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A Short Response to Andrew Mackay and Steve Tatham
by Colonel Gian P. Gentile
I feel sorry for the British Army for they seem to have been taken in by the American Army's consumption with Counterinsurgency and its theoretical premise that military force can "change entire societies" for the better. Of course this quote is attributed to one of America's leading Counterinsurgency experts retired Army Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl.
The irony is that the American Coin experts in their own campaign to transform the American Army to a Counterinsurgency force from 2005 to 2007 used the British Army as an example of the proper way to do "classic" Coin: e.g., Malaya, and Sir Robert Thompson's recommendations for the United States in Vietnam. Yet as the Iraq Triumph Narrative is now written, the British Army lost their way and failed in Iraq where the Americans succeeded. Now, just as with the American Army, the British Army based on this essay by Mackay and Tatham have succumbed to the flawed theories and notions promoted by General Rupert Smith in his hugely influential but deeply flawed book The Utility of Force.
Gian Gentile is a serving American Army Colonel and teaches military history at West Point. He commanded a Cavalry Squadron in West Baghdad in 2006.