The Counterinsurgency in Context

September 20, 2007
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The Army Times recently reviewed two of the press’s most talked about books on the war in Iraq—Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II and The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. While the Counterinsurgency Field Manual was given its own special treatment in a review by Rob Colenso Jr., in the LifeLines section of the September 10 edition of the Army Times, reviewer William H. McMichael touches on the confluence of both books. Acknowledging the Countinsurgency Field Manual‘s new and unconventional approach to counterinsurgency, McMichael points out its emphasis on “gaining the trust of the general populace so insurgents can be rooted out and eliminated.” But, McMichael notes, these kind of tactics might not be so new or unconventional after all:

Well before the 2003 invasion—64 years ago, to be precise—a simple booklet written for soldiers [had already] spelled out how to survive military service in Iraq and, most pertinent to the current war, how to win friends and influence people.…
The Army published Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq During World War II in 1943 as a handy, easy-to-read guide for U. S. troops assigned to bolster the British occupation in Iraq and help keep the Nazis out.
[But] this booklet, so full of helpful advice and so applicable today, was set aside after the war and forgotten.

Now back in print with a new foreword by Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl, Instructions for American Servicemen puts a fascinating historical perspective on the current situation in Iraq and the military’s recent counterinsurgency tactics. Check out both the Counterinsurgency Field Manual along with Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq on our website. Also read an excerpt and Nagl’s foreword from the Counterinsurgency Field Manual.

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