Bad Strategies: How Major Powers Fail in Counterinsurgency by James S. Corum PhD, Dennis Showalter

By James S. Corum PhD, Dennis Showalter

It is the hot method of war:  all over our army attempts to make inroads, insurgents flout us--and appear to get the higher of the strategists making coverage and conflict plans.  during this e-book, a professional with either scholarly and armed forces adventure within the box appears to be like at situations of counterinsurgency long gone wrong.  through studying the mess ups of ideas opposed to insurgents in Algeria, Cyprus,  Vietnam, and Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel James S. Corum bargains infrequent and much-needed perception into what can get it wrong in such situations--and how those blunders can be avoided.  In every one case, Corum indicates how the clash might have been gained by way of the key strength if its technique had addressed the underlying explanations of the insurgency it confronted; no longer doing so wastes lives and weakens the power’s place within the world.


Failures in counterinsurgency frequently continue from universal mistakes.  undesirable concepts explores those at strategic, operational and tactical levels.  particularly, Corum identifies terrible civilian and army management because the fundamental reason for failure in effectively battling insurgencies.  His ebook, with transparent and sensible prescriptions for achievement, indicates how the teachings of the previous may perhaps follow to our current disastrous confrontations with insurgents in Iraq.

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Additional info for Bad Strategies: How Major Powers Fail in Counterinsurgency

Sample text

From that question one reasons backwards to figure out how to get there, and what kind of problems might be encountered, what resources will be necessary, and so on. ” Absolute victory, à la the surrender on the deck of the Battleship Missouri, is a very rare thing in warfare. When fighting insurgents, governments would like to see the insurgency collapse completely and surrender unconditionally. That is extremely unlikely. In fighting insurgents, most realistic endstates require the government to negotiate a political settlement that makes some concessions to the insurgents.

Regarding Iraq, it appears reasonable to suggest that for the United States, deposing Saddam Hussein was seen as both a means and an end in itself. The insurgents had no common endstate, at least not one strong enough to generate a common front. That, in turn, rendered them potentially susceptible not exactly to “divide and conquer,” but to “divide and convince”—to seek, essentially, a brokered solution balancing mutual dissatisfaction. The jury is still out on the result. Corum’s major specific recommendations to counterinsurgents reinforce the importance of compromise: maintaining a favorable international profile, training local security forces, maintaining public support at home.

There have been cases—Algeria is one—in which the counterinsurgent nation got the military part of the strategy right but then failed to get the other parts of the strategy right. The result was the failure of the whole strategy. One lesson is very consistent; the counterinsurgent nation has to get the civilian and political side of the effort correct, as well as the military side. This means that the government must be able to employ all of its agencies and assets in a coordinated manner. It is not an easy task—but it is also not impossible if the counterinsurgent nation has good leadership directing the effort.

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