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The Counterinsurgency Field Manual is a surprisingly well considered text on the nature of insurgency and the points where the course of an insurgency can be influenced.
A caveat up front; this book is available in pdf from the Army website for free. Hard copy may be more appropriate to your needs though.
Something is (or should be) rather confusing about the U.S. military. Since the inception of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, the U.S. military has been involved with counterinsurgency operations almost constantly, at home and abroad. (Put this way, Americans were waging counterinsurgency since before there was a United States; the French and Indian War...) What is confusing is 'why isn't the U.S. better at it?'
Setting this underlying question to one side, this text sets forth a framework for understanding the causes of insurgencies, and for dealing with them. The full scope of cultural, economic, social, political, and other factors are addressed in considerable detail, along with approaches to influencing these factors to address the root causes of insurgency. It is a robust, comprehensive work that can provide an adaptable conceptual structure for anyone involved in counterinsurgency or issues relating to counterinsurgency.
The big question in my mind; Why did the Army have to manage developing this process, when more than half the work required to respond to an insurgency should be done or overseen by the State Department? Why do soldiers have to arrange economic reconstruction and infrastructure development? Aren't those folks at the State Department competent to do all this stuff?
Though David H. Petraeus is the most forward-thinking of recent U.S. Army generals, this work would only be of much help to senior officers. It suffers from (typically Western) "top-down" research--breaking down every topic into as many subsets as possible and then saying something about each. For the average U.S. Congressman or citizen, that then constitutes knowledge. For those at the bottom of the military hierarchy, it offers very little insight on how actually to perform their subset. For how a platoon or company "manual on counterinsurgency" might look, one must refer to other books, e.g. "Tequila Junction." On a more positive note, this work officially admits to insurgencies being largely countered through nonmartial arenas--psychological/religious, economic, and political. Because of the strict separation of responsibilities within the U.S. govt., the U.S. military has been too seldom allowed to influence these other arenas.
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Wasnt really what i thought it was gonna be. As with This Book.... its just too much really. This book also wasnt what i thought it was gonna be really. Buy yourself some Ragnar Benson instead i guess. Its just so dry and almost liberal in nature that im gonna have to read it again just to pull the info i want from it and maybe write it into the back of another book or something.
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Any one who is interested in the nature of insurgencies would be much better served reading "Violent Politics" than this dry work by a self-infatuated Great Captain wannabe. General Petraeus has had several opportunities to put his precepts into practice, to the cost of thousand of young lives and limbs. Unfortunately for them and for him the insurgents didn't get around to reading his book. Or perhaps they did, and had a good laugh over it. Read Sun Tzu, Jomini or Clausewitz, or Thucydides, and don't waste your time on this self-serving rubbish.