Small Wars Journal

Pros and cons on Galula model

Tue, 11/23/2010 - 8:52am
In response to the interest raised on the relevance of the Galula model for understanding and dealing with today's insurgencies, I conducted a brief inquiry with key experts on the topic - Peter Mansoor, Steven Metz, David Betz, and Alex Marshall.

Dr. Peter Mansoor

The Galula model applies in those cases where the population of a country is more concerned about the effectiveness and legitimacy of its government than in its sectarian or ethnic make-up. "Classic" counterinsurgency efforts to improve the legitimacy of a government are then operative. In those cases where sectarian or ethnic identity trumps other factors (e.g., Sri Lanka or Chechnya), then protecting the people will avail the counterinsurgent little in the way of gaining their trust and confidence. In these cases, other strategic or operational approaches need to be considered.

Iraq was not a clear cut case in either direction. Although the Sunnis were initially opposed to the coalition's efforts to stabilize Iraq, they eventually supported American efforts to protect them from violence and intimidation during the surge in 2007 and 2008. In Afghanistan it is too early to tell whether or not the Pashtuns can be reconciled to the government in Kabul. As in Iraq in 2006, I think it would be premature to claim definitively that a counterinsurgency campaign focused on protecting the people will or will not work. Dr. Peter Mansoor (COL US Army ret.) is the Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair in Military History, Ohio State University.

Dr. Steven Metz

To me, the Cold War/Maoist model of insurgency applied in situations where new segments of a society were becoming politically aware or mobilized and thus made demands on the state which it could not fulfill. These demands were both tangible--infrastructure, security, education--and intangible (a sense of identity). That's why I think it has very little applicability to current insurgencies. Granted current insurgencies attempt to emulate the Maoist strategy because it worked in the past, but I think this will lead to failure. Dr. Steven Metz is Research Professor of National Security Affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute.

Dr. David Betz

The work of the French officer David Galula was clearly very influential on the thinking of the authors of FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency. There is certainly a lot to like. For one thing, his book Counterinsurgency Warfare is less than 150 pages long which makes it an easy read—four cups of tea and a Sunday afternoon will get you through it. For another, it's written in a very aphoristic style which is highly memorable. So if you're trying to get across to a large number of people a number of 'best practices' or paradoxes of COIN then Galula is a very good assigned reading. The truth is though that most COIN best practice would fit on a bumper sticker. In fact the new UK Field Manual on COIN comes with a laminated credit card sized aide memoire on one side of which are printed the principles of COIN and on the other ISAF's game plan for stabilizing Afghanistan. I'm not criticizing—I think it's a handy thing; my point is rather that Galula and his interpreters sometimes sound a bit like Kipling's 'Just So' stories. In practice, it's complicated, as one sees in Galula too if you read his longer, messier, more ambiguous and more rewarding book Pacification in Algeria. Anyway, to get to the point I have three main reservations about Galula.

First, as Thomas Rid observes in his recent essay 'The 19th Century Origins of Counterinsurgency Doctrine' in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Galula was essentially interpreting 100 years of French practice, Bugeaud, Lyautey and Gallieni, for an American audience. However revolutionary it seemed at Harvard and RAND in the early 1960s it would not have seemed so at the time in France. Nor for that matter, in the UK which had a subtly different tradition of pacification of 'uncivilized peoples' as C.E. Callwell put it in his classic Small Wars, Their Principles and Practice. Somewhat counter-intuitively, personally, I find such authors writing from the era of the 'Belle Epoque' to be even more relevant to our day than those dealing with the post-war era of decolonization.

Second, I've always felt that, whatever else his contributions, Galula was responsible for perhaps the most fundamental and widespread theoretical mistake in the literature when he talked about propaganda: 'The asymmetrical situation has important effects on propaganda. The insurgent, having no responsibility, is free to use every trick... Consequently, propaganda is a powerful weapon for him... The counterinsurgent is tied to his responsibilities and to his past, and for him, facts speak louder than words... For him, propaganda can be no more than a secondary weapon, valuable only if intended to inform and not to fool.' Such a reactive mindset is a heavy burden to bear in an era of intensely mediatised conflicts such as those which we are fighting now.

