Small Wars Journal

Meeting Lt. Col. David Galula - April 1962

Fri, 10/10/2008 - 5:50pm
Meeting Lt. Col. David Galula - April 1962

by Rufus Phillips, Small Wars Journal Retrospective

Meeting Lt. Col. David Galula - April 1962 (Full PDF Article)

In April 1962, I participated in a RAND Symposium on Counterinsurgency held in Washington, D.C, along with my old boss from the 1954--56 days in South Vietnam, General Edward G. Lansdale, and a number of others. Lansdale had been the key advisor to Ramon Magsaysay in the successful campaign against the communist Huks in the Philippines and then in the successful birth of the Republic of South Vietnam in 1954--56. I had worked under him advising the Vietnamese Army in its occupation and pacification of large areas in South Vietnam previously controlled by the communist controlled Vietminh (predecessors to the Vietcong), and I had moved on to Laos to try to help that government counter Pathet Lao subversion in the villages through civic action.

I did not participate in the first few symposium sessions, but heard from Lansdale that there was a very unusual French officer named David Galula present, who had a lot of good ideas that sounded very much like our own. As I got involved in discussions with Col. Galula, I discovered he wasn't anything like the vast majority of the French officers I had tried to work with as part of a joint American-French military advisory mission (called TRIM) in the 1954--55 days in Vietnam. Most had a colonial attitude toward the Vietnamese and saw them as lesser beings. Col. Galula, however, was different. He didn't maintain an attitude of superiority. Rather, his mission involved trying to help the local Algerian population as their friend, and he imbued his troops with that attitude.

Meeting Lt. Col. David Galula - April 1962 (Full PDF Article)

About the Author(s)



Thu, 07/31/2014 - 12:04pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

Did you read the article and what Mr. Phillips had to say?

Your comment reminds of an exchange between a NG SGT and Gian Gentile on these pages some years ago. The SGT was at the very tip of the sphere in Afghanistan and commented on how Mr. Galula's work helped him a lot. Gian came back and basically said no, the work was flawed and not good. I thought it curious to dispute personal testimony about the worth of thing that a guy had used on the line and said was good.

And what does Pakistan and south Asia have to do with this?

Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 11:46am

Still with the Galula fetish. You might want to look up the author and what he had to say about Pakistan in the past. I used to listen to Rufus Phillips on the John Batchelor show. He seemed naive about the Pakistani establishment, and, indeed, South Asia in general.

I'm sure the Galula crystal ball has an answer for that.

Another old article I just now read by another man who should be listened to.

The interesting thing about this one is the observation made that men who developed their small war ideas in rather different places, Galula, Kitson, Lansdale and Mr. Phillips, all came to very similar conclusions.