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Showing 1-10 of 10 reviews(4 star, Verified Purchases). See all 68 reviews
on May 30, 2010
Firstly, this is a seminal text in the art of counterinsurgency; it stands as the first revision to american military doctrine in the area since the Vietnam war, and should be applauded as a revolutionary document. As such, I will try to articulate where I felt the text falls short compared to other available texts on counterinsurgency.

First "Grievance": This manual does not formalize its' discussion of identity; sensitivity to local culture is emphasized, as it should be emphasized, but no model is extended to illustrate how political identity in counterinsurgency works. Despite the complexities of such a topic, it is actually not difficult to graph how an group's identity is "shaped". For example, one might list major sources of identity in order of how exclusive they are, then rank them by drawing a curve with the "most important" contents of identity holding the highest points on the curve. This would have been a helpful visual tool for COIN forces on the ground to quickly diagnose where the power is in the AO and how to engage the target population through the avenues of the pre-established political culture (all of which the text emphasizes in spades).

Second "Grievance": This manual was written amidst the chaos of the surge, and as such does not include the details of its' particular successes and failures (moving out of forward operating bases long-term, bandwagoning Shieks, etc.) Despite being state of the art, this manual stands to gain a great deal when the next edition is printed.

Third and last "Grievance": This manual contains some great vignettes from American COIN efforts over the last century. Including more of these (including explicit bad examples that show errors in preexisting COIN logic) would have been extremely helpful.

As such, I highly recommend this book. To fill in the above three gaps, I would recommend David Kilcullen's The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One, as well as T.X. Hammes' The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century.
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on June 1, 2010
The U.S. Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, some say, is an odd book for a business analyst to read.

But in my work, as a competitive strategy analyst engaging with NGO and activist organizations, having a good understanding of this book can be an asset, especially so given that many of the organizations I study have written that they have used this manual to inform their own strategies.

Certainly, many of the sections such as "Developing Host-Nation Security Forces" and the sections on logistics and "Detention and Interrogation" are not directly applicable to the development of business strategy opposing adversarial advocacy organizations. However, the sections on "Intelligence in Counterinsurgency," understanding the environment, and planning and strategy execution can be very helpful, and are must reads for any business professional who engages with NGOs and activists who are more destructive than constructive.
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on December 30, 2007
I've been studying insurgent warfare for a long time before it became a hot topic... again. I still recommend Galula's Counterinsurgency Warfare and Hamilton's The Art of Insurgency which is a great book but is little referenced. There are of course books by Kitson and others. (Nagl's book which I've reviewed is a good dissertation but is limited in it scope and perception. He writes the forward to this edition.) The two volume War in the Shadows is okay background but not worth a two volume read. Which brings us to the Counterinsurgency Field Manual, which if you are serving and only have time to access one source, this is a dependable one.

Although the CFM is oriented more toward the current unpleasantness the principles of counterinsurgency have been carefully gleaned from the best sources and multiple situations as well as updating insurgent response for the 21st century. Keeping food deliveries out of active insurgent areas might have worked for the British in Malaya, but you could imagine the field day CNN would have with it today. Probably the best things the writers do in this manual is freely admit that the devil is in the details and that these will have to be worked out locally and supported nationally.

For those who still aren't buying into "the insurgent stuff" which unfortunately over the last 30+ years has gone under state department approved phrases like "nation building" and executive office of the President terms like "counter terrorism" you don't have to worry that the Army or Marines are going to lose their conventional edge with these approaches. The CFM makes it clear that this is only one form or warfare and that modern war can slip across the entire spectrum. What is not needed is more doctrine...what is needed is a tool box and the CFM attempts to be one of those tools.

The CFM makes many good points and I'm not going to list them all here, but the most important one I felt has to do with the assumption of more risk. Insurgent warfare requires soldiers to go out and get in the streets with people to provide the basic security for everyday activities that will lead to a legitimate government. Legitimacy cannot come from the national level down no matter what form of government people actually settle for (A basic concept found in any undergraduate PolySci 101 class which no one in the State Deptment or Congress must have taken.) The average Joe doesn't care about the grand schemes. He wants to go to work, get married, raise a family and have a shot at some level of comfort without getting killed. The key to winning against insurgents is that the most committed to providing these basic parameters for the average Joe, wins. You show your true colors and level of commitment when you have to go out and get shot at. But the alternative, which never works, and we still seem to be doing is to concentrate forces on large FOB's and separate them from the population. This has got to be one of the toughest of balancing acts to provide force protection, logistics as well as force projection and maintenance that supports an ongoing relationship with the civilian population. Fighting an insurgency is not for the faint hearted, the draftee, or those who needed to be reelected every 2 years. It takes soldiers in neighborhoods who know the people and have the power to affect their lives...albeit indirectly if possible.

I disagree with the CFM on two points. I disagree with using the idea of "counterinsurgency" for philosophical reasons. The term by its very nature places you at a disadvantage to the insurgents. I believe you fight an insurgent war and win it by being better insurgents, not by being better "counterinsurgents." But this is probably more a matter of semantics. My second area of disagreement is really the book itself. This "new" book on insurgent warfare is really a great gazette of all the current knowledge that has been around for years plus the all necessary Army doctrine, without which the lowliest private cannot have a bowel movement. The Army's "can't do it without doctrine" attitude is what made this book come out so far behind the power curve to begin with. All this information is and has been known and available but the Army couldn't "discover" it. The US has a long insurgent history that is little studied or learned from. Our nation was founded by an insurgency. We've fought insurgents throughout our history: Native Americans, especially in the West, the border struggles during the Civil War, Phillipines, Cuba, Nicuagua, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. As organizations that need to be highly adaptable, the Army and the Marines need to stop paying tuition for the same lessons over and over again. I realize that not all of this lack of organizational awareness is theirs. A great deal of the responsibility for lack of responsiveness lies at the feet of elected officials who do not do their part and provide the clarity of purpose upon which coherent military strategies are based. The mist in Congress becomes a dense fog for those who are tasked with the nation's defense.
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on January 3, 2015
Very helpful and detailed. Helps bring you up to speed on the mentality needed and being dealt with. It is lengthy and detailed but seems way too drawn out. Get coffee, energy drink, energy shot anything to keep you awake while reading this.
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on July 20, 2014
I got this book to find out the mind set that out troops have to have today. Our Military is asked to do a lot of things in our name. I just believe that we should see what it is we are asking them to do. This book is and interesting read.
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on December 5, 2012
Even if you are not connected with the Military, you will learn so much about the "new way" of war...winning "hearts and minds" in a different way of war. It will make news reports more clear to you as to the objectives of the kinds of wars with no "lines". Actually, I wished I had read this over 10 years ago!
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on February 24, 2016
No idea why my son wanted but he did and has yet to even look at it so no clue?
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on August 13, 2016
as expected
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on December 14, 2014
OLD VERSION BUT STILL APPLICABLE. USED IN A COINOPS COURSE IN THE USMC.
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on April 6, 2015
just what i was looking for a lot of info .
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