Third, following from the above, and most importantly, Galula is really talking about the Maoist model at the core of which is the biggest bumper sticker of them all: 'The population is the prize!' Is it really? What is 'it', for that matter? As my colleague John Mackinlay has argued in his recent book The Insurgent Archipelago we are now faced with a form of insurgency which is 'Post-Maoist'. Maoist insurgent objectives were national, whereas post Maoist objectives are global; the population involved in a Maoist insurgency is manageable (albeit with difficulty) whereas the populations (note the plural) involved in Post Maoist insurgency are dispersed and unmanageable; the centre of gravity in Maoist insurgency is local or national whereas in Maoist insurgency it is multiple and possibly irrelevant; the subversion process in Maoist insurgency is top down whereas in Post Maoist insurgency it is bottom up; Maoist insurgent organization is vertical and structured whereas Post Maoist is an unstructured network; and whereas Maoist insurgency takes place in a territorial context, the Post Maoist vital terrain is virtual. I don't find Galula especially relevant to all this; indeed in point of fact I find him unhelpful on the matter of propaganda.

There are other more relevant people to be reading and challenging. The social theorist Manuel Castells most importantly. He argues that de-territorialized insurgency is the paradigmatic conflict type of the Information Age. 'The conflicts of our time,' he says, 'are fought by networked social actors aiming to reach their constituencies and target audiences through the decisive switch to multimedia communications networks.' If that sounds like academic fancy consider that Britain's Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, appears to think the same thing, as he argued in a speech last year at the IISS 'Conflict today, especially because so much of it is effectively fought through the medium of the Communications Revolution, is principally about and for People—hearts and minds on a mass scale.'

To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what Richards understands by 'hearts and minds on a mass scale' but even so I have the impression that he thinks we have moved quite a long way from Pacification in Algeria, and so do I. Dr. David Betz is Senior Lecturer in the Department of War Studies, King's College, London.

Dr. Alex Marshall

My issue with the Maoist Paradigm is really two-fold.

My first reservation, as a historian, is that we lack a definitive English-language study of Maoist insurgency itself beyond some fairly stereotyped notions of a three-stage or five-stage revolutionary process (from political agitation to guerrilla conflict to regular warfare). Galula and Thompson were great generalizers, but one can scarcely call their work proper historical studies-their general view was that Maoist-style insurgencies involved a degree of mass brainwashing for example. We possess some interesting case studies of how Maoist mobilization worked in practice on the ground, in individual villages or Shanghai for example, but there is so much more that could be done. Thus Western writing during the Cold War in general generated a shorthand stereotype, when in reality insurgency practice was often more diverse. The reason was simple I suggest-most successful insurgents aren't particularly pithy writers (Guevara and Mao were exceptions), most unsuccessful ones are very quickly dead.

My second concern is more overarching however. The majority of discourse on COIN doesn't take into account the strategic context, remaining locked into the operational level instead. So for example most COIN theory today invokes the importance of institution building (essentially state building, though no longer a state 'we' own), but ignores the broader neoliberal economic context which robs states of many of the tools that they had in the past. It's pretty hard for any government to earn credibility in the eyes of it's own population if private security firms are running rampant along the highways. It's also pretty hard to generate traditional carrots if IMF and World Bank advice is to privatise everything that isn't nailed down (and most of what is), even in a state that is already as capacity poor as Afghanistan. Ha-Joon Chang is eloquent on some of these crazy economic models. On top of that, one must add the proliferation of actors and agendas in any modern western intervention makes the implementation of the older COIN models problematic, as PRTs in Afghanistan for example demonstrate in microcosm. So I would suggest that the majority of writing on COIN remains enemy centric, that is to say that it remains focused on the insurgent him/herself. Here is here a reasonable debate as to whether many insurgencies really remain traditionally 'Maoist', with a fair degree of talk of transnational actors and global jihadists and the fact that mobilizing vast numbers may no longer be important, but actually still a relatively shallow base of historical knowledge. But there is much less discussion of how the strategic situation of the major counter-insurgent force-now typically an intervening major western power-has changed radically in ways which make applying COIN, whether 'counter-Maoist COIN' or some vaguely updated concept, much more problematic. To paraphrase Paul Rogers, we've sleepwalked into a Cold War-era model of 'liddism' (intervening to 'keep a lid' on radicalisation), when dealing with problems that are both more diverse that that, and also not necessarily resolvable using the now not-very-joined-up Western strategic context. Dr. Alex Marshall is Lecturer in History at the University of Glasgow. He has published recently "Imperial nostalgia, the liberal lie, and the perils of postmodern counterinsurgency", Small Wars & Insurgencies, June 2010, Vol 21, No. 2, 233 — 258.


