The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One

Paperback | April 18, 2011

byDavid Kilcullen

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David Kilcullen is one of the world's most influential experts on counterinsurgency and modern warfare, a ground-breaking theorist whose ideas "are revolutionizing military thinking throughout the west" (Washington Post). Indeed, his vision of modern warfare powerfully influenced America'sdecision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq and implement "the Surge," now recognized as a dramatic success. 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 theglobe: Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Pakistani tribal zones, East Timor and the horn of Africa. Kilcullen sees today's conflicts as a complex interweaving of contrasting trends - local insurgencies seeking autonomy caught up in a broader pan-Islamic campaign - small wars in the midstof a big one. 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 verydifferent 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, avoidlocal conflicts where possible, and win them where necessary.Colored with gripping battlefield experiences that range from the jungles and highlands of Southeast Asia to the mountains of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the dusty towns of the Middle East, The Accidental Guerrilla will, quite simply, changes the way we think about war. This book is a mustread for everyone concerned about the war on terror.

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David Kilcullen is one of the world's most influential experts on counterinsurgency and modern warfare, a ground-breaking theorist whose ideas "are revolutionizing military thinking throughout the west" (Washington Post). Indeed, his vision of modern warfare powerfully influenced America'sdecision to rethink its military strategy in Ir...

David Kilcullen was formerly counterinsurgency advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq and to the NATO Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and currently serves as a consultant to the U.S. government. Kilcullen is also Adjunct Professor of Security Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Fello...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:April 18, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199754098

ISBN - 13:9780199754090

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Customer Reviews of The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Anatomy of an Insurgency This book will change the way you think about war, terrorism, and guerrilla warfare. David Kilcullen, an Australian with extensive experience in many operating theaters around the world strikes at the heart of why these situations arise, he analyzes the followers and not just the leaders. The reason why most analysts and pundits get the "war on terrorism" wrong, is because they don't grasp the fundamental basis of why insurgencies exist. As Kilcullen argues, "insurgency is a mass social phenomenon." In other words, it is a populist social movement formed in response to real or perceived oppressions. The masses who have been manipulated into such movements are what Kilcullen calls, the "accidental guerrilla," people who aren't really hardened terrorists but have joined these social movements because of the lack of alternatives. Kilcullen uses a medical viral analogy to theorize the accidental guerrilla syndrome which I wouldn't personally use, but nevertheless helps to explain why and how insurgencies work. The phases include: Infection; Contagion; Intervention; and Rejection. The core of Kilcullen's approach to counter-insurgency is simple: population-centric. Everything must be done to protect the population, build up governance and security infrastructure, and foster the creation of a civil society. Throughout the book, Kilcullen analyzes a number of case studies including Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, Thailand, and Europe. Kilcullen praises the strategy of the surge in Iraq, especially the cooption of the Sunni Awakening, but is cautiously optimistic for the future by noting that it could go either way in the future. Overall, this is one of the best books on counter-insurgency that I've read in a long time. Kilcullen is clearly an expert with decades of field experience, and his writing is pretty good to boot. Definitely recommended for anyone wanting to learn more about the "war on terrorism."
Date published: 2009-05-18

Extra Content

Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsAuthor's PrefacePrologue - West Java, December 19961. The Accidental Guerrilla2. "The Twenty-First Day" - Iraq during the Surge, 20073. "The Crazies Will Kill Them" - Afghanistan, 2006-20084. "Terrain, Tribes and Terrorists" - conflicts outside Iraq and Afghanistan5. "Turning an Elephant into a Mouse" - beyond the War on TerrorismConclusionNote on SourcesNotes to ChaptersList of Abbreviations used in the textBibliographyIndex