Best Defense
Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Colin Gray misfires on COIN

I’m a big fan of Colin Gray’s work, so I picked up his article in the new issue of Prism with great expectation. I was disappointed. This is not his best stuff. Basically he says we need to think about counterinsurgency in the context of strategy. Indeed, he repeats the point this several different ways. ...

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I'm a big fan of Colin Gray's work, so I picked up his article in the new issue of Prism with great expectation.

I’m a big fan of Colin Gray’s work, so I picked up his article in the new issue of Prism with great expectation.

I was disappointed. This is not his best stuff. Basically he says we need to think about counterinsurgency in the context of strategy. Indeed, he repeats the point this several different ways. It doesn’t strike me as an astonishing insight. Nor did I put down the article thinking about counterinsurgency differently. The article is long on assertions and short on specifics, so it feels like a lot of shadowboxing with unidentified players.

I may well be wrong. We all have off days, and it may be mine, not his. Gray’s no slouch, so I am going to put the article aside and re-read it down the road, and see if it feels different. 

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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