Insurgency can be defined as ‘the organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region.’
Insurgents seek to subvert or displace the government and completely or partially control the resources and population of a given territory. They do so through the use of force (including guerrilla warfare, terrorism and coercion/intimidation), propa- ganda, subversion and political mobilization. Insurgents fight government forces only to the extent needed to achieve their political aims: their main effort is not to kill counterinsurgents, but rather to establish a competitive system of control over the population, making it impossible for the government to administer its territory and people. Insurgent activity is therefore designed to weaken government control and legitimacy while increasing insurgent control and influence.
Insurgents require supporters, recruits, safe havens, money, supplies, weapons and intelligence on government actions. A robust insurgency can be waged with the support of just a small percentage of a given population.
Counterinsurgency may be defined as ‘comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its root causes’.