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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant for Today and a Must-Read for Military Leaders, December 11, 2006
This review is from: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Psi Classics of the Counterinsurgency Era) (Paperback)
David Galula's Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice is as relevant today as it was when it was originally published decades ago. This is the book that every general should read. To put it more succinctly, if you are a general serving in the American armed forces today and have not read this book, then you are wrong. Galula's careful study of past revolutionary warfare is prophetic of today's conflicts across the globe especially the War in Iraq.

As part of a recent series of republished books on the subject of insurgencies, Galula's provides the important foundation from which to branch into more specific areas of conflict. I wish we had book at West Point when I was a cadet, and I recommend it to the Department of History and the Department of Military Science without reservation.

Drawing upon decades of experience participating in counter-revolutionary warfare and studying it across the globe, Galula's analysis is tempered with a strong dose of reality. I had difficulty sometimes thinking he was writing about today's wars when talking so eloquently about previous insurgencies that parallel today's realities. Galula's references are outstanding, his analysis is thorough, and his conclusions valid.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heart of the New Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, February 24, 2007
This review is from: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Psi Classics of the Counterinsurgency Era) (Paperback)
David Galula's account of the lessons he learned fighting in Algeria is the single best book on counterinsurgency. It heavily influenced the writing of Army/Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency; especially important were Galula's lessons about the primacy of political over military elements of power in a COIN campaign and the incredible importance of information operations. "Counteirnsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice" should be heavily highlighted and reside on the bookshelf of every counterinsurgent.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yogi Berra was right. It's déjà vu all over again., July 25, 2007
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This review is from: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Psi Classics of the Counterinsurgency Era) (Paperback)
Having lived through the 60s and Viet Nam, I can recognize much of what is in the news today - just change the names. The type of war we now face has had many names: revolutionary war, counterinsurgency, counter terrorism, guerrilla warfare, asymmetric warfare, and so on. One size does not fit all, and it would be a fool who believes that there is a one-for-one match between conflicts. It would also be a fool who ignores the practical, political, and theoretical basis for such conflicts and the extent to which they share characteristics.

This book addresses more the military end. This is not in any way a criticism. This book is very well written and well worth the reading. At the time it was written, armies were attempting to build a doctrinal base to use in such conflicts. In doing so, they also concentrated on the military. Again, this is not in any way a criticism, for doing so is their job. The political aspects of such conflicts are, properly, the job of the civilian leadership.

The Iraq conflict, and the war in Afghanistan, have brought the subject again to the world's attention. My personal opinion is that many are now busy re-inventing the wheel.

For anyone interested in the subject, many books are available. The best of the recent publications is General Sir Rupert Smith's The Utility of Force. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. Carl von Clausewitz edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. On War. is a given, as is Sun Tzu, and Mao Tse-Tung's, Selected Military Writings. Peking, PRC: Foreign Language Press, 1966. Smith gives the best account of the need for combining all factors in a situation such as we find ourselves in now. Wesley Clark also does a good job of describing the complicated nature of modern conflicts.

Other books are listed below, in no particular order. The (H) and (P) indicate if the book is hardcover or paperback.

Thompson, Sir Robert. Defeating Communist Insurgency, The Lessons of Malaya and Vietnam. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Pbulishers, 1966. (H)

Hart, B. H. Liddell. Strategy. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1954. (P)

McCuen, John J.. The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War. Harrisburg, PA: The Stackpole Company, 1966. (H)

Paret, Peter and John W. Shy. Guerrillas in the 1960's, Revised Edition. New York: Frederick A. Praaeger, Publisher, 1962. (P)

Paret, Peter. French Revolutionary Warfare from Indochina to Algeria, The Analysis of a Political and Military Doctrine. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, 1964. (H)

Guevara, Ernesto "Che." Che Guevara on Guerrilla Warfare. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Publisher, 1961. (H)

Bern, Major H. von Dach. Total Resistance, Swiss Army Guide to Guerrilla Warfare and Underground Operations. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press, 1965. (H)

