- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 16, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195368347
- ISBN-13: 978-0195368345
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.4 x 6.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 100 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #799,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Kilcullen, adviser on counterinsurgency to General Petraeus, defines accidental guerrillas as locals fighting primarily because outsiders (often Westerners) are intruding into their physical and cultural space, but they may also be galvanized by high-tech, internationally oriented ideologues. This interaction of two kinds of nonstate opponents renders both traditional counterterrorism and counterinsurgency inadequate. Kilcullen uses Afghanistan and Iraq as primary case studies for a new kind of war that relies on an ability to provoke Western powers into protracted, exhausting, expensive interventions. Kilcullen presents two possible responses. Strategic disruption keeps existing terrorists off balance. Military assistance attacks the conditions producing accidental guerrillas. That may mean full-spectrum assistance, involving an entire society. Moving beyond a simplistic war on terror depends on rebalancing military and nonmilitary elements of power. It calls for a long view, a measured approach and a need to distinguish among various enemies. It requires limiting the role of government agencies in favor of an indirect approach emphasizing local interests and local relationships. Not least, Kilcullen says, breaking the terrorist cycle requires establishing patterns of virtue, moral authority, and credibility in the larger society. Kilcullen's compelling argument merits wide attention. (Mar.)
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"This book should be required reading for every American soldier, as well as anyone involved in the war on terror. Kilcullen's central concept of the 'accidental guerrilla' is brilliant and the policy prescriptions that flow from it important. And that's not all; the book has many more insights drawn from various battlefields." --Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek
"Kilcullen's compelling argument merits wide attention."--Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"David Kilcullen, man of action and man of ideas, has produced a rare--and indispensable--guide to understanding and winning the so-called 'war on terror' by combining ideas of military theory with those of culture and tradition among tribal peoples." --Professor Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies, American University, Washington DC.
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Kilcullen's policy prescriptions are in my view more clearly enunciated the closer he gets to the tactical level than the grand strategic. This is in part due to his reliance on case studies focused squarely on tactical and operational experience (considerable analysis/personal experience from Afghanistan and Iraq and somewhat more succinct studies of East Timor, Southern Thailand and Pakistan's Tribal Areas), which are mostly excellent. The discussion of Australian operations in East Timor is a little cringe-worthy - by not conceding there was no real, enduring Tier 1 threat against INTERFET that had any prospect of mobilising Tier 2 guerrillas, Kilcullen here sounds a bit too self-congratulatory and reminded me a bit of Running the War in Iraq: an Australian general, 300,000 troops, the bloodiest conflict of our time. His discussion of possible wider strategic responses to Islamic fundamentalist militancy is less prescriptive (if inclusive of a lot of good sense, in particular redressing the balance of military versus non-military means of state power) and not quite as compelling - I suspect partly due to the author's own ambivalence as to how serious the threat is. If it is largely a law enforcement problem as he argues in part, what is the necessity of a ARCADIA-style conference to hammer out a grand strategy between major powers struggling for national survival (as in 1942)? I fear that an ARCADIA between states not facing a perceived existential threat (or hoping to buck-pass their way out of it) would end up being more like a Munich Conference - somebody would end up being the people of which we know little getting their liberty traded away - perhaps better in these circumstances for liberal democracies to consider the issue "one campaign or crisis at a time"?
For those with an interest in counterinsurgency, this is a "must read", if for no other reason that everybody else with an interest will have read it and formed an opinion. Fortunately, it is accessible, sensible and with a few real insights thrown in, and is worth the investment in time. A tiny bit under the five stars Amazon will let me give it, and I will take it with me when I deploy again in the near future - that has to be some sort of recommendation.
I have read Kilcullen's book Counter-Insurgemcy. It was also great, but this one has give me a different perspective on Counter-insurgency and the Global War on Terror. He makes some important points and also illuminates the problems with the U.S.'s strategy in the Global War on Terror. He differentiates domestic groups with grievance against their government and the global radical religious movement, which is seen as a global insurgency. The radical religious movements will exploit situations where local groups contest government rule. According to Kilcullen, the US has made a mistake in treating the local verus the global insurgents as the same movement. Kilcullin lays out the mistakes that have been made in the GWT and offers practical guidance to policymakers.
I agree with Fareed Zakaria that everyone who has anything to do with combating violent extremism should read this book. The author's analysis is insightful, thorough and honest. While not avoiding analysis of past mistakes he is very tactful and non-accusatory in his wording. I suppose that is due, at least in part, to his ongoing relationship with and employment by our government in counter-insurgency study and advice. Or perhaps just good manners. But while he is careful not to point fingers he pulls no punches about what has been and is being done wrong.
This book ranks with David Galula's "Counterinsurgency Warfare" and extends his principles into today's world. I cannot more strongly recommend this book.