Is it wrong to be excited that the US Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual came in the mail today? It probably is, but I am.
At the Small Wars Journal blog yesterday, they posted John Nagl's foreword. Why re-write the manual?
Although there are many reasons why the Army was unprepared for the insurgency in Iraq, among the most important was the lack of current counterinsurgency doctrine when the war began....It is not unfair to say that in 2003 most Army officers knew more about the U.S. Civil War than they did about counterinsurgency.
Consider the "whole of society" involvement of the new manual Nagl describes in detail on the SWJ post, substantially abbreviated below.
To take lead on perhaps the most important driver of intellectual change for the Army and Marine Corps—a complete rewrite of the interim Counterinsurgency Field Manual—Petraeus turned to his West Point classmate Conrad Crane...He took advantage of an Information Operations conference at Fort Leavenworth in December 2005 to pull together the core writing team and outline both the manual as a whole and the principles, imperatives, and paradoxes of counterinsurgency that would frame it....[at a mid-February 2006 conference], which brought together journalists, human rights advocates, academics, and practitioners of counterinsurgency, thoroughly revised the manual and dramatically improved it. Some military officers questioned the utility of the representatives from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) and the media, but they proved to be the most insightful of commentators. James Fallows, of the Atlantic Monthly, commented at the end of the conference that he had never seen such an open transfer of ideas in any institution, and stated that the nation would be better for more such exchanges.
And while we're on the topic of counterinsurgency readings, see the recent post by the Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) with their 2006 School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) monographs.
- Importance of ethics in counterinsurgency operations by Tony Archer
- Understanding measures of effectiveness in operations by Douglas Jones
- Civil information management in support of counterinsurgency operations by Jose Madera
- Winning the counterinsurgency fight in Iraq: the role of political culture in counterinsurgency warfare 2003-2006 in Iraq by Joseph Pepper
- Ethics, counterinsurgency, and perceptions in the information era by Steven Basilici
Here is a comprehensive list of COIN, irregular warfare unconventional warfare, low intensity conflict, small wars, peacekeeping operations, and urban operations monographs from the SAMS program going back from 2005 to 1985.