Bill C. (not verified)

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 7:01pm


"As long as they don't cause trouble, nobody is going to exert the effort to convert them. The payoff is not worth the effort."

a. I do not think that this is the way that we look at such things now. Now we believe that waiting to act until a problem in a country or a region festers into something that "causes trouble" is both illogical and way, way too costly. Thus, we seek to work (more proactively today) in strategic areas of the world where we believe that "trouble" might emerge.

"Afghanistan is economically irrelevant. Its outlier status poses no economic threat to the globalized world and it has noting that the globalized world needs. That is why it was ignored until 9/11 ... "

b. I believe our take on this now is much the same as I have attempted to explain at my paragraph "a" above, to wit: Having imprudently waited until Afghanistan festered into something that "caused trouble," we have paid, and are paying, much too high a price.

Could it be that considerations such as these (the need to act proactively and preemptively -- so as to avoid a much higher expenditure of blood and treasure); these are the reason why such things as state-building, (preemptive) COIN and Galula are in globalization-vogue today?

I wouldn't place3 so much weight on the speeches of politicians. The "war" between globalization and tribalism is over; it was over before it started. Globalization won. There are still a few places on the edges, for the most part not because populaces are clinging to tradition, but because leaders and dominant groups don't want to surrender power. Most of these outliers are economically irrelevant, and there is neither haste or pressure to bring them into the fold. As long as they don't cause trouble, nobody is going to exert the effort to convert them. The payoff isn't worth the cost.

Afghanistan is economically irrelevant. Its outlier status poses no economic threat to the globalized world and it has nothing the globalized world needs. That's why it was ignored until 9/11. If not for 9/11 it would be ignored today... a few would worry over the rights of women or exploded Buddhas, but nobody goes to war over such things.

Do you really think anyone cares about bringing Zimbabwe or Chad, Myanmar or North Korea into the globalized world?

Bill C. (not verified)

Fri, 11/26/2010 - 1:58pm

The overall course of action that we are set on today -- in Afghanistan and elsewhere -- would not seem to have been established because of Al Qaeda or by 9/11.

Rather the foundation for this general direction and course of action seems to have been determined -- and set -- a good while back. Consider this article by Andrew Bacevich in 1999 entitled "Policing Utopia: The Military Imperatives of Globalization."

Herein, I took particular note -- not only of the justification for achieving "openness" in foreign lands -- but also the depiction by then-President Bill Clinton that NATO, even then, was perceived as being in "a great battle between the forces of integration and disintegration; between the forces of globalism versus tribalism; of oppression against empowerment."

Now consider the statement of May 27, 2010, by present-day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; wherein, she echoes this openness/globalization-based justification from the 1990's, to wit: "We are in a race between the forces of integration and the forces of disintegration and we see this everyday."…

Thus, might I suggest that we consider this over-arching "opening/integrating" context, strategy and agenda; as we render our determination as to whether Galula -- or other theorists/practioners -- have relevance regarding our goals for the 21st Century.

(P.S. Former Pres B. Clinton would seem to still be on-board. Consider this statement by him as recently as June 2010:

"I know I sound like a broken record, but the 21st Century is going to be vast contest between the forces of integration and disintegration. "Stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off" is not boing to be an option.")

Anonymous (not verified)

Fri, 11/26/2010 - 7:52am

We would be further along in the discussions around COIN if the conversations would center far more effectively on "conflict ecosystems" and "open source warfare" that truely reflects the generational shift in warfare in the 21st century. It is amazing that this shift is being shown to us globally in any number of ways an yet we run from a thorough discussion of it.

