Best Defense

A muddled article about the COIN smackdown between West Point profs

While I was out Elizabeth Bumiller of the New York Times had a piece looking at how two West Point profs, Colonels Gian Gentile and Michael Meese, disagree over the future utility to the U.S. Army of counterinsurgency theory. Gentile says none. (The article is a bit confusing because it conflates belief in the value ...

tazmobile/Flickr
tazmobile/Flickr

While I was out Elizabeth Bumiller of the New York Times had a piece looking at how two West Point profs, Colonels Gian Gentile and Michael Meese, disagree over the future utility to the U.S. Army of counterinsurgency theory. Gentile says none. (The article is a bit confusing because it conflates belief in the value of the Iraq war with support for COIN theory. For example, contrary to what the reporter seems to think, one can easily believe a) we should not have gone to war in Iraq, b) that COIN worked, and c) but that nothing was gained in that war.)

My friend retired Col. Bob Killebrew responded from Belgium, where he was on a Waterlook/Arnhem staff ride, that, "The Germans would have agreed with Gentile: They didn’t see a need for a counterinsurgency doctrine, either. When they were confronted with resistance, they just rounded up hostages and shot them."

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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