Army Updates Counterinsurgency Doctrine

Three years into the war in Iraq, the U.S. Army has nearly completed a thorough revision and update of its official doctrine on counterinsurgency (pdf).

“It has been 20 years since the U.S. Army published a manual devoted to counterinsurgency operations, and 25 since the Marine Corps published its last such manual. With our Soldiers and Marines fighting insurgents in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it is thus essential that we give them a manual that provides principles and guidelines for counterinsurgency operations (COIN).”

The new doctrine begins with a thoughtful presentation of the nature of insurgency and counterinsurgency, their evolution and their characteristic strategies, and proceeds to consider the design of counterinsurgency operations.

“Traditionally, armies have had to unlearn much of their doctrine and (re)learn the principles of COIN while waging COIN campaigns.”

Counterinsurgency “presents a complex and often unfamiliar set of missions and considerations for a military commander.”

Among the “paradoxes of counterinsurgency” are the fact that “the more you protect your force, the less secure you are”; “the more force [is] used, the less effective it is”; and “sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction.”

The new counterinsurgency doctrine has not been publicly released, but a copy of the final coordination draft was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Counterinsurgency,” U.S. Army Field Manual 3-24 (Final Draft), June 2006 (241 pages, 2.4 MB PDF file).

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