Small Wars Journal

Coming Soon: The New Counterinsurgency Era

The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars

By David H. Ucko

SWJ friend and colleague David Ucko's latest contribution to our community of interest -- to be released in August -- you can pre-order a copy at Amazon. Considering David's previous work -- this should be very good and quite an informative read.

Book Description

Confronting insurgent violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has recognized the need to "re-learn" counterinsurgency. But how has the Department of Defense with its mixed efforts responded to this new strategic environment? Has it learned anything from past failures?

In The New Counterinsurgency Era, David Ucko examines DoD's institutional obstacles and initially slow response to a changing strategic reality. Ucko also suggests how the military can better prepare for the unique challenges of modern warfare, where it is charged with everything from providing security to supporting reconstruction to establishing basic governance--all while stabilizing conquered territory and engaging with local populations. After briefly surveying the history of American counterinsurgency operations, Ucko focuses on measures the military has taken since 2001 to relearn old lessons about counterinsurgency, to improve its ability to conduct stability operations, to change the institutional bias against counterinsurgency, and to account for successes gained from the learning process.

Given the effectiveness of insurgent tactics, the frequency of operations aimed at building local capacity, and the danger of ungoverned spaces acting as havens for hostile groups, the military must acquire new skills to confront irregular threats in future wars. Ucko clearly shows that the opportunity to come to grips with counterinsurgency is matched in magnitude only by the cost of failing to do so.

About the Author

David Ucko is a transatlantic fellow at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, Germany and an adjunct fellow at the RAND Corporation, specializing in counterinsurgency, stability operations, and conflict analysis. He has previously worked as a research fellow at the Department of War Studies, King's College London, and as a deputy defense analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Early Reviews

This is an important book for anyone interested in the U.S. military's effort to learn from contemporary conflict and adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq. Ucko's thorough research and incisive analysis have produced one of the most valuable books on military affairs to appear in recent years.

--H. R. McMaster, Brigadier General select, U.S. Army and author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam

This is hot-off-the-press history, an essential look at how the Pentagon has--and has not--changed in response to the Iraq war.

--Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-08