War today is far different from what we expected it to be. Counter-insurgency and protracted guerrilla warfare, not shock and awe, are the order of the day. The Australian David Kilcullen is the world's foremost expert on this way of war, and in "The Accidental Guerrilla", the Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to the Pentagon and architect of 'the ...
War today is far different from what we expected it to be. Counter-insurgency and protracted guerrilla warfare, not shock and awe, are the order of the day. The Australian David Kilcullen is the world's foremost expert on this way of war, and in "The Accidental Guerrilla", the Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to the Pentagon and architect of 'the Surge', surveys war as it is actually fought in the contemporary world. Colouring his account with gripping battlefield experiences that range from the highlands of Southeast Asia to the mountains of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the dusty towns of the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, "The Accidental Guerrilla" will, quite simply, change the way we think about war. While conventional warfare has obvious limits, Kilcullen stresses that neither counterterrorism nor traditional counterinsurgency is the appropriate framework to fight the enemy we now face. Traditional counterinsurgency is more effective than counterterrorism when it comes to entities like AlQaeda, but, as Kilcullen contends, our current focus is far too narrow, for it tends to emphasize one geographical region and one state. The current war presents a much different situation: stateless insurgents and terrorists operating across large number of countries and only loosely affiliated with each other. Just as importantly, Western armies have done a poor job of applying different tactics to different situations, continually misidentifying insurgents with limited aims and legitimate grievances as part of a coordinated worldwide network. Given the incremental-yet remarkable-success of Kilcullen's strategy in Iraq, what Kilcullen has to say will be widely anticipated. His vision of war has changed Western policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and this eagerly awaited comprehensive account will help shape policy for years to come.
Publishers Weekly, 2009-01-05 Kilcullen, adviser on counterinsurgency to General Petraeus, defines "accidental guerrillas" as locals fighting primarily because outsiders (often Westerners) are intruding into their physical and cultural space, but they may also be galvanized by high-tech, internationally oriented ideologues. This interaction of two kinds of nonstate opponents renders both traditional counterterrorism and counterinsurgency inadequate. Kilcullen uses Afghanistan and Iraq as primary case studies for a new kind of war that relies on an ability to provoke Western powers into protracted, exhausting, expensive interventions. Kilcullen presents two possible responses. Strategic disruption keeps existing terrorists off balance. Military assistance attacks the conditions producing "accidental guerrillas." That may mean full-spectrum assistance, involving an entire society. Moving beyond a simplistic "war on terror" depends on rebalancing military and nonmilitary elements of power. It calls for a long view, a measured approach and a need to distinguish among various enemies. It requires limiting the role of government agencies in favor of an indirect approach emphasizing local interests and local relationships. Not least, Kilcullen says, breaking the terrorist cycle requires establishing patterns of "virtue, moral authority, and credibility" in the larger society. Kilcullen's compelling argument merits wide attention. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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