Small articles like this one from John Robb shows us that in fact the shift has occurred and gives us the terminology to discuss those changes and yet we run from the discussion-begs the question as to why-especially when in a key blog site in Europe the concept is gaining acceptance. Why do Europeans seem to get it and we here in the US run from it?

When will we fully understand that the "enemy" does in fact speak to us-- it is just we for some reason tend to ignor it---goes to a 2008 article "read their lips".

...the open source jihad is America's worst nightmare. Al Qaeda (AQAP Inspire).

Earlier this year, al Qaeda formally announced that it had adopted open source warfare (a new, extremely potent theory of 21st Century warfare that makes it possible for a large number of small autonomous groups to defeat much larger enemies) as its preferred method of conducting its insurgency against the west.

The adoption of open source jihad led the organization to launch a new english language magazine called Inspire. This magazine, filled with tools (software, etc.), techniques, and philosophy (on how to carry out open source jihad), demonstrated its desire to shift its role from closed leadership (of operations) to coaching small groups to act on their own. It also led al Qaeda to make a demonstration (an attack) that could provide a plausible promise for its open source collaborators/partners.

Systems Disruption and Parcel Bombs

To bring down America we do not need to strike big. phobia that is sweeping America, it is more feasible to stage smaller attacks that involve less players and less time to launch. Al Qaeda's Inspire e-Zine

To provide a plausible promise (proof that open source warfare can be successful against the enemy), al Qaeda turned to systems disruption. Systems disruption, a major part of open source warfare theory, is a method of attack that uses a knowledge of networks to amplify the damage of the attack. With systems disruption, even small attacks (that cost little and generate little risk to the group) can have national or global impact. As such, it's perfect for the type of attack made by the small autonomous groups within an open source insurgency. It also has a proven track record, in conflicts from Mexico to Nigeria. It works.

Al Qaeda's choice of a demonstration was to use parcel bombs (called Operation Hemorrhage -- a classic name for a systems disruption attack). These low cost parcel bombs, were inserted into the international air mail system to generate a security response by western governments. It worked. The global security response to this new threat was massive.

Returns on Investment (ROIs)

Part of effective systems disruption is a focus on ROI (return on investment) calculations. As paraphrased in Inspire: it is such a good bargain for us to spread fear amongst the enemy and keep him on his toes in exchange of a few months of work and a few thousand bucks. We knew that cargo planes are staffed by only a pilot and a co-pilot, so our objective was not to cause maximum casualties but to cause maximum losses to the American economy. (this shift is a clear attempt to avoid limitations of blood and guts terrorism by adopting systems disruption as outlined in this article)

To demonstrate this ROI, Inspire listed the costs of the investment in the operation:

•Printers: $300 each
•Nokia mobile phones: $150 each
•Shipping and transportation: short $$
•TOTAL COST: $4,200
It's pretty clear that the security costs inflicted as a result of this operation are counted in the millions of dollars, making for an impressive return on investment for the operation. ROIs from systems disruption can reach one million to one.

Given this successful demonstration attack, we should expect to see many more attacks that employ systems disruption in the future as open source jihadis adopt the method.

NOTE: My intent with developing open source warfare, systems disruption, etc. back in 2004-6 was do what JFC Fuller did with armored warfare in the early 1930's: to develop a truly modern theory of warfare that reflected trends already in motion. Apparently that is proving to be the case as insurgents adopt it from Nigeria's MEND to al Qaeda. Perversely, the US gov't had a head-start on this given my presentations to the DoD/CIA/NSA and even a House Armed Services Committee appearance, but they squandered it.

CAN COIN BE SO HARD?---why do we need so many think tanks, why so many different defense contractor provided solutions, why so many different view points---WHEN it is so simple?

Maybe that is the solution--it is in fact so simple we think it needs to have a deep and meaningful theoritical background---when in fact the otherside is actually telling us what they are doing and expecting us to ignor them--which we are doing a great job at.

<i>shocking embarrassment to Spanish turned out in their finery in Manila when a rumpled mob of farmers, fishermen and woodsmen "marched" in for the surrender ceremony</i>

It saved them the far greater embarrassment of surrendering to Filipinos, which they would have had to do in short order. The lesser of two horrors.

