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The New Counterinsurgency Era

Publication Year: 2009

Confronting insurgent violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has recognized the need to ôre-learnö counterinsurgency. But how has the Department of Defense with its mixed efforts responded to this new strategic environment? Has it learned any

Published by: Georgetown University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

When an insurgency erupted in Iraq in the hot summer of 2003, the U.S. military was unprepared to counter it. Since then, the Department of Defense has painfully relearned a number of old lessons about the nature and conduct of successful counterinsurgency campaigns. ...

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pp. ix-x

I owe debts of gratitude to a number of people who have contributed significantly to the completion of this study.At the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, I am in the first place thankful to Mats Berdal for his generous support, thoughtfulness, and friendship from the very beginning of the process. ...

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pp. 1-6

The U.S. military has historically paid little attention to the nature and requirements of counterinsurgency and stability operations. Missions pitting the U.S. military against insurgents, or forcing it into stabilization tasks and policing duties abroad, have tended to be dismissed as beyond the military’s remit or as “lesser-included” operations.1 ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. 7-8

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1 Framing the Reorientation

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pp. 9-24

This book assesses the efforts of the U.S. Department of Defense since 2001 to improve the U.S. military’s ability to conduct counterinsurgency and stability operations. It is a topic that raises inevitable definitional and theoretical issues that must be resolved. What is meant by “stability operations,” and how do they differ from “counterinsurgency” campaigns? ...

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2 A Troubled History

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pp. 25-46

The U.S. military’s learning of stability operations cannot be fully understood, nor its significance grasped, without some awareness of this institution’s troubled relation to counterinsurgency. Throughout history, the U.S. military has typically neglected counterinsurgency as a mission—despite repeated operational experience with such campaigns. ...

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3 Revisiting Counterinsurgency

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pp. 47-63

The U.S. military’s attitude toward stability operations at the turn of the twenty-first century can be understood as a combination of disinterest and aversion. The defense reviews and planning documents of the time made token nods to the need to prepare for “full-spectrum” operations or to counter “asymmetric” threats but skirted over the complexities...

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4 Innovation under Fire

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pp. 65-80

One year into the Iraq campaign counterinsurgency gradually became more relevant to the senior echelons of the Pentagon. At this point, the DoD leadership came to see the instability in postwar Iraq as a crucial challenge to the installation of a democratic and stable regime.1 ...

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5 Counterinsurgency and the QDR

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pp. 81-102

The gathering pace of DoD’s reorientation toward counterinsurgency in late 2005 generated great anticipation for the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review, scheduled for release in early 2006. The practice of reviewing and setting policy through department-wide quadrennial reports began in 1996. ...

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6 FM 3-24 and Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon

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pp. 103-117

Despite the QDR’s marginalization of counterinsurgency and stability operations, the ongoing instability in Iraq gave special relevance to the activities of the COIN community, which continued to push the military towards a greater understanding of such missions. In 2006, this process culminated in the release of FM 3-24/MCWP 3-33.5...

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7 The Ambivalence of the “Surge”

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pp. 119-140

The launch of Operation Faardh al-Qanoon in February 2007 put Gen. David Petraeus and the COIN community squarely in the spotlight. Having developed an approach to counterinsurgency through years of research and writing, Petraeus and other officers were now in charge of putting that approach into practice...

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8 Innovation or Inertia

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pp. 141-167

The U.S. military’s prosecution of counterinsurgency in Iraq intensified a polemic within DoD as to how far the learning of counterinsurgency should be allowed to proceed, whether the armed services’ traditional capabilities were eroding, and whether a return to conventional priorities was now needed. ...

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Conclusion: Kicking the Counterinsurgency Syndrome?

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pp. 169-182

The U.S. military’s learning of counterinsurgency has in many ways been remarkable, particularly in light of the institution’s prior marginalization of such operations.1 The reorientation can be said to have started in early 2004, with subsequent innovation occurring on three levels. ...


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pp. 183-218


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pp. 219-243

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About the Author

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pp. 245

David H. Ucko is a Transatlantic Fellow at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, Germany. A former research fellow at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, Dr. Ucko has also enjoyed fellowships with the RAND Corporation, the Institute for National Strategic Studies of the National Defense University (NDU)...


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pp. 247-258

E-ISBN-13: 9781589017283
E-ISBN-10: 1589017285
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589014886
Print-ISBN-10: 158901488X

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Military policy.
  • Iraq War, 2003-.
  • Military planning -- United States.
  • Counterinsurgency -- United States.
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