As I am currently conducting an internship at the US Mission to NATO, I have not had much time to dedicate to my research. But I have managed to go to NATO's library during my lunch breaks. NATO's library holds a great number of books on insurgency and counterinsurgency. Moreover, these books are often grouped into a series of thematic bibliographies. One of my favorites is the one on irregular warfare. The library also develops a series of online guides, on subjects such as counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.
Looking through the thematic bibliography on counterinsurgency forces one to conclude that the study of irregular warfare is quite affected by terminological trends and fads. Year by year, the books often respond to the latest foreign policy debate. Being policy relevant is a laudable endeavor, but this should not come at the expense of analytical rigor. Rather than these two interests having to be balanced, I believe the former should be based on the latter -- policy guidance that is not based on analytical rigor could even be considered unethical.
The first step towards analytical rigor is conceptual clarity, and I ( and others) believe this is currently lacking in counterinsurgency studies and irregular warfare studies writ large. I would argue that those who seek to study current events should always critically examine the concepts they employ, especially when these concepts are borrowed from governments and the press. When scholars do not have the benefit of hindsight, they should always ask whether other concepts (terms and definitions) could better describe and differentiate their objects of study. We could start, for example, by asking: what is counterinsurgency? And then move on to asking: what is the opposite of counterinsurgency? With these answers in hand, we could then develop a universal conceptualization of counterinsurgency ready to be made operational in the study of any historical period, even the current one.