<i>Its not like the Saudis give the US free or discounted oil in return for our protection and development of their resource.</i>

Our payoff for protecting the resource is in keeping it out of the hands of those who would use it as a weapon against us and in the hands of those who are willing to do reasonable business. That makes a difference: Saddam taking control of the energy resources of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE would have been a highky undesirable outcome, to put it mildly. We didn't go into that war to protect the Saudis, we went into it to protect ourselves. They also toss us a wee carrot now and then, like a few tens of billions in arms purchases to keep our munitions industry afloat.

US companies do a great deal of work in developing Saudi oil, but it's not aid or charity; they are paid extremely well for it. Saudi contracts are much sought after, for good reason.

<i>If entanglements are fueling the fire of terrorism, becoming more entangled is not likely the way to reduce terrorism. </i>

Agreed, and I wish someone in authority had thought of that when the "regime change" idea first came up.

Bob's World

Thu, 11/25/2010 - 3:56am

Bill C.

The U.S. has always been a nation built on foreign commerce. Granted, we have moved from an economy where we needed markets for products produced from our own resources, and an exporter of raw resources to one where we are more a consumer of the products and raw resources of others; but reliant all the same.

When we had no Navy we were totally at the mercy of larger nations with Navies; and even small nations that exerted local maritime power (that we typically called "Piracy"}. So we built a navy. U.S. Imperialism at the turn of that last century was far more about extending out naval influence than garnering colonies that were producers of resources. Cuba extended influence into the Caribbean. The best protected harbors in the Pacific were in Hawaii, Guam, Samoa and the Philippines; and we snatched them all up in a single swoop. (Historical footnote, it was the Oregon Volunteers who went ashore in both Guam and the Philippines and took the surrender of the Spanish Garrisons in both - shocking embarrassment to Spanish turned out in their finery in Manila when a rumpled mob of farmers, fishermen and woodsmen "marched" in for the surrender ceremony).

To this day far more of our foreign military presence is still about securing sea lanes for commerce than it is about resources. Its not like the Saudis give the US free or discounted oil in return for our protection and development of their resource. We buy it, and use the military to ensure it moves in a secure, predictable manner, not to take it from the owners.

So we are not so different now than we were in the beginning; it is just that now we find ourselves encumbered with a lot of Cold War baggage and residual friction from the same. The best way to ease the friction is to recognize we don't need much of this baggage anymore and get rid of it. Which brings us back to the wisdom of President Washington. If entanglements are fueling the fire of terrorism, becoming more entangled is not likely the way to reduce terrorism. Reducing and changing the nature of those relationships is. One can learn this from Galula, while Tranquier would be more in approval with our current approach.

In fact, we are arguably executing a global Tranquier-like strategy; while currently trying to employ Galula-like tactics on the ground. Not a mix that is apt to work. I would suggest more a Galula-like strategy globally is what we are really missing; with far less engagement on the ground all together.


Wed, 11/24/2010 - 10:35pm

Bill C:

Given that the "if" side of the equation is hypothetical and unsupported by evidence, what does that make the "thus" side?

Bill C. (not verified)

Wed, 11/24/2010 - 1:02pm

COL Jones:



a. The will of the people in various strategic countries is that they wish to retain -- or achieve -- a more closed, controllable, exclusive and/or unique society.

b. And if the populations of these countries then install a legitimate government, to wit: one that acts enthusiastically, efficiently and effectively to carry out the wishes of these populations (to wit: to retain -- or achieve -- a more closed, exclusive and independent society).

Then how might the societies of the great and rising powers of today -- who require massive and increasing amounts of resources from the lands and populations of these strategic foreign countries -- reasonably be able to sustain themselves without interventions such as we see today?


a. An important difference and distinction from Washington's time? (Then the USA is a very small and a very new country with fewer outside needs.)

b. And, therefore, a very different calculation as to what is necessary to achieve national security for the United States then -- as opposed to today?

