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Afghanistan and the Troubled Future of Unconventional Warfare Hardcover – August 31, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 218 pages
  • Publisher: US Naval Institute Press; First Edition edition (August 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159114745X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591147459
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #465,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Hy S. Rothstein, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army with a Ph.D. in international relations, served as a Special Forces officer for more than 26 years, spending many years training and advising governments threatened by active insurgencies. He is now senior lecturer in the department of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on May 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Generals fight the last war. In the last war they were lower ranking officers in charge of troops actually doing the fighting. This gives them a lesson in how wars are fought. Most United States troops are skilled in the fighting of conventional wars. They well understand what the M-1 tanks did in Gulf War I, they understand about air power, logistics, all kinds of things that enable a heavily mechanized army to fight. They proved this well when a much smaller force quickly overcame the much larger Iraqi army in Gulf War II.

Unfortunately winning on the battlefield in Iraq and in Afghanistan didn't mean the end of the war. Instead, as we all know, the real battle was just beginning, and we haven't done very well with it.

Dr. Rothstein, a West Point graduate and a thirty year career Special Forces officer uses this book to explain how unconventional warfare has not received the attention it should in the modern military. He uses the experience in Afghanistan to illustrate the points he is describing and makes several recommendations as to how the unconventional forces of the US need to be improved, mostly at the command level.
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Format: Hardcover
Afghanistan And The Troubled Future Of Unconventional Warfare by Hy S. Rothstein (Department of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California) is an analytical study of conventional and unconventional uses of tactics in the "War on Terrorism" as it is currently being waged in the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan. Arguing that although the operation in Afghanistan was presented as unconventional the Bush administration, but was in actuality, a case of America's military power being employed in a segmented and quite conventional manner, Afghanistan And The Troubled Future Of Unconventional Warfare provides an in-depth overview of the Afghan war and why certain situational intricacies may imply, but not require, unconventional or irregular tactics. An important and seminal contribution to Military Studies reference collections and reading lists, Afghanistan And The Troubled Future Of Unconventional Warfare is very strongly recommended work of impeccable scholarship.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stratiotes Doxha Theon VINE VOICE on November 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In this book, the author first asserts that after the initial success of a conventional war in Afghanistan, the US has failed to prosecute a successful unconventional war as is required. Then, through a brief introduction of organization theory, he describes the problem as symptomatic of the organizational mindset of conventional forces. He makes the point, and well I believe, that the conventional warfare thinking continues to take over and attempt to shape all forces under its structure to the conventional model. This does seem often to be the case and it is a valid point. The author's recommendations for remedying the problem are, in effect, a new separate branch of the military that is more attuned to the CIA unconventional model than the DoD conventional model. Unfortunately, this seems to still leave open the probability that the regular military will slowly take over this new force and attempt to mold it also in its own image. It seems a bandaid solution to a problem requiring more than bandaids to this reviewer. I think a better solution would be something along the lines that the late Col. Hackworth proposed - a new military altogether. Still, this is an important work about how organizational structure can affect the ability of the military to perform in unconventional warfare settings. It is not specifically regarding Afghanistan as it might seem, rather, the experience in Afghanistan is only the latest symptom of a long standing disease that needs drastic treatment. A very helpful book to raise some more thoughtful ideas for the healing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Berner on October 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've only read three case histories of bureaucratic failure which are essential works for all thoughtful people. Andrew Gordon's Rules of the Game, a study of the Royal Navy from Trafalgar to Jutland, showed how minor changes in such things as promotion policy and communications altered the entire character of the organization. Peter Rodman's Presidential Command, a study of the State Department under each President from Nixon through Bush 43, showed how a bureaucracy can undermine its Constitutional leadership.

Finally, Colonel Rothstein's study of special operations forces during the War in Afghanistan (with a brief history of special forces since World War II) shows how, even when an organization develops an exquisite tool, it will misuse that tool when it doesn't fit into the general preconceptions of the bureaucracy at large. Of the three studies, Colonel Rothstein's is perhaps the most useful to the general reader since it ties his study most clearly to organizational theory (the chapter summarizing the various studies of organizational theory is alone worth the price of the book).

Afghanistan is the perfect case study since it has served as a model of the "new kind of war." Americans love the image of a handful of Green Berets on horseback with laptops winning a war. It is not so much that the image is wrong, just imcomplete. As Colonel Rothstein clearly demonstrates, special operations forces have always been used as commandos in conventional warfare instead of the leading edge in unconventional war.

The concept of elite troops has always been with us.
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