View Full Version : Counterinsurgency: Relearning How to Think

07-01-2006, 12:23 PM
Counterinsurgency: Relearning How to Think (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display-papers.cfm?q=181) - Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Galloway, US Army. US Army War College Strategy Research Project, 2005.

The U.S. military's experience with insurgencies spans its history from the American Revolution to its recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. The current geostrategic environment is fertile for global insurgency, primarily the threat of radical Islamic extremists who have learned to leverage 21st century technologies to enhance their strategic power projection capability. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has recognized these emerging threats, has labeled them as irregular security challenges, and appears to have prioritized them ahead of traditional conventional challenges. Dr Stephen Metz and LTC Raymond Millen, analysts at the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, have described the current period as an "age of insurgency," similar to the period 1950s to 1980s, and indicate that this period will continue for the next several decades. To meet these challenges, civilian and military leaders and planners must change the way they think about the complex challenges of prosecuting a counterinsurgency campaign. Strategic policy makers must question the viability of achieving victory over a global insurgency or just managing it to some acceptable level. In the end, leaders and planners must review and, where necessary, refine or adapt their strategy, operational concepts, doctrine, and organizations to address the global insurgency environment. When doing so, they must lift the right lessons from history and be cautious not to provide prescriptive solutions but principles. DoD transformational efforts only partially address the current gap between strategy and capabilities.


This paper will examine the adequacy of current U.S. counterinsurgency strategic policy, operational concepts, and doctrine and then through analysis of two case studies, the British Army in Malaya 1948-1960 and the United States Army in the Philippines 1898-1902, provide insights for strategic leaders and planners and proposals for inclusion in future doctrinal updates.

Recent operations have exposed gaps in our current strategic policy. Senior leaders interviewed after the end of major combat operations indicated that the Army and DoD sought to develop counterinsurgency strategy early in the war, but other elements of government were unprepared. They claimed that no strategic policy guidance was available to the commanders in Iraq so military operations could be coordinated with strategic policy objectives for the country.

07-01-2006, 08:39 PM
The article is right on. In the future and in our current theaters of operation insurgencies will be our main problem. The author is right to state that we need to come up with a vision that embraces this reality and not continue with JV 2010 and JV2020. Further, we should pull lessons learned form conflicts, yet be carefull in applying them as insurgencies are a one off event. Meanig no two look or act the same. This is true in state on state wars, but major power wars play by different rules and have some greater predictability seeing as how we have focused on them, yet let insurgenices out of our frame of reference. Gen. Hammes points to this with his insightful work on 4GW and others have also come to this conclusion. Our force structure must come in and meet this challange. If we choose not to and look to a high tech 3GW solution we will have missed the mark. That beening said, the fact that the brass are looking into these issues is good, however our continued inflated spending on the Navy and Air force are not. As David Galula said " disorder is the natural state of nature, cheap to create, and costly to prevent", if we chose to let the disorder of insurgencies proliferate with out adaquate guidence to our battalion and company level commanders, we will pay a ever higher price to try and keep stability and order in insurgencies and peace keeping operations around the world. Its not enough to have the ability to fight anywhere in the world, but the capibility to understand and orient your self to the battle you face, so that you can then have the ability to fight it.

SSG Rock
07-03-2006, 03:00 PM
I hope this isn't redundant. I think this man is a great template for the officer of the future, cut his teeth in ODS, instructed at West Point, came into his own in OIF and is attempting to share his expertise with the upcoming generation of officer. I think COL McMaster genuinely loves the Army and that he would do anything for his troopers. I know scouts who have served under him and to a man, they would follow him through the gates of hell.

How is it that one man can be so far ahead of his contemporaries? I mean, there are some extremely good officers out there, but why does McMaster stand out above his peers? Is he that cutting edge? Does he possess some special mental capacity that others don't? Whatever it is, we need to learn how to bottle it.

Tal Afar: Al Qaeda's Town
Lara Logan Reports On Battle To Retake Iraqi Town

(CBS) This story originally aired on March 12, 2006.

This is a story about an entire city that was taken over by al Qaeda. It's called Tal Afar and about 200,000 people who live there became prisoners in their own homes when terrorists took control and turned it into their town.

They used Tal Afar as a base to train insurgents and launch attacks around Iraq. Last fall, as correspondent Lara Logan found out when she traveled there, U.S. and Iraqi forces were determined to recapture Tal Afar, and the Bush administration has pointed to that operation as a model for how to fight and win the rest of the war.....http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/03/10/60minutes/main1389390.shtml

07-03-2006, 03:43 PM
Don't take this wrong as I am very much a COL McMaster fan - but he wrote a high-profile book and recieves a lot of press. There are many other officers, both Soldiers and Marines, who are cut out of the same cloth as McMaster but operate underneath the PR radar.

Again, I have nothing but high praise and admiration for the colonel - but there are others...