COIN Manual came in the mail today, and a post on FM 3-24 by Nagl came yesterday

Is it wrong to be excited that the US Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual came in the mail today? It probably is, but I am.

Obviously it’s now shipping. See previous post on FM 3-24 (and thanks to Andrew Sullivan for linking to that post, it really spiked the viewers).

At the Small Wars Journal blog yesterday, they posted John Nagl’s foreword. Why re-write the manual?  

Although there are many reasons why the Army was unprepared for the insurgency in Iraq, among the most important was the lack of current counterinsurgency doctrine when the war began….It is not unfair to say that in 2003 most Army officers knew more about the U.S. Civil War than they did about counterinsurgency.

Consider the “whole of society” involvement of the new manual Nagl describes in detail on the SWJ post, substantially abbreviated below.

To take lead on perhaps the most important driver of intellectual change for the Army and Marine Corps—a complete rewrite of the interim Counterinsurgency Field Manual—Petraeus turned to his West Point classmate Conrad Crane…He took advantage of an Information Operations conference at Fort Leavenworth in December 2005 to pull together the core writing team and outline both the manual as a whole and the principles, imperatives, and paradoxes of counterinsurgency that would frame it….[at a mid-February 2006 conference], which brought together journalists, human rights advocates, academics, and practitioners of counterinsurgency, thoroughly revised the manual and dramatically improved it. Some military officers questioned the utility of the representatives from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) and the media, but they proved to be the most insightful of commentators. James Fallows, of the Atlantic Monthly, commented at the end of the conference that he had never seen such an open transfer of ideas in any institution, and stated that the nation would be better for more such exchanges.

And while we’re on the topic of counterinsurgency readings, see the recent post by the Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) with their 2006 School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) monographs.

Here is a comprehensive list of COIN, irregular warfare unconventional warfare, low intensity conflict, small wars, peacekeeping operations, and urban operations monographs from the SAMS program going back from 2005 to 1985.

5 Replies to “COIN Manual came in the mail today, and a post on FM 3-24 by Nagl came yesterday”

  1. I just got my copy on Wednesday and haven’t bitten into it yet, but my first thought on why it had to be published (again) is because of a pure lack of imagination among those in the military our country pays to consider these things.Please correct me if I’m wrong, but, absent Zinni, I can’t remember a single objection to the invasion and conquest of Iraq based upon a certainty, or even a fear, of resistance after the conquest.

  2. Not to name names (Shinseki), but I don’t want active duty military speaking to the press or in the open with their objections. I buy into the civil-military relations model of the US, which gives two masters. If mil has objections, take it up w/ the other side. As Charlie opens his superb book, Warriors and Politicians, joining the service the English swear to the crown, the German to “defend the law and liberty of the people”, the Japanese “vow to maintain the nation’s independence and peace”, Russians “swear loyalty to the Fatherland”, the French, “after five republics, two empires, numerous monoarchies and several attempted military coups take no oath.” Our forces swear to support and defend the Constitution. And that entails following Constitutional orders.The Founding Fathers were men who distrusted a standing army and any concentration of power. Their vision is reflected in the unique system we have. The military has options and whether they exercised those options in this case will likely only be footnoted in future memoirs.
    I know of many objected, but they didn’t come out and say it for professional reasons. Remember the big deal w/ the “Generals Revolt” (which wasn’t the first of its kind… MacArthur may have had some serious support if he revolted against Truman to name a recent incident, the Bonus Army is another).

  3. Many might have protested within the system. Obviously protests within the system to the other side were and continue be ineffectual. IIRC, Zinni was retired at the time when he made his protests. With no sure knowledge to go on I suspect he protested back channel.Yes, Shinseki was public to an extent, and true he protested over the size of the force alloted. And yes, he broke ‘omerta’ by speaking publicly. Thanks for reminding me of that.
    I expect if we get through these present times and still have a Republic the Army will once again have to reconstitute itself like after Viet Nam. If we are lucky we’ll end up copying the Bundeswehr, where officers get a lot of education about loyalty to the Constitution trumping loyalty to the temporary political leaders.

  4. No, I don’t think so, because the Turkish Army is a social and cultural entity unto itself. In a strange way it’s analogous to the old saw about the Prussian Army in search of a state. As I understand it the Turkish Army maintains its emotional loyalty and cultural identity to the Turkey of 10 or 15 years ago, when the state was officially secular. (As always, please correct any misperceptions.)In the near future (yes, maybe 5 years) our Army will be forced to reinvent itself as it did during the post-Viet Nam era. I’m hoping for a purification as happened during the 80s, before Gulf War 1. That will require removing a lot of political generals, in the sense of general officers more interested in the political winds than in soldiering.
    If this does not happen, then our Army will remain a failed army, the public symbol of a failed state.
    As a progressive/liberal, I welcome a dissociation with the Republican Party, and do not want a transfer of loyalties to Democrats. A professional army must be apolitical by definition.
    Officer training in the Bundeswehr involves very lengthy and technical instruction in the theory and practice of democracy. Officers are trained to not only refuse any command they consider illegal or unethical, but to be alert for anti-democratic statements from their peers. This philosophy is one reason why officers and NCOs from the Volksarmee were spurned after the reunification in 1990.
    Carter makes several good points, the chief I think that “lifers” tend to be far more issue conservatives than political.
    In looking at a putative putsch I think rather than the Army, which will be busy rebuilding itself for a decade, the greater danger is the evangelized Air Force.
    They’re the ones with the “special weapons.”

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