For the past six years, the military buzzwords have been "counterinsurgency (COIN)," "irregular warfare," and "unconventional operations," with great emphasis placed on stabilization and reconstruction. Although counterinsurgency is hardly a new topic, the combination of counterinsurgency with stabilization and reconstruction, also referred to as nation-building, has produced a dynamic that has not been encountered before in this nation's history.
The United States was heavily involved in nation-building in both Germany and Japan after World War II yet, in those instances, faced no organized insurgency. The same was true in Korea, Vietnam, and even in our more limited operations in Grenada and Panama. Each had semi-functional governments in place. Although dealing with substantial enemy forces, minimal nation-building was required in developing their governments politically and economically. The United States was not starting from scratch.