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A Literature Review Wrong Turn America's Counterinsurgency

1463 words - 6 pages

A key term to discuss is counterinsurgency. I found it interesting that prior to the 1950s; COIN theorists from France and Britain used the term counter-revolutionary warfare, whereas due to the context of America’s revolutionary history the U.S. wanted to change the name to counterinsurgency. With the advent of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a unified doctrine needed to be drafted. John Nagl, was one of the authors and stated in an officially this was not an interagency publication but it did bring, “together a mix of serving and retired military officers and a handful of civilian military scholars.” Today the definition has created a strong doctrine as such, “American counterinsurgency, ...view middle of the document...

Malaya
I disagree with Gentile that “hearts and minds” doctrine was not a deciding factor in the Malayan Emergency. By the British using resettlement, policies of relocation of native people for their safety did reduce loss of civilian life and drove the conflict into the jungle. Thus, successfully cutting off supply lines to the insurgents because of removal. This was a novel plan for that era. It is unfortunate the British did not recognize human rights of the Chinese, which lead to political unrest when the MNLA gained support of the Chinese because of oppression when they were denied equal rights to vote, had no land rights, and were poverty-stricken. I found it surprising that Gentile did not credit the British military with being effective with, “use of helicopters and transport aircraft which aided the COIN forces who were skilled in Jungle craft.” This is number six of Sir Robert Thompson’s 12 Key Principles, which is an early version of the doctrine known as “comprehensive approach”. A key defining concept used today with crisis management, “NATO operations show…a comprehensive approach involving political, civilian and military instruments is necessary.”
I especially disagree with Gentile’s assessment that large-unit sweeps was critical to the fighting of counterinsurgency. French theorists Roger Trinquier maintains large-unit sweeps have time limits. Consequently, only temporarily disperse guerrilla bands rather than destroy them.
Perhaps, , Gentile was a little too harsh in his analysis of General Templer stating that there is not primary evidence that bringing in a replacement General had no effect on the outcome. Gentile seemed adamant to criticize leaders rather than going into much detail of all the facts in question to quote Gentile, “The actual continuity of British Army operations in Malaya was buried by the counterinsurgency narrative, which instead portrayed a radical transformation after the arrival of Commanding officer Sir. Gerald Templer.
Vietnam
The Vietnam conflict, which I will call a war, has some sharp contrast different from Malaya. This was a highly political war. President Johnson’s Administration had constraints placed on where our military could intercede. The Communists had elaborate sanctuary bases in Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam, which we could not touch. The Geneva Accords split the country in two located along the 17th parallel. We know the North was under Communists rule and the South under a noncommunist government allied with the United States. The American troops fought two wars on the ground and the other in the air. The Air power was called “Rolling Thunder”. Despite all the ground troops and air firepower, a Superpower wielding conventional warfare was defeated by Maoist Principles of Guerrilla warfare, which is the “Peoples War”. Several key principles are the units start small and grow to form operational military base from the countryside, they militarize rural areas, mobilizes the...

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