Review: The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual

5 Star, Insurgency & Revolution

COINBest in Class MILITARY Manual–Need Civilian Peace SOP, October 15, 2008

Sarah Sewall et al

The publisher should load the table of contents and nominate this important book for “Inside the Book” digitization.

Since the publisher has failed to do that, for now (pending my substantive summative review) I will just list the top level table of contents.

Chapter 1. Insurgency & Counterinsurgency
Chapter 2. Unity of Effort: Integrating Civilian and Military Activities
[This is fine for a military cursory glance, but what we really need are two other volumes: a civilian counterpart to this military manual; and a strategic planning mannual that includes both resources we control and resources we can influence with unclassified multinational decision support]
Chapter 3. Intelligence in Counterinsurgency
[This chapter is deep and broad–someone tried very hard to get it right and at first glance, it appears vastly superior to the tripe that has been published before.]
Chapter 4. Designing Counterinsurgency Campaigns and Operations
[This is new thinking and demands careful reading]
Chapter 5. Executing Counterinsurgency Operations
Chapter 6. Developing Host-Nation Security Forces
[This will need development, perhaps in the strategic manual. Apart from the obvious that the professionals knew but the political lightweights refused: go in strong enough to keep the peace, do not disband the armed forces and police, pay them first, it seems to me we need to do much much more with Ambassador Bob Oakley's original thinking on Policing the New World Disorder, and invest heavily in REGIONAL stability forces and REGIONAL gendarme reserve forces.]
Chapter 7. Leadership and Ethics for Counterinsurgency
[Important, but I continue to be shocked at the way we vacuum people into confinement, and by the reality that stupid kids with camaras not-withstanding, we cannot overcome an unethical White House or Secretary of Defense in the field–this section could use discussion of what constitutes an illegal order and what each level of operations can do to refuse an illegal order.]
Chapter 8. Sustainment
[Good start but already out of date. Army is doing some extraordinary things in “eating the tail” by implementing renewable power solutions at the outposts so that ground-based heavy logistics are dramatically reduced. Very positive focus on logistics preparation of the battlefield but misses the larger issue: secret intelligence could care less about logisticians, who have a legitimate need for bridge weights, tunnel clearance, ferry times, pierside outlet specifications, cross-country trafficability, line of sight distances along the supply line, and so on. The fact is that intelligence support to both acquisition and to logistics STINKS, and this needs draconian scorched earth management.]
Appendix A. A Guide for Action
Appendix B. Social Network Analysis and Other Analytical Tools
Appendix C. Linguist Support
Appendix D. Legal Considerations
Appendic E. Airpower in Counterinsurgency

I like this book, very much. It's is a really good first step, but it is only a UNILATERAL MILITARY first step.

The U.S. Government is still not serious–in the White House or in Congress–about deep sustained interagency and coalition operations.

They have no idea how to create a Global Range of Gifts Table down to the household level, how to call in Peace from the Sea and Peace from Above, how to use decision support to influence $500 billion a year in investments by others, how to encourage call centers in China and India (each of which have 1.5 billion for a total of 3 billion of the 5 billion poor) that can both provide instant translation support to operators and free education to the poor, in their own language, “one cell call at a time.”

Bottom line: General Al Gray nailed it in 1989, in his article “Global Intelligence Challenges in the 1990's.” Key words: “peaceful preventive measures, non-state actors, and open source intelligence.” No one wanted to listen then, and most are still conceptually-challenged now.

See also:
Policing the New World Disorder: Peace Operations and Public Security
Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century
Uncomfortable Wars Revisited
Modern irregular warfare: In defense policy and as a military phenomenon
Guerrilla Warfare: Irregular Warfare in the Twentieth Century (Stackpole Military History Series)
Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror: Military Culture and Irregular War (Stanford Security Studies)
Asymmetric Warfare: Threat and Response in the 21st Century
Peacekeeping Intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People