Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The DePuy files (III): Keep U.S. forces out of all counterinsurgency operations

Back in September 1986, Gen. William DePuy wrote that, "U.S. combat forces were not and are not the preferred or proper instrument for counterinsurgency operations amongst the people." (P. 373, Selected Papers of General William E. DePuy) He is right that the U.S. military is not the preferred instrument-if the locals can do it, they ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Back in September 1986, Gen. William DePuy wrote that, "U.S. combat forces were not and are not the preferred or proper instrument for counterinsurgency operations amongst the people." (P. 373, Selected Papers of General William E. DePuy)

He is right that the U.S. military is not the preferred instrument-if the locals can do it, they should. But I can see circumstances where it is for a time the proper instrument, as in Iraq in 2007, when someone had to get the ball rolling. Also, the forces doing it must be well-trained and well-disciplined, and in 1986 that did not describe the Army that DePuy had seen for most of the previous 15 years. 

Back in September 1986, Gen. William DePuy wrote that, "U.S. combat forces were not and are not the preferred or proper instrument for counterinsurgency operations amongst the people." (P. 373, Selected Papers of General William E. DePuy)

He is right that the U.S. military is not the preferred instrument-if the locals can do it, they should. But I can see circumstances where it is for a time the proper instrument, as in Iraq in 2007, when someone had to get the ball rolling. Also, the forces doing it must be well-trained and well-disciplined, and in 1986 that did not describe the Army that DePuy had seen for most of the previous 15 years. 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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