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John A. Nagl on Counterinsurgency

jacket imageLt. Colonel John A. Nagl, author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam and contributor to the recently published U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, was the subject of an article in Tuesday’s Manhattan Mercury discussing the counterinsurgency in Iraq. The article focuses on Nagl’s strategies for winning the conflict, which he claims requires a fundamentally different approach than the “conventional large scale World War II search and destroy tactics” that the U.S. military has traditionally employed. Mark Scott writes for the Mercury:

Instead [the U.S. Army] must focus on building up the government, economy and security forces of the host nation. This is essentially the approach being used by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan with the military transition team plan, which embeds American soldiers with Iraqi and Afghan forces to train them to ultimately take over the defense of their country.
“These are long, hard, slow wars,” Nagl said. “Ultimate success in Iraq very much depends on the political growth and development of the Iraqi government, which is still enormously young and faces some very severe challenges.”

Recently, Nagl has been pushing a proposal for the Army to create a permanent “Army Advisor Corps,” that would embed such “transition teams” full-time with Iraqi national security forces. (His proposal has recently been taken up by U.S. Senator John McCain.) Could Nagl have the key to improving what many believe to be a deteriorating situation in Iraq? To find out more get the rest of the article on the Mercury’s website.
Also see Nagl’s new preface to Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, his foreword to the Counterinsurgency Field Manual, and an excerpt from the Manual, “Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency.”
Last Saturday Nagl was a guest speaker at Chicago’s Pritzker Military Library. Head on over to their website for an audio podcast of his talk.