What Exactly is an Armed Group?

The two words - armed and group - are clear enough and, when used together, conjure up any manner of mental images.  This edited collection will consider armed groups to include classic insurgents, terrorists, guerrillas, militias, police agencies, criminal organizations, war-lords, privatized military organizations, mercenaries, pirates, drug cartels, apocalyptic religious extremists, orchestrated rioters and mobs, and tribal factions.

With this broad definition we will need an equally broad set of disciplines with which to study armed groups.  History, political science, anthropology, sociology, theology and economics are traditional areas of research.  We will also delve into matters of ethics, technology, intelligence, education, the law, diplomacy, military science, and even mythology.  

The book is divided into five sections:

  • History and armed groups,
  • Present context and environment,
  • Religion as inspiration,
  • Thinking differently about armed groups, and
  • The shape of things to come.

With one exception, each of these chapters was written exclusively for this volume.  The contributors, all renowned in their fields and noted for their authorship and influential opinions, were individually invited to write for this edited collection.  Some of the contributors are best-selling authors.  Others revered academics.  Others are frequently on television and radio news programs.  Still others spent decades doing highly classified work and considered notoriety an anathema.  As a result, the reader will find this anthology rich with academic rigor, practitioner experiences, endnotes, and citations for further research and study.

The future is full of uncertainty and the implications are grave for national security. Armed groups are merely one vestige of mankind's struggles in an increasingly smaller world. Prevention of hostilities or rapid resolution thereof demands new solutions. Consequently, we must start thinking about tomorrow's challenges today.  George Will, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and political scientist, said, "The future has a way of arriving unannounced." The purpose of this volume is to prepare ourselves for when we discover, unexpectedly, that the future is here.

Jeffrey H. Norwitz, Editor  

ISBN 978-1-884733-52-9

ISBN 978-1-884733-52-9



Jeffrey H. Norwitz, ed. Armed Groups: Studies in National Security, Counterterrorism, and Counterinsurgency. (Newport: Naval War College, 2008) ISBN: 978-1-884733-52-9