Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Brief on the Accidental Guerrilla by Zenpundit


Mark of Zenpundit has posted an important link from Lexington Green of Chicago Boyz about a review by Dr. John Nagl, president of CNAS, lead author of The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual of The Accidental Guerrilla by Col. David Kilcullen.

Mark writes in part:

Tribal and even “civilized” rural people, often find ways of making social status distinctions that relate to behaviour and character rather than or in addition to the mere accumulation of material possessions (Col. Pat Lang has a great paper on this subject, “How to Work with Tribesmen“). We can shorthand them as “honor” cultures and they provide a different set of motivations and reactions than, say, those possessed by a CPA in San Francisco or an attorney in Washington, DC. People with “honor” are more obviously “territorial” and quick to defend against perceived slights or intrusions by unwelcome outsiders. This is a mentality that is alien to most modern, urbanized, 21st century westerners but it was not unfamiliar all that long ago, even in 19th and early 20th century, Americans had these traits. Shelby Foote, the Civil War historian, quotes a captured Southern rebel, who responded to a Union officer who asked him, why, if he had no slaves, was he was fighting? “Because you are down here” was the answer.

Mark incorporates examples of other voices whom have offered consul and at times were ignored in their time, John Boyd when he was still alive, and George Kennan back in the 1930's when he warned about Stalin, only to be redeemed by the Long Telegram.

Turning to Thomas P.M. Barnett Mark offers caution to those who advocate COIN doctrine.

Barnett’s themes have a great consilience with most of what COIN advocates would like to see happen, but Dr. Barnett’s public example of intellectual proselytizing and briefing to normal people outside of the beltway is even more important. Operational doctrine is not enough. It is untethered. It will float like a balloon in a political wind. It is crisis management without a destination or sufficient justification for expenditure of blood and treasure. If these blanks are not filled in, they will be filled in by others.

Read the whole post The Kilcullen Doctrine

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Information Dissemination joins the discussion with this excellent opening salvo of on target questions regarding COIN and our overall government strategy for using force.
I am not an expert on counterinsurgency, but ever since the surge and getting turned onto the topic by reading the Small Wars Journal, I have studied it enough to understand when COIN is and is not effective. I don't believe that COIN is a subject anyone will truly master without a great deal of regional centric training, education, and experience, although I really appreciate how many concepts of COIN scale in warfare, in particular the complicated discussions of how to operate military forces in populated environments (like the littoral).
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