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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
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"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.
Top Customer Reviews
David points out that while many US Military leaders where congratulating themselves on the supremacy of US strength and overwhelming dominance new hybrid threats emerged, ones we at first denied and now struggle to adapt to. While the US maintained that no major land war would ever occur again because of our massive armaments, the Chinese, for example, were developing the idea of unrestricted warfare. Colonel Qiao, said, "the first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden."
Turns out that there are more wars and violence, not less, despite US dominance. The author offers four possible models for understanding why this situation exists and what responses can be taken. These localized wars could be 1) a backlash against Globalization 2) Insurgency has been globalized, i.e. funded and used by large interests that exceed national boundaries such as religious forces 3) a civil war within Islam, and 4) asymmetric warfare, that security should be understand from a functional and capability standpoint leaving the politics out of the evaluation and response.
Great book if you want to understand the dangerous world in which we live and why simplistic answers no longer work.Read more ›
Starting with two major case studies (Afghanistan and Iraq) and a few smaller ones (East Timor, Thailand, Pakistan, and the European Union), David Kilcullen builds several arguments. The most salient point to me were the need to identify both overarching patterns (like the movement of Al Qaida money and people) and to develop a refined understanding of each insurgency or movement in isolation. Also important are the concepts of the relative nature of "foreigner", "outsider", "invader" etc. and the absence of absolutes in counterinsurgency.
The case studies are well constructed and rapidly convey the complexity of the cultures and the implications of those complexities, as well as clearly identifying tactics and strategies for gaining the upperhand in the strategic sense. The central point, that many "insurgents" are locals who feel threatened operating with 'outsiders' (who threaten the locals) against other 'outsiders' (who also threaten the locals), is an old lesson of World War II Balkans, the British intervension in Malaysia, the French in Indochina and later the U.S. in Viet Nam. As far as I can tell, the reason it is forgotten is that Western militaries want to focus on big budget, big contract, high tech, maneuver warfare, and diplomats don't want to discuss conflict at all. Guerrilla warfare fits neither world view. Part of the strategic solution to these conflicts is address the issues that are exploited by "foreign fighters" (a.k.a. Al Qaida, but Communists in the past, and who knows what movements in the future).Read more ›
Kilcullen writes in a very complex style, uses big words and long paragraphs. In short, it is not an easy-read, listen-to-the-radio, relax by the fire type of book. Reading it requires concentration-I couldn't really read more than 40 pages or so at a single sitting without taking some time to digest the info.
My only other criticism is it is not clear what the target audience is for this book. It is certainly not a mass-market paperback-I would guess the casual reader stops at page 20. But it seems a little light for the diplomatic/intelligence crowd. Rather it is more like an executive summary (albeit a large one) of a 10,000 page CIA analysis.
Now the good points.
First, subject to the above caveats, Kilcullen writes very well. His writing is logically constructed, concise, and has excellent grammar.
This is a man who knows what he is talking about. Kilcullen has advised General Petraeus in the "surge", has first hand knowledge of various insurgencies around the world, and is capable of well-reasoned analysis. I am by no means an expert in the subject, but after reading this book I feel that I know more about low-intensity warfare than most of the world's population, and half its politicians.
Kilcullen approaches the subject from the bottom up. Why are people fighting, who are they fighting, what do they believe in, what resources do they have, what are they willing to risk. Only when those questions are answered, does it make any sense to talk about strategy and tactics. The large powers of the world always seem to get this wrong, both today and in the historical cases cited in the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
David Killcullen in Accidental Guerilla lays out a highly plausible theory on how nations involve themselves in these hybrid war types of combat. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Michael Griswold
Kilcullen seems to be all over the place in the world and in his "theories" of why jihadist, guerrillas, terrorist, insurgents, anti insurgents, extremist, whatever the... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Guido
Another tome written by an expert paid to advise the US military and every other senior person on how to win the war but all those meeting, studies , monies and slides didn't... Read morePublished 8 months ago by wpapac
An excellent broad overview of on the ground conditions in our current conflict, with several in-depth studies of success and failure patterns by district, with analysis of... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Alan Smith
The books is easy to ready but covers plenty of detail to support the David Kilcullen's positions. I'm undoubtedly biased because the idea of maneuver warfare that considers all... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Bohdan Rohbock
Dr Kilcullen has succinctly summarized his extensive experience in counter insurgency warfare by discussing the American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the way ahead... Read morePublished on July 27, 2014 by John J.Elam