Small Wars Journal

The New (and Old) Classics of Counterinsurgency

The New (and Old) Classics of Counterinsurgency - Laleh Khalili, Middle East Report.

... Counterinsurgency doctrine is interpreted, expanded and sometimes challenged in the proliferation of publications and blogs dedicated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One widely read blog is known by its URL, taches d'huile (oil spots), named after the anti-guerrilla tactic invented by French general Joseph Gallieni in the late nineteenth century. Gallieni's idea was that, rather than pushing forward across a broad front, the occupying army would gradually and evenly expand its control outward from a central stronghold, as oil spreads on paper. Other prolific bloggers include Abu Muqawama (nom de plume of Andrew Exum, an ex-Army Ranger who is completing a doctoral thesis on Lebanese Hizballah) and former Washington Post journalist Tom Ricks. Among the authors of books and articles are a number of active and retired military officers who publish in a range of venues, from Military Review and Small Wars Journal to think tank occasional papers series and, increasingly, university and trade press monographs. Crucially for counterinsurgency doctrine's cachet, many of these authors are soldier-scholars. Among those brandishing doctorates are Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster (North Carolina, history), retired Col. Conrad Crane (Stanford, history), retired Col. Peter Mansoor (Ohio State, military history), retired Lt. Col. John Nagl (Oxford, international relations), retired Col. Kalev Sepp (Harvard, history) and retired Lt. Col. David Kilcullen of the Australian army (New South Wales, politics). Then there is Gen. David Petraeus (Princeton, international relations), the motivating force behind the Counterinsurgency Field Manual, the only general of the post-September 11 wars whose name is bruited for the presidency...

More at Middle East Report.

Comments

Anonymous (not verified)

Sun, 07/11/2010 - 5:08am

"has anybody here read the pullitzer prize winning book Fire in the Lake? it was written in 1973 and i've seen nothing mentioned about it."

Surprised anyone knows it exists---it was a critical one to read during it's time and has implications for all COIN environments.

Anonymous (not verified)

Sun, 07/11/2010 - 5:07am

"has anybody here read the pullitzer prize winning book Fire in the Lake? it was written in 1973 and i've seen nothing mentioned about it."

Surprised anyone knows it exists---it was a critical one to read during it's time and has implications for all COIN environments.

kotkinjs1

Sun, 07/11/2010 - 3:40am

This was a great article; I especially appreciated the detail of the Malaya insurgency. It always still amazes me how much this is referred to when citing examples of successful PC COIN. People are simply lazy and will swallow anything if it comes from certain sources.

Her last two paragraphs are the <i>BLOB</i> - bottom line on bottom :o) - and one of the best definitions of COIN I've seen anywhere.

SlimRickins

Fri, 07/09/2010 - 5:58pm

has anybody here read the pullitzer prize winning book Fire in the Lake? it was written in 1973 and i've seen nothing mentioned about it.

Mike Few (not verified)

Fri, 07/09/2010 - 11:31am

Thanks Rex. I'm 0 for 2 today.

gian p gentile (not verified)

Fri, 07/09/2010 - 10:55am

Rex:

Thanks for pointing out the mistake!

So sorry to the author.

gian

gian p gentile (not verified)

Fri, 07/09/2010 - 8:39am

Mike:

Agree, and it took me a few minutes of working through the piece to figure out what he was really getting at in terms of argument and points. At the beginning I thought it was going to be a typical praise-fest over the A-Team of Coin experts, but the piece really wasn't about that at all.

gian

Mike Few (not verified)

Fri, 07/09/2010 - 6:08am

Mr. Khalili has not been introduced to the Bottom Line Up Front method. This article is not just a who's who for COIN. His thesis is found in the last line.

"Counterinsurgency is self-avowedly an update of "dual mandate" methods for our time or, in other words, a new managerial handbook of imperial rule."