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The Police in War: Fighting Insurgency, Terrorism, and Violent Crime

David H. Bayley and Robert M. Perito
The Police in War: Fighting Insurgency, Terrorism, and Violent Crime
ISBN: 978-1-58826-729-0
ISBN: 978-1-58826-705-4
ISBN: 978-1-62637-856-8
2010/195 pages/LC: 2009033046
"A classic text worth revisiting. —John P. Sullivan, International Journal of Police Science

"Should be required reading for any government officials contemplating intervention in a failed state or using military intervention to force a regime change."—Scott A. Pray, International Criminal Justice Review

"Eminently readable.... This is an important book for practitioners and policy-makers alike."—David Parker, RUSI Journal

"Anyone who has an interest or responsibility in the US role in international policing needs to read this book."—James "Buster" Hall, Northeastern State University

"By two of the best analysts of police reform, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding strategies and projects, this book offers invaluable insights on the challenges faced by both transnational reformers and local police and political elites."—Otwin Marenin, Washington State University

"Bayley and Perito have done a great service in providing this rigorous exploration of policing in conflict zones.... Their book is easily the best study on the topic. Anyone seeking to understand why the US lacks the ability to organize, train, and equip foreign police forces for conflict and postconflict environments would be well-advised to read The Police in War."—William Rosenau, RAND Corporation


Frustrated efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan give urgency to the question of how to craft effective, humane, and legitimate security institutions in conflict-ridden states—and whether legitimate policing can in fact be developed in the midst of insurgency and terrorism. David H. Bayley and Robert M. Perito confront these questions head on.

Against the backdrop of failed US attempts to train police forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bayley and Perito explore the role of the local police as an element of successful peace operations and counterinsurgency campaigns. Their analysis ranges from the specifics of training to the larger arena of broad institutional reform. Equally practical and grounded in theory, their work offers crucial guidance on the role and training of local police forces that must grapple daily with the challenges of ongoing conflicts.


David H. Bayley (1933-2020) was distinguished professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany, State University of New York. His numerous publications include, most recently, Changing the Guard: Developing Democratic Police Abroad and What Works in Policing. He is also author of the UN’s program for community policing in the rebuilding and reform of police in peacekeeping operations. Robert M. Perito is senior program officer at the US Institute of Peace. He served as deputy director of the US Justice Department’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program in 1995-2001, and in 1967-1995 he was a US Foreign Service officer, where his last assignment was director of the Office of International Criminal Justice. He is author of Where Is the Lone Ranger When We Need Him? America’s Search for a Post Conflict Security Force.


  • Introduction.
  • Getting It Wrong: Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • What We Should Have Learned.
  • The Role of the Police in Controlling Violence.
  • Balancing Force and Legitimacy.
  • Fundamentals of Police Training.
  • World Practice in Police Training.
  • Institutional Reform: The Larger Arena.
  • Getting It Right: Recommendations for US Policy.