The New Counterinsurgency Era
Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars
David H. Ucko
Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine
Narrated by Thomas E. Olejniczak
Approximately 9.5 hours
Book published by Georgetown University Press
Confronting insurgent violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has recognized the need to "re-learn" counterinsurgency. But how has the Department of Defense with its mixed efforts responded to this new strategic environment? Has it learned anything from past failures?
In The New Counterinsurgency Era, David Ucko examines DoD's institutional obstacles and initially slow response to a changing strategic reality. Ucko also suggests how the military can better prepare for the unique challenges of modern warfare, where it is charged with everything from providing security to supporting reconstruction to establishing basic governance—all while stabilizing conquered territory and engaging with local populations. After briefly surveying the history of American counterinsurgency operations, Ucko focuses on measures the military has taken since 2001 to relearn old lessons about counterinsurgency, to improve its ability to conduct stability operations, to change the institutional bias against counterinsurgency, and to account for successes gained from the learning process.
Given the effectiveness of insurgent tactics, the frequency of operations aimed at building local capacity, and the danger of ungoverned spaces acting as havens for hostile groups, the military must acquire new skills to confront irregular threats in future wars. Ucko clearly shows that the opportunity to come to grips with counterinsurgency is matched in magnitude only by the cost of failing to do so.
David H. Ucko is an assistant professor at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA), at the National Defense University in Washington DC, and an adjunct fellow at the Department of War Studies, King's College London.
“In compiling the developments of this latest chapter in the US military's doctrinal history, Ucko provides a useful and timely analysis.”
“This is hot-off-the-press history, an essential look at how the Pentagon has—and has not—changed in response to the Iraq war.”
—Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-08
“This is an important book for anyone interested in the U.S. military's effort to learn from contemporary conflict and adapt to the demands of counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq. Ucko's thorough research and incisive analysis have produced one of the most valuable books on military affairs to appear in recent years.”
—H. R. McMaster, brigadier general, U.S. Army and author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam
“An insightful and objective evaluation of the Pentagon's halting progress towards a true transformation. Facing an insidious global insurgency, today's military is at a crossroads as it adapts from a myopic focus on the kinds of wars it prefers to those that we ignore at our peril. Required reading for serious professionals and students of national security policy.”
—Frank Hoffman, senior fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute
“The U.S. military that invaded Iraq in 2003 was neither designed nor trained for counterinsurgency. Its experience of adapting to these new requirements offers a crucial source of potential insight for students of organizational change, irregular warfare, strategy, and defense policy. David Ucko presents the history of this process of adaptation with skill and analytical acuity.”
—Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy, Council on Foreign Relations
“David Ucko's The New Counterinsurgency Era will make a major contribution to the ongoing debate about such operations and about American military culture. Readers interested in this subject will find this to be an invaluable source and future historians of the Iraq War will no doubt look to it too.”
—Michael P. Noonan, managing director, Program on National Security, Foreign Policy Research Institute and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran