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Thread: New Book on Counterinsurgency

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    Default New Book on Counterinsurgency

    McFarland Publishers has just put out a new book on Counterinsurgency. It is titled, Counterinsurgency: What the United States Learned in Vietnam, Chose to Forget, and Needs to Know Now by David Donovan. Donovan addresses the key issues relevant to counterinsurgency and provides discussions based on personal experiences with decades of thought given to them afterward. Personal vignettes from his own experiences and from the experiences of others are placed throughout the book to illustrate points being discussed with real-life examples. The book will be useful to both the counterinsurgency planner and the advisor in the field, but it is also a book for the general reader who wants to understand the complexities of counterinsurgency and the implications that come with it.
    Donovan focuses a lot of attention on those counterinsurgency advisors. They are the key players in any counterinsurgency effort because they transmit both knowledge and values to their counterparts. He also enumerates “Donovan Dozens," four lists of a dozen "rules" each that are pertinent to different aspects of counterinsurgency.
    Donovan is no Pollyanna. He is quite clear about the too-common failure of counterinsurgency programs and the key factors that cause it. Relatedly, he uses the metaphor of the Potemkin village, i.e. facades put up to make things look better than they are, when discussing critically the tendency for over-optimism when considering and implementing counterinsurgency campaigns.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DDonovan View Post
    McFarland Publishers has just put out a new book on Counterinsurgency. It is titled, Counterinsurgency: What the United States Learned in Vietnam, Chose to Forget, and Needs to Know Now by David Donovan. Donovan addresses the key issues relevant to counterinsurgency and provides discussions based on personal experiences with decades of thought given to them afterward.
    David Donovan's book "Once a Warrior King" had a lot of influence over me in my early career in the 1980's. I hope this book is as influential for others. I just ordered it from Amazon.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I too was heavily influenced by "Once a Warrior King." I look forward to this next book, and I do not say that about much that is published about COIN in recent years.

    Insurgency is fundamentally a bottom-up response to a top-down problem. Far too much of our US COIN in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and many smaller efforts has been focused on protecting and preserving the top-down drivers of insurgency at the policy level; while employing a form of COIN that seeks through various means to quell the bottom-up response. Needless to say the results have been predictable - many vignettes of tremendous tactical (temporary and usually local) successes, all in support of an effort that ultimately fails to meet the desired strategic objectives.

    I am confident that these will be rock solid insights and that the book will be a great read - but like all of our lessons learned from US COIN efforts we should always place a large asterisk on the cover with the following warning: "The tremendous efforts and sacrifice described herein were in support of an overall operation that ultimately failed in its strategic goals and purpose."

    This is certainly true of the lessons learned from the last decade of war that is used to validate much of the Army's new operating concept, ironically titled "How to win in a Complex World." We have to get better at how we think about the problem, and that will be my primary focus as I pore through David's latest work - searching for clues and insights that help me in the continued pursuit of understanding the problem of insurgency more clearly.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Dave Maxwell has posted a review now:
    It has long been predicted that counterinsurgency will be the predominant style of American warfare in the 21st century: Thus far, the prediction has proven true. Written for those who study counterinsurgency from a policy perspective as well as for those who do counterinsurgency in the field, this book demonstrates that the U.S. has had difficulty meeting the challenges of this special form of warfare because it has not properly processed important lessons from the past. Based on the author's wartime experiences, a broad range of topics are covered--from factors to be considered in accepting a counterinsurgency partner to "rules" for advisors in the field--with points illustrated by real-life examples.
    Link:http://myemail.constantcontact.com/N...id=4QhlJ5li7z0
    davidbfpo

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