The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One

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9781849040259: The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One

War today is far different from what we expected it to be. Counter-insurgency and protracted guerrilla warfare, not shock and awe, are the order of the day. The Australian David Kilcullen is the world's foremost expert on this way of war, and in "The Accidental Guerrilla", the Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to the Pentagon and architect of 'the Surge', surveys war as it is actually fought in the contemporary world. Colouring his account with gripping battlefield experiences that range from the highlands of Southeast Asia to the mountains of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the dusty towns of the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, "The Accidental Guerrilla" will, quite simply, change the way we think about war. While conventional warfare has obvious limits, Kilcullen stresses that neither counterterrorism nor traditional counterinsurgency is the appropriate framework to fight the enemy we now face. Traditional counterinsurgency is more effective than counterterrorism when it comes to entities like AlQaeda, but, as Kilcullen contends, our current focus is far too narrow, for it tends to emphasize one geographical region and one state. The current war presents a much different situation: stateless insurgents and terrorists operating across large number of countries and only loosely affiliated with each other. Just as importantly, Western armies have done a poor job of applying different tactics to different situations, continually misidentifying insurgents with limited aims and legitimate grievances as part of a coordinated worldwide network. Given the incremental-yet remarkable-success of Kilcullen's strategy in Iraq, what Kilcullen has to say will be widely anticipated. His vision of war has changed Western policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and this eagerly awaited comprehensive account will help shape policy for years to come.

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About the Author:

David Kilcullen is one of the world's leading experts on guerrilla warfare and, rarely among his kind, has a PhD in political anthropology. He has served in every theatre of the 'War on Terror' since 9/11 as Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq, and chief counterterrorism strategist for the US State Department. He is a former Australian Army officer with combat experience in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.


'This book should be required reading for every American soldier, as well as anyone involved in the war on terror. Kilcullen's central concept of the 'accidental guerrilla' is brilliant and the policy prescriptions that flow from it important. And that's not all; the book has many more insights drawn from various battlefields.' - Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek 'For a wider perspective on the lessons drawn over the past seven years of the war on terrorA", the reader can do no better than turn to Dr Kilcullen's excellent book. The Accidental Guerrilla has an anthropologist's sense of social dynamics and a reporter's eye for telling detail. If T.E. Lawrence evoked the means of waging irregular warfare in his 1926 classic, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Dr Kilcullen describes the practitioner's art of combating insurgents.' - The Economist 'Kilcullen's The Accidental Guerrilla is a perceptive, argumentative handbook on how to fix a problem. [...] His argument is that while there is a global enemyA", it amounts to only 2 per cent to 5 per cent of the people we've been fighting since 9/11A". Many of the others are Accidental TerroristsA", provoked into retaliation by intrusion into their territory or disputes. [...] His strength is in knowledge of the different enemies and their motivation, and it is his case that without understanding those subtleties, the battle is lost.' - The Times 'Kilcullen's influence on how the U.S. military thought about counterinsurgency campaigning cannot be overstated.' - Tom Ricks, author of The Gamble 'There are some standard texts on [counterinsurgency]. The Accidental Guerrilla is sure to become one.' - The Wall Street Journal 'This book is essential... Kilcullen skilfully interprets the future of counterinsurgency, the proper use of military force and what we must learn from our losses and mistakes. After reading The Accidental Guerrilla, one is left to wonder why the Pentagon did not listen to his sage advice back in 2003.' - New York Times Book Review

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