View Full Version : How Oxford Taught America New Way to Fight Battles

03-28-2006, 11:19 AM
28 March London Times - How Oxford Taught America New Way to Fight Battles (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-2106277,00.html).

Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife (a title taken from T.E. Lawrence — himself no slouch in guerrilla warfare) is a study of how the British Army succeeded in snuffing out the Malayan insurgency between 1948 and 1960 — and why the Americans failed in Vietnam.

The thesis was written in Oxford more than a decade ago by John Nagl, now a US lieutenant-colonel and senior Pentagon adviser. It is helping to transform the American military in the face of its greatest test since Vietnam.

Colonel Nagl was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford who served in the Gulf War before returning to the university where he met his wife. At the time he was troubled by the conventional wisdom that America’s post-Vietnam doctrine of engaging in conflict only if it could use overwhelming force had been vindicated by Operation Desert Storm.

Instead, he believed, the swiftness of victory had shown future enemies the pointlessness of fighting the US through conventional means. “The Gulf War was a magnificent achievement by the American Army — and nobody will ever let us do it again,” he told The Times in an interview. “I concluded that our enemies would either go high-spectrum, and fight us with weapons of mass destruction, or low spectrum and use the ancient arts of insurgency.”

In Iraq they have chosen the latter...