Guevara, Ernesto "Che". Guerrilla Warfare, A Method. Peking, PRC: Foreign Language Press, 1964. (P)

Clark, General Wesley K.. Waging Modern War, New York: Public Affairs Books, 2002. (P)(Original Source)

Clark, General Wesley K.. Winning Modern Wars, Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire. New York: Public Affairs Books, 2003. (P)(Original Source)
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, insightful and relevant today., September 25, 2005
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This is a foundational work on the development of "Counterinsurgency Warfare," and relevant to Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots. Galula articulated clearly the how "Revolutionary Warfare" is asymmetric between belligerents, contrary to the balanced warfare between conventional field armies. He is masterful at describing the insurgent dynamics, and gives great insights for conducting Counterinsurgency Operations. The work primarily focuses on anti-colonial revolutions and Marxist-communist insurgencies, but falls short in addressing the fundamentalist religious based insurgency/terrorism, which was very much ongoing (Algeria) during his contemporary times. Very clear and illuminating, and a must for the student of low-intensity conflicts.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 Years Old and Still the Best, February 14, 2006
First published in 1964, this is still the best book on the subject. Not as well known as it's more famous companion: "Defeating Communist Insurgency" by Thompson, it addresses the same isues, but is much more applicable to today's conflict. If you are too busy to read it, then go right to page 51, and see how Galula learned to deal with prisoners from his time spent as a prisoner of Mao's forces in China. If some one at the Pentagon had read this, the world would never have heard of Abu Garaib. In a page and a half, Galula told us how to win the war, or, at least not to lose it. Not as "harshly to the point" as McCuen's "The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War", it is the right book at the right time. Agree with previous reviewer, try to get your hands on the Hailer Publishing softcover version as it fits right in the cargo pocket.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on the Subject...Ever, November 27, 2005
By 
Sam Damon (Ft Walton Beach, FL) - See all my reviews
David Galula's 1964 classic is timeless. He offers a soldier's perspective on counterinsurgency, at the operational level of war. This is the only book I have found that ties together the all the strategy and policy works that proliferate from academics and politicians with the tactical manuals that show soldiers how to deal with the very difficult and confusing environment of counterinsurgency. If current serving soldiers only have one book in their rucksacks, this should be that book. It is better than any doctrinal manual or think piece currently available. Find the paperback version from Hailer Press if you can...that way you don't mind it getting dog-eared from constant use, stained from coffee spilled on it late at night, and lost when someone else sees good a resource you have brought to the fight.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, April 25, 2007
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This review is from: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Psi Classics of the Counterinsurgency Era) (Paperback)
Mr. Galula has captured in this small volume the essentials of counterinsurgency warfare. While dated in some respects, his book provides exacting and honest details in the difficulties of counterinsurgency---as we are witnessing in Iraq (his experience was in Algeria). Wisely, the US military is augmenting their doctrine with his sage advice. While the USMC's Small Wars Manual works well for the nuts-and-bolts of occupation and administration, Mr. Galula provides the tactical necessities and practical solutions. The success of his philosophy is, no doubt, responsible for the measured success of recent changes in US military activity of Iraq. The book is frank in describing the real challenges, and also the uncertainty of victory. The US military has been transformed over the last ten years, becoming more expeditionary and nimble---thus more capable of counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare operations.

This book should be required reading for members of Congress (particularly the "cut and run" crowd) and the administration. It is only through a proper understanding of the enemy and their tactics that a military force can capably and successfully engage and gain victory. Get this book if you want to understand what our men and women in uniform are facing in the war on terror. Insightful and informative from cover to cover. Highly recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, with one caveat, September 4, 2007
This review is from: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Psi Classics of the Counterinsurgency Era) (Paperback)
I will not repeat the good things said in previous reviews on this work, as they cover it well, and the credentials of the previous reviewers in several instances should also speak for themselves.

