed groups), there is a requirement for a greater understanding of the operational environment, and information about the political, economic, cultural and other factors that might help identify root causes for instability.[21] Local dynamics in DRC constitute key information requirements for UN forces in order to understand root causes for the creation and existence of armed groups. The UN has improved its strategic level analytical capabilities by creating mission structures like the Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC) and Joint Operations Centre (JOC).[22] However, there is a need for all-source analysis cells and integration structures at the tactical level. Equally important there is a need for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets that will gather important information about the operational environment and human terrain. MONUSCO’s newly acquired unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)[23] will provide some required information but we have to bear in mind that these assets are not game changers alone. UAVs were used extensively in ISAF for more than twelve years but the key intelligence still comes from the local population through effective HUMINT work. MONUSCO should also consider that UAVs will operate with significant geographical limitations in DRC due to thick foliage cover. Information received from UAVs has to be verified by human intelligence (HUMINT) assets so if MONUSCO is not be able to integrate them together, it will only achieve partial success. Tactical level intelligence gathering and processing techniques developed in ISAF produced the concept of Company Intelligence Support Teams (COIST)[24] which are a potential modus operandi for MONUSCO. COISTs are able to integrate intelligence from bottom-to-top and from top-to-bottom. They are utilized by company sized elements to process squad and platoon patrol reports and then push these up the chain-of-command for use in planning and follow on operations. Also, many different intelligence products may be regularly forwarded from higher levels to platoons for the use on patrols and other operations.

To complement intelligence work and to achieve POC as a main effort for MONUSCO, an understanding of the local culture is of paramount importance. Although UN standardized training materials stipulate the importance of cultural awareness, there are no specific TTPs to address this for peacekeepers. Some ISAF cultural awareness tools such as Human Terrain Teams (HTTs), Female Engagement Teams (FETs) and similar innovations like Key Leader Engagements (KLEs) and Company Intelligence Support Teams (CoISTs) can be applied in DRC if troop contributing nations redirect these resources to the UN. Even though the UN has a very useful tool, Military Observers (MILOBs), their training and specialization in the field of human sciences or intelligence gathering is not even close to what is usually invested in FETs, HTTs or CoISTs. On average, being regular military officers, MILOB’s training lasts about three weeks with lots of time spent on covering UN administrative procedures. On the other hand specific training programs for FETs, HTTs or CoISTs take much more time and personnel selected for such training are already specific subject matter experts. Their products are much more comprehensive for use by tactical level commanders. Also, these assets for UN use might cost considerably less than specialist UN Experts on Missions as they could be an organic part of TCC contingents[25].

The ISAF Mission is on the path for closure and 2014 will bring a significant reduction of forces, but valuable lessons should not be archived and forgotten. Many significant innovative capabilities and assets were developed over the decade-plus of ISAF existence. Over this period of time many nations, including my own, turned down the United Nation’s pleas to provide troops for UN Peacekeeping on the grounds of overstretch caused by deployments to Afghanistan. There is now an opportunity for the UN to persuade ISAF Participating Nations to contribute assets like FETs, HTTs, CoISTs, ISTAR but, even more importantly, draw on their COIN experience for missions like MONUSCO. 


“I think many of the concepts of the past counterinsurgency campaigns remain valid. But by no means all as, clearly, every situation is unique. What was valid against a Maoist form of insurgency is not necessarily as applicable to other insurgencies that have taken place. What a counterinsurgent tries to do is to understand past cases, along with the principles, if you will, that have evolved from their study, and then to apply those concepts intelligently to new, particular situations.”[26]

-Small Wars Journal Interview with General David Petraeus

As General Petraeus suggested in the interview for Small Wars Journal, we need to study concepts that evolved as direct product of innovative and creative military operations in order to adapt to similar situations. MONUSCO’s operational environment requires UN peacekeepers to maintain law and order, conduct humanitarian activities, protect human rights, promote political reconciliation, support the established governmental institutions, support nation building efforts, fight armed groups and provide security for the population. So, both counterinsurgents and peacekeepers on multidimensional peacekeeping operations must first establish a safe and stable environment in order to carry out subsequent activities like reconstruction and development or nation-building. With these requirements, implementing the mandate will require innovation and ingenuity. For more than a decade ISAF faced numerous challenges while struggling to define a proper strategy and develop operational and tactical procedures to deal with a resilient threat and inhospitable environment. These are similar challenges and obstacles to those MONUSCO have faced in DRC since 1999. Some aspects of ISAF operations, although COIN in its nature, can inform UN operations in DRC, especially when it comes to FIB operations in Eastern DRC.

