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The Daily Show: LTC John Nagl

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LTC John Nagl - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 23 August 2007

On Counterinsurgency -- US Army Field Manual 3-24 / Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 33.3.5



LTC John Nagl on Jon Stewart - John Robb, Global Guerrillas

Learning to Eat Soup with Jon Stewart - Mark Safranski, Zenpundit

Army LTC John Nagl interviewed on The Daily Show - Otto, Excalibur

LTC John Nagl on the Daily Show - Mountainrunner, Mountainrunner

John Nagl on the Daily Show - Abu Muqawama, Abu Muqawama

Here's a Keeper - Bruce McQuain, QandO

Fourth Generation Warfare on the Jon Stewart Show. No, Really... - Alex Evans, Global Dashboard

Lt. Col. John Nagl - Tom Bowler, Libertarian Leanings

Video of Nagl Interview on the Daily Show - DB, The Chicago Blog

A Great Interview in the Most Unlikely of Places - Jeff, Red State Rascals

Counterinsurgency in Hollywood - Robert Avrech, Seraphic Secret

The Short Course in Counterinsurgency - Malone Vandam, New Paltz Journal

Interview: The Daily Show - LTC John Nagl - Chief Ops Officer, Riley Professional Reading Group


Discuss at Small Wars Council


Hubba Bubba (not verified)

Tue, 07/05/2011 - 1:22pm

If you read 'Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife'- Nagl backs up the claim that the military PME did not feature COIN in the 1990s (after the Cold War- yes.) He had statistics from the Field Grade course (ILE- then called CGSC) where only a couple of hours were spent on COIN or FID, while the VAST majority of course hours focused on high intensity conventional warfare. Nagl's work is not alone.
Check out Carl Builder's "The Masks of War" for a great RAND study on how the Army, Navy, and USAF are institutions that put their own self-interests and aspirations for their 'golden age' of war to trump Joint considerations and even national interests.
Some of the design articles on SWJ also discuss the tendancy of the military to seek conventional and traditional processes and ignore the COIN and asymmetrical stuff.


War with a manual, you can teach and train all you want but in the field, its kill or be killed. I don't know how many really follow the rules of engagement. They talk about Vietnam, isn't Iraq and Afghanistan like Vietnam already. Come home forget about it.

liontooth (not verified)

Mon, 08/27/2007 - 8:26am

John Nagl mentioned that after Vietnam, the military didn't focus on counterinsurgency. I've heard and or seen this comment from other members of the military recently in different media.

I can understand this attitude up to the end of the USSR. But after encouraging the Iraqi uprising after Desert Storm and intervening, the humanitarian relief in Somalia, embassy bombings, etc. didn't anyone/group in the military start to reassess future responses?

Will these lessons in Counter Insurgency be swept under the rug after Iraq? Or has the military ESTABLISHMENT finally gotten the lesson that small wars aren't going anywhere soon?

Because looking over the next 10 years, what we are seeing in Iraq could easily happen in Cuba once Castro reaches room temperature. All of the Mexican and Columbian drug cartels would love to move their base of operations 90 miles from the US, with a government that they will not just control or influence, but run.

Gian P Gentile

Sun, 08/26/2007 - 10:26am

Way too totally, totally cool; Nagl on the Daily show!! Such a good thing to have Nagl talk so magnificently on Coin so that so many Americans will understand it.

What I am really hoping for is that one of Nagls publishers will figure out how to publish a new edition of Robert Pirsigs classic text on metaphysics with an introduction to it by Nagl. Then the American people will understand how we in the American Army fight counterinsurgency wars in a way that the warrior Bruce Lee ("the art of fighting without fighting") would understand.

Next I am really hoping for a new required short reading list accepted by the army and marines for every infantry and cavalry lieutenant heading for Iraq. It might look something like this:

*"Marine Corps Small Wars Manual"

*"Learning to Eat Soup with a Spoon," by John Nagl

*"Instructions for American Soldiers Serving in Iraq during World War II" with an introduction by John Nagl

*"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," by Robert Pirsig, with an introduction by John Nagl on the metaphysical aspects of counterinsurgency warfare (this is the one I am hoping a publisher bites)

Now this would be a professional reading list to kill for.


Sun, 08/26/2007 - 3:09am

Few authors -outside of, say, Robert Conquest - can speak extemporaneously as well as they come off when you read them in a professionally edited text. This was very well done by LTC. Nagl.


Sat, 08/25/2007 - 6:10am

I agree and this venue likely reached a whole segment of the U.S. population with little understanding of COIN and what it takes to prevail.

liontooth (not verified)

Sat, 08/25/2007 - 3:49am

John Nagl was brilliant and hilarious! Congratulations on a great job.