Suicide attacks, ambushes, hostage-taking, improvised explosive devices, piracy and guerrilla warfare, are all characteristics of modern insurgencies. Also known as fourth generation conflicts, these wars not only occurred in Afghanistan, Mali, Iraq, Libya, but also in the former Yugoslavia and in Algeria, which was one of the French Army's first modern testing grounds.
To confront these particular types of operations, regular armies must develop new ways of operating that are effective enough to cause opponent losses, while remaining proportional and not effecting the civilian population, among whom battle takes place. Under these conditions, there is a place for artillery - despite its reputation of being a weapon of brutality par excellence.
One telling statistic from Afghanistan: 80% of all enemy losses were caused by indirect fire (close air support, attack helicopters and artillery) and the artillery itself was responsible for almost half of the insurgent dead and wounded in the French area of operations. Yet, the gunners only represented 7% of the deployed French force! In terms of cost-effectiveness, these figures speak for themselves.
Drawing on dozens of operational vignettes, the book demonstrates that a counter insurgency can be won using innovative tactics; such as faints, rouses and deception along with more traditional methods like destruction, harassment and isolation. Although often underutilized in the former, the Artillery proved itself to be ruthlessly effective when employed in an asymmetric manner.
A Marine Gunner, General Benoit ROYAL, ed. commanded the eleventh Marine Artillery Regiment at Lande d'Ouee (Ille-et-Vilaine). A student of the Joint Staff College and the Institute of Advanced Studies in National Defence, in 2013, he took command of the School of Artillery which provides training for French gunners and contributes to drafting of operational doctrine. He is also director of the literary collection "Guerres et Opinions", Economica.