End Notes

[1] Official MONUSCO web page, available at

[3] For detailed overview of development of Congo crisis, see Jason Stearns, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa.

[4] Commodities of War, Communities speak out on the true cost of conflict in eastern DRC, Oxfam Briefing Paper

[5] Rift Valley Institute Usalama Project provides number of studies focused on analysis of root causes for instability in DRC.

[6] Understanding Conflict in Eastern Congo (I): The Ruzizi Plain, Crisis Group Africa Report N°206, 23 July 2013

[7] Koen Vlassenroot, South Kivu Identity, territory, and power in the eastern Congo, Rift Valley Institute Usalama Project, page 38

[8] Jason Stearns, From CNDP to M23 The evolution of an armed movement in eastern Congo, Rift Valley Institute Usalama Project, page 56

[9] Jason Stearns, Judith Verweijenmaria, Eriksson Baaz, The national army and armed groups in the eastern Congo Untangling the Gordian knot of insecurity, Rift Valley Institute Usalama Project, page 8,10.

[11] More on info about this armed group: Jason Stearns, Raia Mutomboki, The flawed peace process in the DRC and the birth of an armed franchise, Rift Valley Institute Usalama Project

[14] The UN Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert and Fiona Blyth, International Peace Institute (IPI)

[15] Open letter to Ban Ki-Moon about the situation in D.R. Congo, available at

[17] US JP 3-24 Counterinsurgency, November 2013

[20] Ibid.

[21] Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan, by Major General Michael T. Flynn (U.S.A), Captain Matt Pottinger (U.S.M.C.), and Paul D. Batchelor (DIA), Center for a new American Security, (Jan. 2010).

[22] JMAC assists the Head of Mission (HOM) to gather and understand information available from all sources in a mission and country to produce medium and long term analysis on the actual and potential threats to mandate implementation. JOC assists the Head of Mission (HOM) to remain aware of the operational situation in the mission area. The JOC is able to produce regular and timely integrated operations reports on all aspects of the mission’s operations.

[23] UN Peacekeeping Deploys Unarmed Drones to Eastern Congo, available at

[24] Center for Army Lessons Learned, CALL Handbook Company Intelligence Support Team (2012).

[25] UN standards recognize “three main categories of military personnel on UN peacekeeping: formed military units or contingents (e.g. companies or battalions), Military Experts on Mission (United Nations Military Observers (UNMO), Military Liaison Officers (MLO), Military Advisers (MilAd) and Arms Monitors (AM)) and staff officers (perform specialized functions at the mission’s force headquarters or in joint mission structures)”.

[26] Reflections on the "Counterinsurgency Decade": Small Wars Journal Interview with General David H. Petraeus, available at


About the Author(s)

Robert Beljan is an instructor at the Peace Support Operations Training Centre (PSOTC) in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He holds a B.S. and an M.A. from the Political Science Faculty, University of Sarajevo. In 2009, he served with Danish Battle Group, Task Force Helmand in Afghanistan.



Tue, 02/25/2014 - 12:52am

In reply to by felixdz


The Congolese aren't simple and sheeplike. They perefectly know the difference between a UN Casspir killing M23 and a UN Casspir testing the water for purity. The FIB is something the UN should have done years ago and is to be applauded for doing now. As the author says, the first thing is protect the people from the throat cutters and rapists. You can't be "neutral" when doing that. You either protect the innocent and kill the bad guy or you don't. The Congolese by the way, have gotten very upset with the UN in the past when they stood around and did nothing but watch bad guys be bad. I figure they are probably pleased an FIB is around and serious about things.

I agree with Patrick Cammaert. The FIB concept will come back to haunt the UN in the future particularly the humanitarian side. You cannot be shooting people from UN vehicles on one hand and provide aid to affected populations in identical UN marked vehicles at the same time. The humanitarian side of the UN needs neutrality to function. If the Security Council thinks military force is required they should do it using a non UN coalition like INTERFET/IFOR/KFOR to conduct combat operations. Peacekeeping and war fighting are two different activities.