Thus, it would appear that the requirements and mandates of the great and rising powers of today (to better open up -- so as to better utilize -- strategic foreign lands and peoples); these seem to fly in the face of the various countries and peoples who (1) do not wish to see their lives thus transformed, (2) do not wish to see their independence, uniqueness and sovereignty thereby lost and (3) do not wish to have to re-configure themselves and their societies such that they might better service and support this, that or any great/rising foreign power.

How do (we) (would Galula) square this circle?

Bob's World

Wed, 11/24/2010 - 9:51am


I personally do not see the US as the insurgent or the counterinsurgent, either one.

What I see is that in today's world it is much easier to organize and execute common efforts against a common foe among disparate populaces that are each experiencing their own personal conditions of insurgency in their relationships with their own governments.

It is human nature to look for external sources to pin fault upon. Little kids do this when caught being naughty, addicts do it to rationalize their own role in their own addiction; politicians do it to stay in office/power. The US would be foolish to think that our "allies" when faced with internal discontent are not quick to throw the US under the bus as the source of the problem. Our opponents are even quicker (as chuckleheads like Chavez and Ahmadinejad display regularly). This is natural, just as insurgency is natural.

So while not a "global insurgency" (IMO), US foreign policy does affect the entire globe. This makes it easy for a guy like Bin Laden to employ the tools of globalization and leverage the discontent of a wide range of populaces (from large to small; from AFPAK Pashtuns, to Saudi Sunnis, to Yemen, to Libya, to the Muslim neighborhoods of Europe, etc) to act out to help break the support of the US to the nearer forces that they struggle most against.

The U.S. reaction is to support the Tranquier-like efforts of these allied governments to counter their nationalist insurgents under the name of "counterterrorism."
This actually serves in many ways to validate the claims against the US and our foreign policy. We become, in effect, the protectors of the oppressors in the eyes of much of the populace, and certainly in that of the entire insurgent segment of those populaces (which may be a relatively small segment of the whole).

The U.S. definitely needs to keep the heat on the heart of the UW campaign, but this must be narrowly focused on the core of AQ and the nodes of their UW network used to leverage the insurgencies of others.

The U.S. needs to look hard at our approach to foreign policy and re-tune and re-fine Cold War positions that long out of date and too often inappropriate for waging peace in a globalized world as they were designed for waging Cold War in a Bi-Polar one.

The US needs to work with allies challenged by Insurgency; not to make them better at defeating challenges to their despotism, but in a more neutral role that is more in line with our core principles as a nation, and that heeds President Washington's warnings on foreign entanglements. (The Cold War demanded massive entanglement to contain the threats of that era; those same entanglements are feeding the threats of this era). We must evolve and get closer to our own core. We don't realize how far we've drifted from it as it has been a gradual process over 3 generations, and we see the current as normal. It is not normal.

Anyway, there is still great value in Galula for those who can read and think about it free from an Iraq context. One also must apply the factors of the change of mission from one of sustaining puppets in power to one of achieving a stability that comes from legitimacy born of the local populace rather than U.S. fiat. Lastly we must appreciate how the tools of globalization empower such populace based movements and those who would seek to exploit them.

slapout9 (not verified)

Tue, 11/23/2010 - 10:27pm

"Also, like Tranquier, we too are blinded by our own righteousness so that we cannot see our role in causation as clearly as we should." by Robert C. Jones

Thats right, in a way we (US) are the Insurgents but it is very difficult for us to see it that way, but the enemy surely does.

Bill C. (not verified)

Tue, 11/23/2010 - 5:41pm

If the most powerful nations in the world (to wit: "great powers" like USA, China, Russia), along with their allies, determine that they are going to "create" a new world order -- one that better serves the wants, needs and desires of their societies --

And if these nations then deployed their instruments of power to "bring people together" and to, otherwise, achieve this goal --

Then might one suggest that this then becomes:

a. The new strategic context for international affairs,

b. The new mission of the intervening powers and, understandably and correspondingly,

c. The new casus belli and casus feoderis for those who are either unwilling or unable to accept such an integration process?

Therefore, should we not view both (1) the insurgencies and terrorism that develops herein, and (2) Galula's relevence today, from this perspective?

