Sécurité Globale tackles COIN

Stéphane Taillat, of the En Vérité blog, and Georges-Henri Brivet des Vallons have helped compiled the latest issue of Sécurité Globale, which focuses in part on counterinsurgency and irregular warfare. The issue brings together English- and French-speaking researchers on these topic, including Michel Goya, whose piece on Afghanistan and the U.S. military I mentioned in [...]

‘Set your weapons on stun’

I am normally deeply sceptical of any report that appears to sell a technological fix to the deep complexities of counterinsurgency and stability operations, but I am going to make an important exception to that rule to bring attention to this recent RAND publication on non-lethal technology. Cleverly entitled ‘Underkill’ and authored by a team [...]

Book review: Mark Moyar’s A Question of Command

The latest issue of the Journal of Military History contains, among a great many things, a review I wrote of Mark Moyar’s latest book, A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq (Yale University Press). Given the amount of discussion of Moyar’s book online (here, here, and here), I asked and received [...]

U.S. COIN ops in the Arghandab river valley

Sean Naylor has a lengthy piece in the Army Times on the conduct of counterinsurgency operations in the Arghandab River Valley, Afghanistan. The piece is extremely interesting because it hints at the lack of agreement across rank as to what counterinsurgency entails or should look like. In this case, you have a very negative bottom-up [...]

COIN and the importance of history

Counterinsurgency theory emphasises that understanding your environment – its politics, economics, history and culture – matters, a lot. Counterinsurgents must understand the area’s formal and informal structures and actors, the relation between them, as well as the fears, aspirations and mindsets of the people among whom they will operate. These types of exhortations are made [...]

Integrating Counterinsurgency in Military Education (Updated)

Maj. Niel Smith, formerly of the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center, has written a very important article for the Small Wars Journal on the integration of counterinsurgency in the Army’s professional military education (PME). In it, he argues that:
Counterinsurgency instruction remains uneven in quantity and quality throughout Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) [...]

Force structure for irregular operations

Maj. Kenneth J. Burgess, U.S. Army, has an excellent piece in the latest issue of Military Affairs, where he discusses the possible changes that are needed to align U.S. Army force structure to the requirements of today’s operating environment. He cleverly flips the Army argument against force specialisation on its head by pointing out that [...]

Video now available: NWC Irregular War Conference (Updated)

The U.S. Naval War College has released videos from its conference in September, entitled ‘Irregular Warfare: Nasty, Brutish but Not Short’.
The conference brought together some of the sharpest minds on this topic and also some experts not usually associated with the ‘COIN community’ who were able to lend valuable perspective on some of its unquestioned [...]

Lt-Col Michel Goya’s ‘Vietnam Spiral’ in Afghanistan

Lt-Col Michel Goya, director of studies at the new Institut de recherche stratégique de l’Ecole militaire, in France, has published an article on the U.S. military’s ‘Vietnam Spiral’ in Afghanistan. The text is in French but struck me as somewhat out of key with other articles, footage and anecdotes on the U.S. military’s efforts in [...]

Abu Muqawama interview on ‘New COIN Era’

Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security featured The New Counterinsurgency Era on his blog, Abu Muqawama. He asked me some very important and very difficult questions about the U.S. military’s learning of counterinsurgency, and where I see this process going in the next few years. You may also be interested in [...]