Galula's book is a very good effort for trying to look at the lessons of counterinsurgency objectively. In reading reviews and other materials on the book, as well as talking to people about it, I fear, however, that Galula's work is often taken out of its historical context, which is dangerous. Galula's essay, like Roger Trinquier's "Modern Warfare," need to be seen in the context of the French guerre revolutionnaire, developed first in Indochina between 1945-1954 (French defense journals at the time are replete with the writings of officers developing the school of guerre revolutionnaire), and carried over to Algeria between 1954-1962. The guerre revolutionnaire school argued that counterinsurgents needed to not just understand the insurgents, but fight a counterinsurgency using the tactics and strategy of insurgency. The intellectual starting point was Mao. The guerre revolutionnaire school and its intellectual heritage in the French Army goes a long way toward explaining many of the excesses and brutal tactics used in Algeria. The four generals who tried to overthrow de Gaulle in April 1961 were some of the guerre revolutionnaire's most vocal disciples.

Thus, while Galula's book is invaluable, I fear it being taken out of context of the guerre revolutionnaire school of thought in the French army during the 1950s. There is unfortunately very little on it in English as well, which is part of the problem. For anyone wishing to use Galula's precepts in counterinsurgency or to understand the nature of counterinsurgency, please make sure you learn more about the French military in Indochina and Algeria and the context from which Galula formed his ideas of counterinsurgency.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sound, practical and hard-earned advice, September 4, 2009
By 
T. Graczewski "tgraczewski" (Burlingame, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Psi Classics of the Counterinsurgency Era) (Paperback)
"The best writing on counterinsurgency share with the best sex manuals the fact that their authors generally have some personal experience of their subject matter." So writes John Nagl in the foreward to this classic 1964 irregular warfare piece by the French military officer David Galula. Needless to say, Galula was "experienced" - and so, too, now are Nagl and his fellow officers in the US and NATO militaries.

Counterinsurgency (COIN) is all the rage these days. The apparent success of the Surge in Iraq has elevated COIN operations - often associated with the unpalatable practice (from the American military perspective) of "nation building" - from the necessary but regrettable to the necessary and winnable. In the process it has pushed once obscure, scholarly military officers, such as Nagl, David Kilcullen, and Kalev Sepp, into the limelight and, in a certain sense, into the driver's seat of US national security policy.

One tangible piece of evidence that the US military is taking COIN more seriously was the 2007 publication - to much fanfare and critical acclaim - of the US Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. The concepts the Galula developed first-hand from tours in French Indo-China and Algeria and which he so cleanly and directly lays out in "Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice" form the foundation of the new Field Manual. Indeed, it is shocking just how broadly and deeply Galula's perspective permeates US military doctrine half-a-century after it was first written.

Galula has much to say that carries with it lasting relevance. There is much to commend in this book; however, I will highlight just two central points in this review.

First, Galula addresses the question: what makes for a successful insurgency? He argues that four factors are critical. First, the insurgency needs a great cause - one that has broad appeal and cannot be easily co-opted by the government. A notable example would be rural land reform in Vietnam and the Philippines. This cause serves as the main narrative from which the insurgents can sustain and build a powerful political operation. Second, the initial strength of the insurgency is inversely related to the strength of the government forces. An unpopular regime with a weak and/or corrupt local police force is especially susceptible. Third, the physical geography of the region is important. As Galula states, "the ideal situation for the insurgent would be a large land-locked country shaped like a blunt-tipped star, with jungle covered mountains along the borders and scattered swamps and plains, in a temperate zone with a large and dispersed rural population and a primitive economy." (About 80% of that description applies to Afghanistan, unfortunately.) And, finally, outside support is important, especially in the middle and later stages of the insurgency.

