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Thread: The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars

    The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars by David Ucko: With a host of recommendations by the like of Steve Metz and 'Hal' McMaster.

    On Abu M is an interview with the author:

    This is the first Q&A:
    You say the U.S. military is "learning" counterinsurgency. To what degree do you think it has thus far been successful doing so?

    Thank you. I believe that the U.S. military has been remarkably successful in gaining a better understanding of counterinsurgency, given the size and hierarchical nature of the organisation, as well as its prior stance toward these missions. Through an open discussion, and a genuine willingness to learn, those with an interest in counterinsurgency have arrived at a clear-eyed understanding of what these missions require, in terms of time, resources and personnel. The U.S. military has in this regard come a very long way: it is impressive.

    At the same time, developing doctrine and publishing concept papers is not a particularly good metric for institutional change: the U.S. military must also prioritises counterinsurgency as a mission that it will conduct, and support that prioritisation by developing the required capabilities. Here, progress has been slower. On the prioritisation, there is an understandable desire to avoid counterinsurgency, and this, along with sheer inertia, has sapped some of the efforts to institutionalise lessons learned in the field. As to the development of capabilities, U.S. troops are clearly learning about the nature of these missions through gruelling, repeated tours. I do not, however, see a corresponding change of priorities within the U.S. defence budget or its force structure. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ influence over the last year is extremely promising but I believe more needs to be done to resource and equip the force for the types of wars it is fighting today and, most likely, tomorrow. Similarly, the great changes over the last few years in Army force structure do not reflect the operational learning of troops on the ground, or are insufficiently targeted to meet the requirements of these very challenging operations.

    One big reason for the continuity in these foundational areas is the difficulty of adding without removing: the capabilities and skill sets necessary for counterinsurgency have been brought in from the margins, to be incorporated within the main text without changing its flow or meaning. This is a very problematic means of achieving change. More helpful, yet very unlikely, is a veritable bottom-up review to build a capability that truly reflects current and prospective needs.
    The name Ucko appears on the book thread, but before August 2009 when this book was published. A short bio: and his website:

    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-07-2009 at 01:26 PM.

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