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Monday, December 18, 2006

New Pentagon Counterinsurgency Manual Released

By Andrew Cochran

The Pentagon has released a new counterinsurgency manual, jointly produced by the Army and Marine Corps. As the Foreward notes, "It has been 20 years since the Army published a field manual devoted exclusively to counterinsurgency operations. For the Marine Corps it has been 25 years. With our Soldiers and Marines fighting insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is essential that we give them a manual that provides principles and guidelines for counterinsurgency operations. Such guidance must be grounded in historical studies. However, it also must be informed by contemporary experiences." Experience, indeed. Steven Aftergood's "Secrecy News" blog of the Federation of American Scientists has the entire manual, and I will save it in the CT Library on this site.

The prinicpal editor of the manual, Dr. Conrad Crane of the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, forged his high reputation in the field with two studies which predicted the extreme difficulties now faced by U.S. forces in Iraq. The first, "Reconstructing Iraq," was released almost 4 years ago, before we had even entered the country. Unfortunately, top U.S. officials in Iraq didn't pay attention to his predictions. You can download that study here from the SSI site. Dr. Crane followed up with "Precedents, Variables, and Options in Planning a U.S. Military Disengagement Strategy from Iraq" in October 2005, which recommended against a fixed timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops, "unless Iraq’s government fails and the situation becomes hopeless" (download here).

The Foreword to the new manual notes, "Soldiers and Marines are expected to be nation builders as well as warriors. They must be prepared to help reestablish institutions and local security forces and assist in rebuilding infrastructure and basic services. They must be able to facilitate establishing local governance and the rule of law. The list of such tasks is long; performing them involves extensive coordination and cooperation with many intergovernmental, host-nation, and international agencies." That's a tall order which the Pentagon did not officially recognize prior to entering Iraq, so this manual is a step forward, however belated, in the formation of counterinsugency doctrine in facing future threats.

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