Tag: walls

Walls and Counterinsurgency

By Major Matt Cavanaugh

Note: I recently received this prompt from a friend working in the New Zealand government – and thought I’d try my own response.  If you’re interested in the subject, consider submitting it to the War Council.

Hey Matt, a work related question for you. According to open source reporting the Egyptian Armed Forces are building a 3 mtr high stone wall, with an additional two mtrs of barbed wire on top, around the town of el-Arish. The EAF plan to have 10 gates in the wall to control access to the town. Arish is one of the hot-spots of militant activity in the Sinai Peninsula and this looks like the EAF are trying to actually do some counter-insurgency for once (something they are not actually equipped to do). Are there any comments/ lessons learned you can offer from your time in Iraq as to what the EAF should expect in response to their wall, and the likely effectiveness of their plan?

Great question.  To give a general sense of my thinking on the subject, I’ll lead with a recent comment from Robert D. Kaplan, “Geography hasn’t gone away,” and that “in geopolitics, the past never dies and there is no modern world.”  Land – holding and controlling territory – still matters an awful lot.  Walls augment the natural environment.  So we should think about walls in the same ways we think about geography/geostrategy.

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