This text is the first to categorize armed groups and analyze their characteristics in a systematic way to provide a thorough overview of all types of armed groups and the role they play in today's security environment. Drawing on international case studies and histories, it analyzes the objectives, strategies, and internal composition of armed groups and the environments that foster them.
Peter G. Thompson is associate professor of international security studies at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University, Washington, DC.
1. Introduction Importance of the Topic What Are "Armed Groups"? Book Objectives Armed Groups and International Relations Theory Conclusion Discussion Questions Recommended Reading Notes 2. Conflict in the Twenty-First Century Interstate Conflict Decreasing The "New War" Paradigm? Irregular Warfare Role of Geopolitical and Geostrategic Factors US Participation in Intrastate Conflicts Armed-Group Threats to the United States Discussion Questions Recommended Readings Notes 3. What Are Armed Groups? Distinguishing Between Armed Groups and State Militaries Common Armed-Group Characteristics Armed-Group Formation Challenging the "Nonstate Actor" Label Discussion Questions Organization Membership Ideology Objectives Discussion Questions Recommended Readings Notes 4. Armed-Group Archetypes Insurgents Terrorists Transnational Criminal Organizations Militias "Commercial" Armed Groups Evolution, "Hybridization," and the Crime-Terror Nexus Discussion Questions Recommended Readings Notes 5. Internal Characteristics Leadership Organization Membership Ideology Objectives Discussion Questions Recommended Readings Notes 6. External Characteristics Strategy Tactics Strategic Communications External Support Discussion Questions Recommended Readings Notes 7. Combating Armed Groups Combating Grievances and the Environment Military, Political, Legal, and Economic Constraints on Governments General Countering Strategies Combating the Armed Group Conclusion Discussion Questions Recommended Readings Notes 8. Conclusion Armed-Group Adaptation and Evolution Future Armed-Group Threats Combating Armed Groups Three Questions Recommended Readings Notes Bibliography Index