Huw Bennett, one of the most astute academic observers of the British Army’s tactics and strategy during the Troubles, concludes in this study of military policy in NI, that by the mid-1970’s the army had lost the Catholic community, handing the Provisional IRA the wherewithal to fight a long war:
‘By March 1972, the army largely believed Catholics in the Province were troublemakers. Those who complained about the army were simply liars controlled by the IRA. Soldiers could do no wrong; those who made obvious errors by hurting or killing the innocent were forced to do so by devious Republican tricks. This article begins by exploring how these convictions came to dominate in Headquarters (HQ) Northern Ireland, and what the army tried to do about a suspected smear campaign against soldiers.’
You can read the full article here.