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Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping [Paperback]

General Sir Frank Kitson K.C.B. C.B.E. M.C.
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

17 Jun 2010

Low Intensity Operations is an important, controversial and prophetic book that has had a major influence on the conduct of modern warfare. First published in 1971, it was the result of an academic year Frank Kitson spent at University College, Oxford, under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence, to write a paper on the way in which the army should be prepared to deal with future insurgency and peacekeeping operations. Its findings and propositions are as striking as when the work was first published.

'To understand the nature of revolutionary warfare, one cannot do better than read Low Intensity Operations... The author has had unrivalled experience of such operations in many parts of the world.' Daily Telegraph

'A highly practical analysis of subversion, insurgency and peacekeeping operations... Frank Kitson's book is not merely timely but important.' The Economist


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Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping + Understanding Counterinsurgency: Doctrine, operations, and challenges (Cass Military Studies)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (17 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571271022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571271023
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 11.4 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

General Sir Frank Kitson GBE, KCB, MC and Bar was commissioned in the army soon after the end of the Second World War. In the course of his service he spent many years with armoured formations in Germany, culminating in command of an armoured division. He also took part in counter-insurgency and peace-keeping activities in Kenya, Malaya, Oman, Cyprus and Northern Ireland and held staff appointments in two of the most influential departments in the Ministry of Defence. He retired in 1985, having spent the final three years of his service as Commander-in-Chief United Kingdom Land Forces. His sometimes controversial writings on military subjects - notably Low Intensity Operations (reissued by Faber Finds in 2010, along with Directing Operations and Bunch of Five) - remain highly relevant and continue to be widely read and to provoke strong opinions. In retirement, he has given evidence to the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland.General Sir Frank Kitson GBE, KCB, MC and Bar was commissioned in the army soon after the end of the Second World War. In the course of his service he spent many years with armoured formations in Germany, culminating in command of an armoured division. He also took part in counter-insurgency and peace-keeping activities in Kenya, Malaya, Oman, Cyprus and Northern Ireland and held staff appointments in two of the most influential departments in the Ministry of Defence. He retired in 1985, having spent the final three years of his service as Commander-in-Chief United Kingdom Land Forces. His sometimes controversial writings on military subjects - notably Low Intensity Operations (reissued by Faber Finds in 2010, along with Directing Operations and Bunch of Five) - remain highly relevant and continue to be widely read and to provoke strong opinions. In retirement, he has given evidence to the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Handbook for counterinsurgency techniques 9 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written by the man who honed Britain's torture campaign and brought it to the United Kingdom. It is densely written, and therefore a little difficult to read, but an important insight into the British military way of thinking.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare Insight 30 July 2009
By Seamus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a rare insight to the thinking behind the British Military Intelligence establishment. Or is it? It is, of course, an act of black ops in and of itself. This work is very familiar to Irish Republicans. It many ways it was written with them in mind. "Over in '75" was a lovely piece of nonsense - that many fell for. A careful reading between the lines is where you will find the meat. This is a must read (and re-read!) classic.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only worth it if you are a Northern Ireland fanatic. 25 Oct 2008
By Jack Stone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
To start, I give any one great credit if they have the will power to actually finish this book. "Low Intensity Operations" was written in such a tedious manner that I could only manage to read a single chapter a day and looked to the next day's reading with dread. Kitson managed to reduce a potentially fascinating subject to something about as appealing as a piece of dry toast. The best use of this book would be to make captured insurgents read it - a truly horrible punishment.

This book is essentially a laundry list of lessons Frank Kitson learned while fighting various insurgencies for the British Crown from the 1950's thru the early 1970's. There is nothing new here. He mentions that unconventional wars may be more common in the future, he describes some common insurgent tactics, and he offers ways that the Army can contribute to a counter-insurgency campaign. While he offers some useful tidbits, hidden in between mountains of painful prose, modern counter-insurgency warfighters will find little here that is either innovative or unique.

I only purchased the book because Kitson is often described as the originator of the operational model the British used to fight the war in Northern Ireland. However, in the book, he predicts that the war in Northern Ireland will be over by 1975! Also, it is clear, Kitson did not even follow his own suggestions from his own book. He alienated the Catholic population in Northern Ireland, arrested people on very imprecise intelligence, and failed to determine the real cause of Catholic discontent.

I have seen this book for sale for over $450...are you kidding me?...it's worth maybe $10.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kitson on COIN 16 May 2012
By Troy A. Lettieri - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Unknown Binding
Kitson on COIN

Frank Kitson, a British officer and veteran of numerous counter-insurgent operations, analyzes the evolution of typical insurgent campaigns in his book "Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping." Connecting with a grievance that resonates with a goodly proportion of the population is central to subversive campaigns. As a result, counterinsurgency measures should address the causes of unrest and thwarting the leadership seeking a revolution that extends beyond a particular grievance. Kitson also highlights the importance of intelligence operations for planning tactical operations as well as the types of units, equipment, and specialized personnel required for effective counterinsurgent operations.
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