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Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat [Hardcover]

by Richard H. Shultz, Andrea J. Dew
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 27, 2006 0231129823 978-0231129824 First Edition

Since the end of the Cold War, conventional militaries and their political leaders have confronted a new, brutal type of warfare in which non-state armed groups use asymmetrical tactics to successfully fight larger, technologically superior forces. In order to prevent future bloodshed and political chaos, it is crucial to understand how these unconventional armed groups think and to adapt to their methods of combat.

Richard H. Shultz Jr. and Andrea J. Dew investigate the history and politics of modern asymmetrical warfare. By focusing on four specific hotbeds of instability—Somalia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Iraq—Shultz and Dew conduct a careful analysis of tribal culture and the value of clan associations. They examine why these "traditional" or "tribal" warriors fight, how they recruit, where they find sanctuary, and what is behind their strategy. Traveling across two centuries and several continents, Shultz and Dew examine the doctrinal, tactical, and strategic advantages and consider the historical, cultural, and anthropological factors behind the motivation and success of the warriors of contemporary combat.

In their provocative argument, Shultz and Dew propose that war in the post-Cold War era cannot be waged through traditional Western methods of combat, especially when friendly states and outside organizations like al-Qaeda serve as powerful allies to the enemy. Thoroughly researched and highly readable, Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias examines how non-state armies fight, identifies the patterns and trends of their combat, and recommends how conventional militaries can defeat these irregular yet highly effective organizations.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Some academics can see clearly what military generals and Pentagon civilian planners apparently cannot—that the nature of warfare has changed drastically in the past few decades. Shultz and Dew, of the Tufts University International Security Studies Program, grasp that combat involving nongovernment forces calls for innovative tactics by the U.S. military. Failing to understand the changed nature of warfare can lead to deadly consequences, the authors write, as the Iraq insurgency shows. This scholarly book is grounded in warfare theory, but is easily accessible for generalist readers. Looking at post-1990 conflicts in Somalia, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq, "in which the armies of modern nation-states fought armed groups, often with great difficulty, in traditional societal settings," Shultz and Dew propose new taxonomies, describe the reasons nongovernment combatants wage war, and the nontraditional approaches those combatants use. Government strategists hoping to defeat these nonstate warriors must learn about the cultures and traditions of those groups rather than relying solely on how much firepower they possess, the authors argue. Helpfully moving beyond theory, they suggest ways that Pentagon policy makers and field commanders can mine historical, anthropological and cultural studies to understand shadowy enemies. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


If you are interested in either irregular warfare or counterinsurgency, you should add this book to your reading list.

(Military Review)

Like it or not, the wars of tomorrow will be fought by small units of fighters who will operate unconventionally. Shultz and Dew have written a first-rate primer about these warriors of contemporary combat. Most importantly, they tell all who care—including, one hopes, the decision makers in the Pentagon and White House—a great deal about how to fight in places like Afghanistan and Iraq before things go wrong. Is anyone listening?

(Seymour M. Hersh, author of Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib)

Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias authoritatively traces the evolution of conflict in the twenty-first century and incisively analyzes the formidable national security challenges confronting both established nation-states and the international system. The concluding section's discussion of lessons learned for policymakers, military planners, and intelligence analysts makes the book an especially valuable contribution to the literature.

(Bruce Hoffman, author of Inside Terrorism and senior fellow, Combating Terrorism Center, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY)

This scholarly book is grounded in warfare theory, but is easily accessible for generalist readers.

(Publishers Weekly)

Wise and cogent.

(Robert Kaplan Wall Street Journal)

This is one in a handful of truly important books... It is fresh, innovative and immensely informative.

(Michael J. Bonafield Star Tribune)

[ Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias] should be on every Pentagon reading list.

(Austin Bay Human Events Online)

[They] have done more than write a book on America's new enemies. The two authors have done a public service.

(Rowan Scarborough The Washington Times)

A succinct and well-presented history of the birth and growth of the extremist Muslim fundamentalist political movement.

(Col. Will Holahan Officer)

Thoroughly researched and highly readable.... Examines how non-state armies fight, identifies the patterns and trends of their combat, and recommends how conventional militaries can defeat these irregular... organizations.

(LtCol Charles L. Armstrong Marine Corps Gazette)

Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias is a useful introduction to the topic of traditional warriors and modern warfare.

(Walter Ladwig Military Review)

[This book] provides valuable insight on what must be considered to set conditions for the commitment of military forces in future conflicts.

(Proceedings Magazine, US Naval Institute)

An excellent primer on the nature of warfare and our likely enemies in the twenty-first century.

(Parameters 1900-01-00)

This is undoubtedly the single best book written on what has become a true global war on terror.

(Leo J. Daugherty, III, Ph.D. Journal of Slavic Military Studies 1900-01-00)

[An] excellent study.

(Depaak Lal The International History 1900-01-00)

Highly recommended for all senior policymakers, military planners, and soldiers on the ground who will have to confront traditional warriors face to face.

(Canadian Military Journal)

The book offers an excellent model

(Miliatary Review 1900-01-00)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; First Edition edition (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231129823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231129824
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #914,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book for tribal-based insurgents, terrorist, militia September 20, 2006
The strength of this book is its attempt to lay out a framework for analyzing tribal-based insurgents, terrorists, and militias in layman's terms. I believe other reviewers have missed the point of the book -- it's not meant to be a description of today's threat, but a methodology for militarily analyzing how and why tribal-based groups fight. The authors recommend the following criteria as a substitute for traditional Military Capabilities Analysis: the tribe's concept of warfare; its organization and command and control; its areas of operations; the types and targets of its operations; its constraints and limitations; and the role of outside actors.

The authors make their argument by first discussing the differences between the western way of war and "primitive warfare," and then assessing the way wars have evolves since the end of the cold war. The third chapter specifically discusses tribes, clans, and groups based on lineage and kinship.

They then use the "case study" approach to test their analytical construct with chapters on Somalia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Iraq. At the end of each chapter they analyze those conflicts based on the analytical criteria noted above. Finally, in the last chapter, they again use their analytical criteria to establish analytical lessons-learned.

All-in-all this is an excellent book for those who are interested in the analysis of tribal-based military threats. It makes the point very well that conventional analytical approaches are not suited for the analysis of tribes and clans, and recommends a different approach.
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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat (Hardcover)

4 Stars

This isn't a bad book. I rated it four stars. Why? There are a lot of reasons. The biggest reason is Robert Kaplan has covered the subjects much more in depth in his series of books on the newly emerging post Cold War era. Indeed, a typical reader of "The Atlantic Monthly" will see that authors of Schultz and Dew are mostly giving their versions of the observations that Robert Kaplan has already written. So, the typical reader is left with a choice. They can either read this book or read Kapan's book, the best of the lot is "Imperial Grunts".

Authors Schultz and Dew give a fine break down of the typical militia command structure most nations face when fighting against Muslims. However, the militia breakdown is much better covered in "Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods" by H. John Poole and Ray L. Smith. So, the results are Authors Schultz and Dew give sort of a Cliff notes version of militia structure, combat methods, weapons and equipment.

The biggest problem that the West faces is a second guessing American media that has a never ending demand for news. The fact of the matter is the USA loses over 10,000 citizens per year in traffic accidents and has another 40,000 injured. Hardly anything is written in the by-lines of the local papers. Conversely, there is much hand-wringing over approximately American 2,500 war dead since 9-11 fighting. It should be noted that the Soviet Union was engaged in a series of savage civil wars from the time of its revolution in 1917 until the early 1920s. The Soviet Union united all the various states of that social republic under an iron willed fist.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good book, but has several shortcomings. August 15, 2006
As a fomrer US Force Recon Marine with service in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, my unit spent a great deal of time studying various terrorist/insurgent.guerilla organizations. This book makes some very good points, but not all of it is accurate. the book (along with a recent article by Mr. Shultz) makes the claim that

Consider the British experience during the 1980's and 90's in Northern Ireland. By working hand-in-glove with the Special Branch of the local police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, British intelligence agents penetrated the ranks of the Irish Republican Army, eventually capturing and incarcerating a legion of its leaders and operatives.

A former top-ranking I.R.A. commander who later became an informer told us that, when he was imprisoned with higher-ranking I.R.A. officials, they lamented over and over that the British strategy was so effective and their ranks were so depleted by the end of the 1980's that "the boys can't move, can't operate, always have to be looking over their shoulders." As a result, Britain was able to negotiate a relatively successful end to hostilities and to contain most of the splinter groups that refused to abide by it. (end).

The above analysis by Mr. Shultz, is highly innacurate. Military analysts have concluded that the IRA was able to uncover and kill 60% of the informers withing their ranks. Also, the fact that the IRA launched a devestating and highly effective commercial bombing camapign against Britian from 1990-1997, refutes the idea that the IRA "was so infiltrated, it couldn't move". In fact the IRA continued to move and basically bomb and assassinate at will far into the 1990's. It is widely believed that this bombing campaign forced the British to negotiate a peace deal with Sinn Fein and the IRA. This is one of several highly speculative conclusions that makes this book a decent, but far from perfect analysis of modern "Assymetrical warfare"
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Cultural Engagement & Non-state Actors
Cultural Engagement & Non-state Actors

Richard Shultz and Dew Andrea in their book "Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat" argue that... Read more
Published 23 months ago by T.A.L. Dozer
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Insight into the Enemy We Still Don't Know
I was TDY waiting for my flight at the airport when I picked up a discarded copy of the Wall Street Journal and noticed Robert Kaplan's review of this book. Read more
Published on June 6, 2010 by John Lopez Jr.
1.0 out of 5 stars Insurgents, Terrorists and Militias
I was excited when I saw the title, thinking that it was a timely work on an important subject. I was sorely disappointed. Read more
Published on July 29, 2007 by Montanero
4.0 out of 5 stars Operational Level Analysis of Traditional Cultures
Insurgents, Terrorists and Militias by Richard Shultz and Andrea Dew is a solid introductory text that aims to guide current Intelligence Analysts with a framework to assess... Read more
Published on March 30, 2007 by Prauge Traveler
4.0 out of 5 stars Tribes and Clans vs Superpowers
Using four case studies of conflict, Somalia, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq, the authors highlight the differences between conventional warfare with clearly established front... Read more
Published on March 23, 2007 by John T. McCabe
4.0 out of 5 stars How do you win if you have different definitions for "victory"?
Insurgents, Terrorists, And Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat is a very useful contribution to the growing body of literature of modern conflict. Read more
Published on February 20, 2007 by MountainRunner
3.0 out of 5 stars Academia Only Goes So Far
As a former Marine who has had experience in dealing with unconventional operations and counter-insurgency warfare, I agree with fellow Marine, D.A. Leonard "devintvi", below. Read more
Published on January 20, 2007 by Avid
4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes rather dry, but also provides interesting perspectives
The book's thrust is that in all wars you need to know your enemy and many of the US's current and likely future enemies are very different from those of the cold war. Read more
Published on January 6, 2007 by Graham
5.0 out of 5 stars Analyzing the Enemy Foot Soldier
This small book is an excellent introduction to the new type of warriors that the conventional armies of the world are facing. Read more
Published on September 26, 2006 by John Matlock
4.0 out of 5 stars History Notes
As Vizzini says in _Princess Bride_, "Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia. Read more
Published on August 5, 2006 by oldfatslow
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