Saturday, October 15, 2011

MilPub Book Club: Q4 2011 Selection" "The Accidental Guerrilla" (Kilcullen)


We talked a little earlier about discussing some written work of geopolical or military import. Jim at "Ranger Against War" has volunteered to be our Master of Ceremonies for the first outing and has selected the David Kilcullen work "The Accidental Guerilla".Fareed Zakaria, who for all his wide-ranging geopolitical views seems to know about guerrilla war what a cow knows about the Council of Trent, says of this work: "This book should be required reading for every American soldier, as well as anyone involved in the war on terror. Kilcullen's central concept of the 'accidental guerrilla' is brilliant and the policy prescriptions that flow from it important. And that's not all; the book has many more insights drawn from various battlefields." But nevermind.

Kilcullen was a fairly critical player in the Bush Administration formulation of our current "strategy" - if that is the correct term for the congeries of tactics and politics that the United States is employing in central and southwest Asia - and has had the ear of the "COIN" faction at the Pentagon for some time. Regardless of one's views on his ideas it is difficult to deny that they have been influential.So here's the plan. If you want to participate hit your library, or your Kindle, or bookstore, or whatever (I have a copy reserved at Portland Public Library already) and start reading.

In mid-November jim will post his thoughts here and open the dance.

Sound good?


  1. I actually bought this book years ago, but never read much of it.

  2. Yah, I got a copy as well. Never read it, but it was all the rage when it came out. I'm game, I am sure I can find 10 minutes a day to read. Might try to find the audio book for my hour + daily commute. Love the DC area.

  3. Sorry all, but I'm going to bow out of this particular book. I have to be honest with myself and you all - I cannot get through most short essays and blog posts on counterinsurgency, so the chances that I can muster the fortitude to tackle an entire book is pretty slim. Maybe if someone had my balls in a vice (don't get any ideas!). I'll catch the next one.

  4. Difficult to get excited about this one. I've already been through my COIN phase when I read Galula and did a couple of posts on Gentile and associates.

    I thought we were going to suggest several books and then vote . . .

  5. This
    is a great one. Its division in very separate chapters lends itself well to a discussion.

  6. Jim volunteered to tackle this one - I have no problems with throwing out suggestions and then voting on them, but I'm also a lazy bastard and more than willing to let someone else take the strain if he volunteers. Enlisted man, remember?

    Why not do this; let's use this comment thread to make suggestions for the NEXT Book Club item for Q1 2012.

    Sven, the url you gave me doesn't lead to the Amazon page, but I'm guessing that you're linking to Bob Leonard's "Principles of War in the Information Age"? Good work, I'd definitely be interested.

    I'm going to make my suggestion, then, as well:

    It's a monograph from the NAF by Lalwani & Shifrinson (2011) titled "Whither Control of the Commons; Choosing Security over Control". I thought it raised some worthwhile points plus has the advantage of being accessible to all of us as a .pdf file.

    So let's go - let's hear your's, seydlitz, and everybody else's and get going on our reading for the new year...

  7. OK, you guys go for this one. I'll sit this one out, since like Andy, I'm coined out.

    My selection? On strategy, there's a nice new one out by John Stone titled "Military Strategy" which I'm reading at the moment, and will have finished soon, so by my own rules can't suggest that one.

    So, the one I'd suggest is Jack Beeching's "The Chinese Opium Wars" which I have it on my stack to read, but have not got around to yet. Printed in 1975 is seems the best history (in terms of balance to date) and should be available in most libraries, in paperback and of course used . . .

  8. The Lalwani & Shifrinson might be a good "pre-season game" to get us into some kind of a framework and pattern, while confining it to an initially short selection available to everyone.

    I have access to the Leonard book via my B&N NOOK, so that's workable.

  9. Count me in. I am fine with Kilcullen's book. Just got a copy from the library. Looking at the first few pages it seems to me it is NOT entirely a book about how to do COIN. Rather more like 'how-to-not-piss-off-the-locals-and-end-up-stuck-doing-COIN'.

    For a future read I am fine with all the suggestions given so far, especially the one on the opium wars. Svenn's choice of Leonard's book strikes me as extremely interesting also. Although I note from the cover shown on Amazon that the foreword was written by MajGen Scales of Fox News fame and who was also a counselor to Rumsfeld. But I would vote for this one anyway, the subject matter is worth a look and a critique.

    Sometime next year I was thinking of proposing "How Wars End" by Gideon Rose. The author is editor of 'Foreign Affairs'.

  10. Mike, the Rose Book would be good, as well as a similar book by Col Matthew Moten (USMA faculty)

    "Between War and Peace: How America Ends Its Wars"

  11. "Fareed Zakaria, who for all his wide-ranging geopolitical views seems to know about guerrilla war what a cow knows about the Council of Trent, "

    Remember that for every guy who knows enough to pour p*ss out of their boots, there's at least 10 whose job it is to drink it, and say 'that's great, boss!'.

    Fareed served as a propagandist for the Iraq War. Perhaps he's learned, but that isn't likely.

  12. I've read the Rose book. Worth reading . . .

  13. If we're thinking about the Opium Wars, I'll suggest an alternative for the history buffs: Trask's "The War With Spain in 1898" -

    I've always been interested in this, our first open foray into imperial/colonial war. Trask is supposed to do a good job on it...

  14. And I'd say that the Rose and Moten works cover much the same ground, so if we're interested we should choose one of the other.

    I've skimmed Rose and was impressed by his scholarship, not so much by his conclusions ("Plan ahead" is pretty common-sensical until you realize that nobody yet has had the genius to foresee the complications arising from the conclusion of war...). But eithe one would be worth a bit more consideration...

  15. Have read Trask as well, but would be of course willing to participate . . .

  16. Barry: "Fareed served as a propagandist for the Iraq War. Perhaps he's learned, but that isn't likely."

    Why should he learn? He's well-paid to stay eloquent and ignorant.

  17. chief,
    maybe u should keep this entry posted until 15 nov.