Next, once an insurgency has taken root, what is the most practical course to defeat it? Galula emphasizes the political nature of the contest. "What is at stake is the country's political regime, and to defend it is a political affair...Thus, a mimeograph machine may turn out to be more useful than a machine gun, a soldier trained as a pediatrician more important than a mortar expert, cement more wanted than barbed wire, clerks more in demand than riflemen." Moreover, Galula stresses the political, military, and economic dimensions of the COIN operation must be tightly integrated and mutually reinforcing. He argues that these separate efforts are multiplicative in nature and not additive. That is, in a multi-variable multiplication set, if any input is zero then the final answer is always zero regardless of the other inputs (e.g. 80 x 0 x 50 x 20 = 0).

Galula then lays out an explicit step-by-step approach to conducting a successful counterinsurgency campaign. It's a bit formulaic and is tinctured by the Cold War perspective in which it was conceived, but the basic premise and cadence is sound.

1. Expel the insurgents from a defined geographic area. This will likely result in civilian deaths and property damage, which the government should move quickly and aggressively to make reparations.

2. Deploy a static permanent presence unit. This force is meant to hold the cleared area and develop a rapport with the local population.

3. Contact and control the population. Re-establish government authority in the area by isolating the population from the insurgents by conducting a thorough local census and establishing check points in and out of the region. In the meantime, be relentless with intelligence collection and propaganda efforts to address attentisme, where the neutral majority simply waits out the conflict or hedges their bets.

4. Destroy the insurgent political organization. This is a police operation, first and foremost. Galula suggests a wide catch of minor players and the subsequent rolling up of local insurgent cells based on their disclosures. He also says that the government forces should use amnesty offers prudently at this stage.

5. Hold local elections. This is the critical point in getting the local population to step-out and commit the counterinsurgency forces. Galula argues that the openness and freedom of elections needs to be stressed, but that the resulting government is only provisional. He also says that it is a bad sign if only older men are elected as it is likely the younger men who are supporting the insurgency.

6. Test the local leaders. Elections are not enough. Those elected must be given real responsibility and held accountable for their performance. It is essential that the new local government representatives demonstrate their commitment and competence, both to the counterinsurgency forces and, more importantly, the local population that elected them.

7. Organize a political party. Parties are the instrument of politics and counterinsurgency is a political battle. The importance of developing this political organization and platform cannot be overemphasized, Galula says. Only a strong, local political apparatus will make victory and progress permanent.

8. Suppress the last guerillas. As the counterinsurgency force takes root, Galula calls for reverting to the first stage of large-scale military operations to keep the remaining insurgents on the run and away from the population. The goal is to turn the last hold-outs into a roving band of criminals. It is at this point that more generous amnesty offers can be granted, he writes.

A lot has been written on counterinsurgency and a river of ink will certainly be consumed in future efforts on the subject, but there is still no better place to begin (or end) than with this tightly crafted, thoughtful classic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern day classic ..., February 6, 2007
By 
M. Conrad Hunter (Southern California) - See all my reviews
David Galula's Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory & Practice is a classic. It is a classic in the sense that it is ... a work of enduring excellence ...an authoritative source [Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary]. I recommend this volume because it makes better sense of other books on intelligence and special operations, by serving as a metric for both policy and operational analysis.

Written almost as a `good news/bad news' aphorism, Galula concedes ..."Very little is offered beyond formulas - which are sound as far as they go - such as, `Intelligence is the key to the problem,' or `The support of the population must be won." P xii.

The essence of the text is clearly stated ..."to define the laws of counterrevolutionary warfare, to deduce from them its principles, and to outline the corresponding strategy and tactics." P xiii.

Galula begins by defining insurgency as ..."a protracted struggle conducted methodically, step by step, in order to attain specific intermediate objectives leading finally to the overthrow of the existing order ...it can no more be predicted than a revolution; its beginnings are so vague that to determine exactly when an insurgency starts is a difficult legal, political, and historical problem." P 5.

Vital decisions depend on the quality of the intelligence available to policy makers. Additionally, and possibly more importantly, intelligence must be evaluated and presented in terms of a practical application. Galula delivers on his promise, as Counterinsurgency Warfare systematically examines the theoretical i.e., strategic aspect of intelligence in terms of practical/tactical i.e., operational applications.
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