Who knows everthing there is to know and more about counterinsurgency and its current role in U.S. military strategy? These guys.
- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pushed and prodded by a wonky group of Ph.D.s, the U.S. military has in the last year decisively embraced a Big Idea: counterinsurgency. Not everyone in uniform is a fan, but David Petraeus and the other generals in charge of America’s wars are solidly behind it. Here are the brains behind counterinsurgency’s rise from forgotten doctrine to the centerpiece of the world’s most powerful military:
1. Gen. David Petraeus
The face of the 2007-08 "surge" in Iraq and now chief of Central Command. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is gonna try the same in Afghanistan, but "King David" rules this roost. ‘Nuff said?
2. John Nagl
Writer on Petraeus’s counterinsurgency manual, now beats the coin drum from the outside as president of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). But it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in a top Pentagon slot within a year or two.
3. David Kilcullen
The Crocodile Dundee of counterinsurgency. Former Australian infantryman with a Ph.D. in anthropology, and one of the most quotable people on the planet. His book The Accidental Guerrilla helped shape the year’s debates; he worked to steer the former Bush administration toward coin from the inside.
4. Janine Davidson
The Pentagon insider in this crowd. Former Air Force pilot now sitting at the adult table in the policy shop of the secretary of defense.
5. Dave Dilegge
Editor of Small Wars Journal. This is the town square of counterinsurgency, avidly read by everyone from four-star generals to captains on the ground in Iraq.
6. Andrew Exum
Abu Muqawama blogger; with Nagl, another colleague of mine at CNAS; and co-author of "Triage," an influential policy paper on Afghanistan. A former Army Ranger who is doing a Ph.D. on Lebanese militias, and in his spare time has been known to play paintball against Hezbollah — no joke.
7. Stephen Biddle
Council on Foreign Relations. A latecomer to the coin debate who has written insightfully about both Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Exum, advised McChrystal on Afghanistan strategy.
8. Andrew Krepinevich
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Penned the classic The Army and Vietnam, about the failure of the Army to apply counterinsurgency in Iraq; wrote an influential Foreign Affairs article on the Iraq war and counterinsurgency.
9. Kalev "Gunner" Sepp
Assistant professor, Naval Postgraduate School. Like Krepinevich, an Army officer who ruined his career by getting a Ph.D. at Harvard. Fought in El Salvador and kept his COIN powder dry for years until someone was ready to listen.
10. Col. Gian Gentile
West Point professor who commanded a unit in Iraq. The skunk at the coin party who constantly points out flaws in the groupthink. Paints with a broad brush, but absolutely necessary to the debate.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |