ACCIDENTAL GUERRILLA: FIGHTING SMALL WARS IN THE MIDST OF A BIG ONE


guerilla

By David Kilcullen

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

 

David Kilcullen is one of the world’s most influential experts on counterinsurgency and modern warfare. A Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq, his vision of war dramatically influenced America’s decision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq and implement “the surge.”

 

Now, in The Accidental Guerrilla, Kilcullen provides a remarkably fresh perspective on the War on Terror. Kilcullen takes us “on the ground” to uncover the face of modern warfare, illuminating both the big global war (the “War on Terrorism”) and its relation to the associated “small wars” across the globe: Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Chechnya, Pakistan and North Africa. Kilcullen sees today’s conflicts as a complex pairing of contrasting trends: local social networks and worldwide movements; traditional and postmodern culture; local insurgencies seeking autonomy and a broader pan-Islamic campaign. He warns that America’s actions in the war on terrorism have tended to conflate these trends, blurring the distinction between local and global struggles and thus enormously complicating our challenges. Indeed, the US had done a poor job of applying different tactics to these very different situations, continually misidentifying insurgents with limited aims and legitimate grievances (whom he calls “accidental guerrillas”) as part of a coordinated worldwide terror network. We must learn how to disentangle these strands, develop strategies that deal with global threats, avoid local conflicts where possible, and win them where necessary.

 

Colored with gripping battlefield experiences that range from the jungles and highlands of Southeast Asiato the mountains of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the dusty towns of the Middle East, The Accidental Guerrilla will, quite simply, change the way we think about war. This much anticipated book will be a must read for everyone concerned about the war on terror.

 

The critic of The New York Times - Janine di Giovanni :

Kilcullen draws on his vast experience not only as a dedicated field researcher, but also as a soldier…The Accidental Guerrilla is not an easy book…Even so, [it's] essential…Kilcullen skillfully interprets the future of counterinsurgency, the proper use of military force and what we must learn from our losses and mistakes.

 

Biography :

David Kilcullen is at once part of General David Petraeus’ brain trust in Baghdad, an Australian anthropologist, a Pentagon-based counterinsurgency theorist, and an on-the-ground officer/military advisor who has worked in hotspots ranging from East Africa to the Javanese highlands to the jungles of the Philippines. The “go-to guy” for journalists when it comes to counterinsurgency, he was interviewed for a full-hour on Charlie Rose , was the subject of a full-length profile in the New Yorker written by George Packer, and he’s quoted frequently in The New York Times. David Kilcullen is a senior fellow at the EastWest Institute.

 

PRESS REVIEW :

 

From the Publisher:

David Kilcullen is one of the world’s most influential experts on counterinsurgency and modern warfare. A Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq, his vision of war dramatically influenced America’s decision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq and implement “the surge.”

Now, in The Accidental Guerrilla, Kilcullen provides a remarkably fresh perspective on the War on Terror. Kilcullen takes us “on the ground” to uncover the face of modern warfare, illuminating both the big global war (the “War on Terrorism”) and its relation to the associated “small wars” across the globe: Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Chechnya, Pakistan and North Africa. Kilcullen sees today’s conflicts as a complex pairing of contrasting trends: local social networks and worldwide movements; traditional and postmodern culture; local insurgencies seeking autonomy and a broader pan-Islamic campaign. He warns that America’s actions in the war on terrorism have tended to conflate these trends, blurring the distinction between local and global struggles and thus enormously complicating our challenges. Indeed, the US had done a poor job of applying different tactics to these very different situations, continually misidentifying insurgents with limited aims and legitimate grievances (whom he calls “accidental guerrillas”) as part of a coordinated worldwide terror network. We must learn how to disentangle these strands, develop strategies that deal with global threats, avoid local conflicts where possible, and win them where necessary.

Colored with gripping battlefield experiences that range from the jungles and highlands of Southeast Asiato the mountains of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the dusty towns of the Middle East, The Accidental Guerrilla will, quite simply, change the way we think about war. This much anticipated book will be a must read for everyone concerned about the war on terror.

 

The New York Times - Janine di Giovanni:

Kilcullen draws on his vast experience not only as a dedicated field researcher, but also as a soldier…The Accidental Guerrilla is not an easy book…Even so, [it's] essential…Kilcullen skillfully interprets the future of counterinsurgency, the proper use of military force and what we must learn from our losses and mistakes.

 

Publishers Weekly:

Kilcullen, adviser on counterinsurgency to General Petraeus, defines “accidental guerrillas” as locals fighting primarily because outsiders (often Westerners) are intruding into their physical and cultural space, but they may also be galvanized by high-tech, internationally oriented ideologues. This interaction of two kinds of nonstate opponents renders both traditional counterterrorism and counterinsurgency inadequate. Kilcullen uses Afghanistan and Iraq as primary case studies for a new kind of war that relies on an ability to provoke Western powers into protracted, exhausting, expensive interventions. Kilcullen presents two possible responses. Strategic disruption keeps existing terrorists off balance. Military assistance attacks the conditions producing “accidental guerrillas.” That may mean full-spectrum assistance, involving an entire society. Moving beyond a simplistic “war on terror” depends on rebalancing military and nonmilitary elements of power. It calls for a long view, a measured approach and a need to distinguish among various enemies. It requires limiting the role of government agencies in favor of an indirect approach emphasizing local interests and local relationships. Not least, Kilcullen says, breaking the terrorist cycle requires establishing patterns of “virtue, moral authority, and credibility” in the larger society. Kilcullen’s compelling argument merits wide attention. (Mar.)

 

Table of Contents:

 

Prologue: West Java, December 1996

 

1 The Accidental Guerrilla 1

 

2 “The Crazies Will Kill Them”: Afghanistan, 2006-2008 39

 

3 “The Twenty-First Day”: Iraq during the Surge, 2007 115

 

4 “Terrain, Tribes and Terrorists”: Conflicts from Indonesia to Europe 186

 

5 “Turning an Elephant Into a Mouse”: Beyond the War on Terrorism 263

 

A Note on Sources and Methodology 303

 

Notes 307

 

Index 341

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