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The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual 1st Edition

59 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226841519
ISBN-10: 0226841510
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Editorial Reviews


“The book to begin with in looking for a revised 21st-century strategy [in our war on terror] is, unexpectedly, the landmark U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. It was released as a government document in December 2006, but owing to its enormous popularity . . . it has now been published by a university press, with a provocative, highly readable new foreword and introduction that testify to the manual’s ‘paradigm-shattering’ content. . . . Sarah Sewall, a former Pentagon official who teaches at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard . . . has contributed an introduction that should be required reading for anybody who wants to understand the huge demands effective counterinsurgency will place on the military and the voting public."—Samantha Power, New York Times
(Samantha Power New York Times 2007-07-29)

“Just in time for the renewal of the war debate in Congress, the University of Chicago Press has released The U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. . . . It’s a nifty volume, not only because it gives you a sense of what our most highly regarded military theorists are thinking but because sometimes what they’re thinking is the last thing you’d expect. Especially interesting is a section called 'Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency Operations,' which tells us: 'Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction' and 'Sometimes, the more force is used, the less effective it is.'”—David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times

(David L. Ulin Los Angeles Times 2007-07-13)

"The military doctrine set forth in our field manual matters, but because it is usually only available to those in the military, it is not widely known or available outside that small audience. . . . By publishing the new Army/Marine Corps counterinsurgency field manual, the U. of C. is correcting that situation with this, probably the most important piece of doctrine written in the past 20 years. . . . It is also, probably, the single most important document one can read to make sense out of what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan."

(Robert Bateman Chicago Tribune)

"An attempt by our military to redefine itself in the aftermath of 9/11 and the new world of international terrorism, [the Manual] will play a vital role in American military campaigns for years to come."

"[This] book has helped make counterinsurgency part of the zeitgeist. It has become a coffee-table staple in Washington. . . . In short, this is not your parents' military field manual."
(Colin H. Kahl Foreign Affairs)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (July 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226841510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226841519
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A native of Omaha, I attended Creighton Prep High School and the US Military Academy at West Point. I attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, eventually earning my doctorate; it was published as Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife. I served in the US Army for twenty years, seeing combat in both Iraq Wars and helping write the US Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. I served as the second President of the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC and have taught undergraduates at West Point and at the US Naval Academy and graduate students at Georgetown University before becoming Headmaster of The Haverford School. My book KNIFE FIGHTS: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice, will be published by Penguin on October 16th.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

183 of 193 people found the following review helpful By Joseph P. Martino on August 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book has become famous or notorious (take you pick) because it was written under the direction of Gen. David H. Petraeus, as of this review the commanding general of American forces in Iraq. I want to prescind from the Iraq question and address the book on its own merits.

First, my qualifications. I am a retired Air Force Colonel (non-flying). During the Vietnam war I was heavily involved in Operations Research on counterinsurgency. For five years I was Chairman of the Special Warfare Working Group of the Military Operations Research Society. I spent 20 months in Thailand and Vietnam, running tests on electronic equipment for use by US and allied forces battling insurgents, and gathering and analyzing data on insurgency in Vietnam and Laos.

What's in this book?

Chapter One is a historical survey of insurgency and the problems of countering it. It draws heavily from the Vietnam experience, but goes as far back as the ethnic struggles in England (Welsh, Scots, Irish) against the Crown. While the historical coverage is broad, it does not, and is not intended to, give coverage in depth.

Chapter Two discusses the need for integration of the civilian and military activities in counterinsurgency. What's new about this? Nothing. I wrote the same things (though perhaps not as well) while in Southeast Asia over forty years ago. The fact that it's not new doesn't mean it's not important. It's critical. The fact that it's now in a Field Manual is highly significant.

Chapter Three deals with intelligence gathering in counterinsurgency. While the military commander is always in need of intelligence about the enemy (who, where, what, when), the problems of gathering this intelligence for counterinsurgency are very different from those of conventional war.
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70 of 76 people found the following review helpful By T.A.L. Dozer VINE VOICE on July 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a reprint of the Army/Marine Counter-Insurgency (COIN) manual. But this book is more then a reprint and is worth the money just for the multiple forewords and the Introduction to this edition. All were written by subject matter experts in their field. One foreword in particular is written by John Nagal author of the COIN cult "Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam: Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife" re-released as "Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam," what makes this so interesting is that Nagal had a hand in developing and writing the manual with a group of renowned COIN experts. I am not sure if the others helped develop this manual for the military, but their forewords are just as interesting. For the content of the manual it will soon become the bible of COIN warfare/operations, it is by far the most detailed manual on the subject. It covers theories, tactics, techniques and procedures as used by various countries from various conflicts and lays these methods out within the current U.S. military context. This book is not meant to be specific to the Iraq or Afghanistan insurgency but is meant to be a "tool bag" of methods and ideas to be adapted to various conflicts. Finally the manual was reformatted in to an oversized handbook with a laminate type card cover with rounded corners that make it perfect to slip into a kit bag or rucksack. This is a must own for all soldiers (E1 and up!), politicians and concerned citizens.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Smith on March 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I actually bought this book some months back but I kept putting off picking it up because I assumed this would be a dense work filled with military jargon and more acronyms than one could shake a stick at. I assumed that it would be a tedious and difficult read so I found reasons to put it off, but when I finally forced myself to begin this book I was quite shocked. The book is very easy to read and very well written. The book has just a few acronyms that I had memorized within a couple of pages after their introduction, and the book is very well laid out with impeccable organization (as should be expected I guess). I dare say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book on all levels. Of course the information and the knowledge to be gleaned from this work is extremely important.

I think if this book were to become required reading for students then I think we could prevent some costly misadventures in future because this book really details what an occupation requires. Everyone would understand that military action will require a deep level of commitment for the military and on all levels of civil society as well.

I also think it is the least we can do as citizens to educate ourselves on what our military men and women are doing and attempting to implement in situations where they face this type of conflict. One gets a sense of what a soldier goes through and the huge load that is put on the ordinary soldier. It is an extremely difficult task they are asked to perform in these situations, and they are asked to perform this task with honor and discretion in the face of terrible situations.
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61 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on December 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
The only reason I'm writing this review is because you don't have to pay for this! It was written by employees of the government (i.e. paid for by U.S. tax dollars) and is available for free.

Yes, you can get a few more words in the form of an introduction, but the field manual is an unclassified government document. It's unlimited distribution is approved and the average citizen can find a copy just by searching the internet for "FM 3-24" - FM is an acronym for Field Manual.

One source is: [...]

As far as the text, I've had the opportunity to hear both GEN Petraeus and LTC (Ret.) John Nagl, major contributors to the manual, speak on the subject of counterinsurgency. If you want to read about the ideas behind the manual, it's largely based of David Galula's work titled "Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice". Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (PSI Classics of the Counterinsurgency Era) is a major reprint. If you really want to pay for a text, I'd suggest purchasing that work.

Other reviewers have already made appropriate comments on the content of the manual. I'll just add that the manual itself is meant for military practical application at the operational and strategic levels; the audience is Soldiers and Marines. As such, some of the application may be foreign to "Average Joe".

If you're interested in this manual, I'd also suggest reading FM 3-24.2, "Tactics in Counterinsurgency", which was written for practical application at the tactical level.
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