The paradoxes of generals

June 23, 2010
By

jacket imageIt is being reported that President Obama has dismissed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and named Gen. David H. Petraeus—McChrystal’s boss—as the new commander of American forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal was dismissed for insubordinate remarks he made in a recent Rolling Stone story.
The Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency Operations hold that “Many important decisions are not made by generals.” But sometimes they are, and deciding to give an interview to Rolling Stone has turned out to be a fateful decision.
The Paradoxes further hold that “Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction.” But as President Obama has found, sometimes doing nothing is just not an option. However the president might also want to consider that “Sometimes, the more force is used, the less effective it is.”
General Petraeus steps into an increasingly difficult situation in Afghanistan. He was the prime mover behind the change in battlefield strategy in Iraq, as well as The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, which we reprinted in book form in 2007. The general will want to keep a copy close at hand.
Counterinsurgency expert Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl contributed a foreword to our edition in which discusses Petraeus’ role in formulating counterinsurgency strategy both on the ground and in print. Also read all of the Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency Operations.

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