Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare by David H. Ucko and Robert Egnell, Columbia University Press (Available October 2013).
The British military--long considered the masters of counterinsurgency--encountered significant problems in Iraq and Afghanistan when confronted with insurgent violence. In their efforts to apply the principles and doctrines of past campaigns, they failed to prevent Basra and Helmand from descending into lawlessness, criminality, and violence.
By juxtaposing the deterioration of these situations against Britain’s celebrated legacy of counterinsurgency, this investigation identifies both the contributions and limitations of traditional tactics in such settings, exposing a disconcerting gap between ambitions and resources, intent and commitment. Building upon this detailed account of the Basra and Helmand campaigns, this volume conducts an unprecedented assessment of British military institutional adaptation in response to operations gone awry. It calls attention to the effectiveness of insurgent tactics and the danger of ungoverned spaces shielding hostile groups and underscores the need for military organizations to acquire new skills for meeting the irregular threats of future wars.
David H. Ucko is associate professor at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University. Robert Egnell is visiting professor and director of teaching in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.
On Edit: Be on the lookout next week for a SWJ interview with David Ucko and Robert Egnell by Octavian Manea.