David Kilcullen is one of the world’s most influential experts on counterinsurgency and modern warfare. A senior advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq, his vision of war powerfully influenced America’s decision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq and implement ‘the Surge’, now recognised as a dramatic success.
In Counterinsurgency, Kilcullen brings together his most salient writings on this key topic. At the heart of the book is his legendary ‘Twenty-Eight Articles’, in which he shows company leaders how to practise counterinsurgency in the real world, ‘at night, with the GPS down, the media criticizing you, the locals complaining in a language you don’t understand, and an unseen enemy killing your people by ones and twos’. Reading this piece is like reading a modern-day Sun Tzu — in such pithy adages as ‘Rank is nothing: talent is everything’ or ‘Train the squad leaders — then trust them’, Kilcullen offers advice that any leader would be wise to consider. The other pieces in this book include Kilcullen’s pioneering study of counterinsurgency in Indonesia, his ten-point plan for ‘the Surge’ in Iraq, and his frank look at the problems in Afghanistan. He concludes with a new strategic approach to the ‘War on Terror’, arguing that counterinsurgency rather than traditional counterterrorism may offer the best approach to defeating global jihad.
Counterinsurgency is a picture of modern warfare by someone who has had his boots on the ground in some of today’s worst trouble spots — including Iraq and Afghanistan — and who has been studying the topic since 1995. Filled with down-to-earth, common-sense insights, this book is indispensable for all those who are interested in making sense of our world in an age of terror.