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

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

by David Kilcullen
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David Kilcullen is one of the world's most influential experts on counterinsurgency and modern warfare, a ground-breaking theorist whose ideas "are revolutionizing military thinking throughout the west" (Washington Post). Indeed, his vision of modern warfare powerfully influenced America's decision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq and implement "the Surge," now recognized as a dramatic success.
In The Accidental Guerrilla, Kilcullen provides a remarkably fresh perspective on the War on Terror. Kilcullen takes us "on the ground" to uncover the face of modern warfare, illuminating both the big global war (the "War on Terrorism") and its relation to the associated "small wars" across the globe: Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Pakistani tribal zones, East Timor and the horn of Africa. Kilcullen sees today's conflicts as a complex interweaving of contrasting trends—local insurgencies seeking autonomy caught up in a broader pan-Islamic campaign—small wars in the midst of a big one. He warns that America's actions in the war on terrorism have tended to conflate these trends, blurring the distinction between local and global struggles and thus enormously complicating our challenges. Indeed, the US had done a poor job of applying different tactics to these very different situations, continually misidentifying insurgents with limited aims and legitimate grievances—whom he calls "accidental guerrillas"—as part of a coordinated worldwide terror network. We must learn how to disentangle these strands, develop strategies that deal with global threats, avoid local conflicts where possible, and win them where necessary.
Colored with gripping battlefield experiences that range from the jungles and highlands of Southeast Asia to the mountains of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the dusty towns of the Middle East, The Accidental Guerrilla will, quite simply, change the way we think about war. This book is a must read for everyone concerned about the war on terror.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195368345
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 03/16/2009
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

David Kilcullen was formerly counterinsurgency advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq and to the NATO Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and currently serves as a consultant to the U.S. government. Kilcullen is also Adjunct Professor of Security Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Table of Contents

Author's Preface
Prologue - West Java, December 1996
Chapter 1 - The Accidental Guerrilla
Chapter 2 - "The Twenty-First Day" - Iraq during the Surge, 2007
Chapter 3 - "The Crazies Will Kill Them" - Afghanistan, 2006-2008
Chapter 4 - "Terrain, Tribes and Terrorists" - conflicts outside Iraq and Afghanistan
Chapter 5 - "Turning an Elephant into a Mouse" - beyond the War on Terrorism
Note on Sources
Notes to Chapters
List of Abbreviations used in the text

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Accidental Guerrilla 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kilcullen's work is a wealth of knowledge for the armchair counterinsurgent and provides valuable insight into the mind of victimized groups of people exploited by war, not of their choosing. He diplomatically states, where, he believes the Bush administration strayed in its choices that initiated the conflict in Iraq offers a worthwhile analysis and solution for correcting the strategic errors made in the onslaught of war. It is a fascinating and highly complex excerpt from a proven expert in small wars. Highly recommended reading for any individual participating in the United States' excursions Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan.
RHA212 More than 1 year ago
For those who seek to understand the current conflicts and the way wars are waged today, this book will be an eye-opener
bruchu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Anatomy of an InsurgencyThis book will change the way you think about war, terrorism, and guerrilla warfare. David Kilcullen, an Australian with extensive experience in many operating theaters around the world strikes at the heart of why these situations arise, he analyzes the followers and not just the leaders.The reason why most analysts and pundits get the "war on terrorism" wrong, is because they don't grasp the fundamental basis of why insurgencies exist. As Kilcullen argues, "insurgency is a mass social phenomenon." In other words, it is a populist social movement formed in response to real or perceived oppressions. The masses who have been manipulated into such movements are what Kilcullen calls, the "accidental guerrilla," people who aren't really hardened terrorists but have joined these social movements because of the lack of alternatives.Kilcullen uses a medical viral analogy to theorize the accidental guerrilla syndrome which I wouldn't personally use, but nevertheless helps to explain why and how insurgencies work. The phases include: Infection; Contagion; Intervention; and Rejection.The core of Kilcullen's approach to counter-insurgency is simple: population-centric. Everything must be done to protect the population, build up governance and security infrastructure, and foster the creation of a civil society.Throughout the book, Kilcullen analyzes a number of case studies including Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, Thailand, and Europe. Kilcullen praises the strategy of the surge in Iraq, especially the cooption of the Sunni Awakening, but is cautiously optimistic for the future by noting that it could go either way in the future.Overall, this is one of the best books on counter-insurgency that I've read in a long time. Kilcullen is clearly an expert with decades of field experience, and his writing is pretty good to boot. Definitely recommended for anyone wanting to learn more about the "war on terrorism."
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TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
Faced with unsuccessful military interventions in several conflicts, some of our own making, the U.S. military leadership seconded Lt. Col. David Kilcullen of the Australian Army to work with them on devising a and testing a new strategy that might allow them to withdraw from their engagements without complete failure. Kilcullen is a military officer, but also an anthropologist. This book is his attempt to explain his thinking on the worldwide Islamic insurgency and the best methods to try and counter it successfully. Kilcullen thought the U.S. intervention in Iraq was an extremely serious strategic error, but tried, as assistant to General Petraeus in 2007, to devise a method to stabilize the population, reduce violence, and establish governance so that U.S. troops could effectively withdraw and leave Iraq to the Iraqis. Kilcullen thinks globalization and anti-globilization, and overwhelming U.S. military dominance are drivers to conflict in the 21st century-that citizens of countries around the world become involved in conflicts not of their making when warring groups enter their "space." They choose the least foreign "side" and fight for their group. In this book, Kilcullen first introduces successful attempts to reduce violence and increase local participation in governance and stabilization in Afghanistan, then sheds light on the conflicts in Iraq, and then discusses East Timor, where he earned his credentials as part of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the 1999. He then discusses Thailand, Europe and Pakistan. Trying to understand an ongoing conflict is extraordinarily difficult, but Kilcullen draws on his experience, research, and natural bent to establish a framework he insists can, will, and is working in various conflict theatres around the world.
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