Bob's World

Tue, 11/23/2010 - 2:08pm

Sometimes I believe people take "Maoist Insurgency" far too literally. After all, this is not something Mao invented, it is something that he discovered, described and applied to advance his cause. Insurgency is a natural condition that is as old as mankind coming together as a unit and submitting to some leadership of the same. The specific steps he describes and ideology applied were what worked for that time, place and culture. He studied those who had gone before him, with the American Revolutionary experience being a great source of inspiration in helping him in his discovery process.

The counterinsurgent is too often blinded by his own legality and righteousness to see the truth of the situation. Look at Tranquier as an example. He was not a counterinsurgency guy, he was a counterinsurgent guy. Huge difference. He saw the populace as a mere medium in which insurgency occured, the failures of local government as unimportant, and he levied blame for insurgency on the external party that was there conducting UW to exploit the condtions of insurgnecy that had been created by the French themselves. He was blind to the causation that Galula described fairly well. He was a Pied Piperist. Believed that it was some stranger coming to town with a magic flute of ideology leading otherwise satisfied people into insurgency doom. Crazy.

No, the problem is not Galula, the problem for the US is that our current doctrine captures Galula's teachings largely in the context of the experiences of our conventional community in Iraq. Also, like Tranquier, we too are blinded by our own righteousness so that we cannot see our role in causation as clearly as we should.

slapout9 (not verified)

Tue, 11/23/2010 - 12:29pm

Tukhachevskii,you beat me to the punch. That is why Cops understand COIN so well. It is the MOTIVE to fight in the first place that has to be addressed. That is why Bob's World is essentially correct, it is about Good Government.

From Page 14 of Galula under the nature of the cause. "Power invested in an Oligarchy,whether indigenous or foreign, is potential ground for revolutionary war."

Most of what Galula wrote has little or anything to do with Mao. It has a lot to do with basic Communist Revolutionary War theory.


Tue, 11/23/2010 - 12:28pm


Much credit to the editors for organizing a second look at Galula.

Bill C. (not verified)

Tue, 11/23/2010 - 12:21pm

United States foreign policy goals:

"To 'create' a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community."

Secretary Clinton in her speech at the Council of Foreign Relations on Sep 8, 2010:

"Solving foreign policy problems today requires us to think regionally and globally, to see the intersection and connectons linking nations and regions and interests, and to 'bring people together' as only America can."

Dr. Marshall: "The majority of discourse on COIN does not take into account the strategic context ... "

RCJ: "I will add that the one critical thing that has changed ... is the mission of the intervening powers."

Should we consider that Dr. Marshall's "strategic context" and RCJ's "mission of the intervening powers" is described by the US foreign policy goals and Clinton speech quotes noted above?"

If so, then can we then find the "cause" of current and near-term future insurgency(ies), as Tukhachevskii suggests, contained therein?


Tue, 11/23/2010 - 11:52am

I'm always surprised when people talk about Galula and discuss his conditions for insurgencies and forget to mention....No. 1: the cause. It's all very well to pooh-pooh Galula on historical, methodological and professional grounds but that aspect of insurgency is as highly imporant as it usually ignored.

Bob's World

Tue, 11/23/2010 - 10:09am

Interesting to see what people are thinking, and how their training, background and experience shapes those thoughts. I owe a more detailed comment, but don't have time currently. My initial assessment, however, is that while Dr. Marshall raises some great points, that Dr.s Mansoor, Metz and Betz largely missed the mark.

I will add that the one critical thing that has changed for intervening powers in the insurgencies of others (which I refuse to call COIN as is the vogue since Iraq) is the mission of the intervening power. Historically it has been to retain the illegitimate government that they had previously put in power, or sustained in power, to serve their interests in that region. Today such co-option of local processes of legitimacy are arguably the primary fuel to the fire of international terrorism that plagues the west.

Today the mission should not be to retain the illegitimate in power (ala Mr. Karzai to name but one), but rather to empower the populace and the government to work together to shape a government that is as well recognized within its own borders as it is out. Then to work with whatever government that might turn out to be without ruining the entire process by overly seeking to control its outcome. I suspect Galula would grasp this straight away.