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Counterinsurgency Paperback – May 19, 2010

22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199737499 ISBN-10: 0199737495 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"Kilcullen is to be applauded for his effort to impose strategic order on the threat of Islamist movements..."--Colin Jackson, Navel War College

"This book gives the reader much more than a better understanding of the situation in Iraq and Afganistan. It encapsulates numerous particularly relevant insights into the tactical, operational, and strategic challenges of counterinsurgency; plus it offers the most succinct overview of how to wage a global counterinsurgency anywhere." --Army History

About the Author

David Kilcullen was formerly the Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq and later an advisor to General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan. He is currently an advisor to N.A.T.O. . Kilcullen is also Adjunct Professor of Security Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199737495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199737499
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Kilcullen is the award-winning author of Accidental Guerrilla (2009) and Counterinsurgency (2010) and now Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla (2013).

His newest book takes us away from the remote, rural guerrilla warfare of Afghanistan, and into the marginalized slums and complex security threats of the world's coastal cities. Scrutinizing major environmental trends -- population growth, coastal urbanization, and increasing digital connectivity-- he projects a future of feral cities, urban systems under stress, and increasing overlaps between crime and war, internal and external threats, and the real and virtual worlds.

Dave is the Chief Executive Officer of Caerus Associates a strategic research and design firm that specializes in innovative, often counter-intuitive solutions to the world's hardest problems: economic development, violent conflict, humanitarian assistance, energy shortages and climate change. He is an advisor to NATO, and a consultant to the US and allied governments, international institutions, private sector companies and non-profit organizations seeking to make a difference in conflict and post-conflict environments and the developing world.

Before founding Caerus, Dave served 24 years as a soldier, diplomat and policy advisor for the Australian and United States governments. He was Special Advisor to the Secretary of State from 2007-2009 and Senior Advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq in 2007. He has provided advice at the highest levels of the Bush and Obama administrations, and has worked in peace and stability operations, humanitarian relief and counterinsurgency environments in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, South Asia and Africa. He is a well-known author, teacher and consultant, advising the U.S. and allied governments, international organizations, NGOs and the private sector.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Luke S. Larson on May 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
In the epilogue of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence states after reading, `Super flumina Babylonis,' he had a longing to feel himself the node of a national movement.

David Kilcullen should take satisfaction in knowing he achieved Lawrence's longing with his contribution to the United States military re-focus on Counterinsurgency during the recent and ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kilcullen's interest in the subject is stimulated by his service as an Australian officer with experience in East Timor and Indonesia. He has done an enormous amount of interesting work on the title topic (he has a doctorate in politics from the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, focusing on the effects of guerrilla warfare on non-state political systems in traditional societies).

He covers writing of the "28 articles," a concise practical guide for junior officers and non-commissioned officers engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. I first read the articles in an email chain in 29 Palms after my first deployment to Ar Ramadi, Iraq as a Marine infantry officer. The email had gone viral and I assume every officer who had been or was going to Iraq or Afghanistan not only read it but printed it, highlighted it, wrote notes next to the points and tucked it away in their platoon commander's note book for future reference.

Kilicullen brilliantly takes the complex theories of counterinsurgency and boils them into simple title phrases that can be easily recalled.
#7- Train the squad leaders then trust them
# 13- build trusted networks

These were not just read and forgot but read, digested and implemented at the company and platoon level.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Trav Hallen on June 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
In order to form a rational opinion on the West's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan it is necessary to have at least a basic idea of what counterinsurgency operations are all about. Without an understanding of the type of operations being conducted and their aims, it is not possible to make a considered determination of whether we are winning or losing, or whether we should get out or stay in for the long haul. Therefore a primer on counterinsurgency written by one of the world leading authorities (both practical and academic) is sorely needed as the West reconsiders its options. Kilcullen's "Counterinsurgency" hits the mark accurately and with power, but it is not without fault.

For those trying to come to grips with all the talk and debate over the progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is easily to become swayed by the reports in the media. Without understanding how to measure success in an insurgency and what is trying to be achieved, the general public and the media continue to view progress through the lens of conventional military operations. Killcullen's book provides the background necessary to understand what the West should try to do, why they should try to do it, how to do it, and (very importantly) how to know what you are doing is having the desired effect. This sort of information presented in language that is easy to read and understand has been sorely missing to date, and Kilcullen has done an excellent job of providing an entry level book on counterinsurgency for the layman.

As a primer the book is excellent as it draws together a diverse range of Kilcullen's work on counterinsurgency, from his work in Indonesia and East Timor, to the famous "Twenty-Eight Articles". It is therefore a one-stop shop to get your head around the big issues.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For students and practitioners of statecraft, nation building, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism, David Kilcullen is a living legend.

His main claim to fame is as author of the modern classic 'Twenty-Eight Articles', the writing of which apparently started on a whim in a Washington area Starbucks early one March 2006 evening and finished on his laptop at home the wee hours of the following morning. Emailed to a few colleagues for comment that early morning, the article went viral (even I received a copy!) and has now been read in its hundreds of thousands of copies, perhaps millions, translated into multiple languages and a freely available download if one but types its name into an internet search.

An experienced army officer and academic, so steeped in counterinsurgency to have written such a masterwork of community-level operations as 'Twenty-Eight Articles', must have more to say if given book-length scope to say it. 'Counterinsurgency' is David Kilcullen's second book-length opportunity to do so. I was disappointed to discover that it is not really a book but a loosely connected patchwork of his previously published articles, including a repeat of 'Twenty-Eight Articles', each with a patina of his annotations.

An initial point, tantalizingly dangled and then abruptly left hanging, is that the only two hard rules of counter-insurgency are (1) an absolute need to respect non-combatants and (2) to beware of template approaches, given that successful counterinsurgencies are ultimately custom built to fit a particular situation and may involve doing precisely the opposite of a solution that worked in a different insurgency.
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