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Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare (Columbia Studies in Terrorism and Irregular Warfare) Hardcover – 22 Oct 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (22 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231164262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231164269
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,084,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

A balanced and clear-sighted evaluation of the problems that affected British Army Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.--M.L.R. Smith, Kings College London

Impeccably researched and elegantly written, "Counterinsurgency in Crisis "is important because what the United Kingdom and its allies learn from experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq is likely to be as important as the outcomes of those wars. Indeed, if we are to prepare well for future conflict, Ucko and Egnell warn, we must not let false interpretations dominate historical memory. "Counterinsurgency in Crisis" is at once a work of military history, intellectual history, and historiography. It is highly recommended for students, academics, diplomats, and military leaders.--H.R. McMaster, Author, "Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam"

In this critical and important study, Ucko and Egnell challenge the British Army's record at counterinsurgency. They demonstrate the need for a more careful reading of history and for a clear-eyed assessment of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. An essential read for those seeking to learn lessons from Britain's recent small wars.--Professor Theo Farrell, Head of the Department of War Studies. King's College London

Impeccably researched and elegantly written, " Counterinsurgency in Crisis" is important because what the United Kingdom and its allies learn from experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq is likely to be as important as the outcomes of those wars. Indeed, if we are to prepare well for future conflict, the authors warn, we must not let false interpretations dominate historical memory. "Counterinsurgency in Crisis" is at once a work of military history, intellectual history, and historiography. It is highly recommended for students, academics, diplomats, and military leaders.--H. R. McMaster, author of " Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam"

In this critical and important study, David H. Ucko and Robert Egnell challenge the British Army's record of counterinsurgency. They demonstrate the need for a more careful reading of history and for a clear-eyed assessment of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Essential for those seeking to learn lessons from Britain's recent small wars.--Theo Farrell, head of the Department of War Studies, King's College, London

This excellent book reveals Britain's strategic, operational, and tactical missteps in Iraq and Afghanistan. It charts the failure to institutionalize lessons from our counterinsurgency past and, worse still, how false complacency stifled adaptation mid-campaign. This valuable book is recommended to anyone who cares for the future of the British armed forces or the United Kingdom's place in world.--Colonel Richard Iron (British Army, retired)

Critical yet balanced, this book provides the best overall assessment of the British campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan currently in print.--Theo Farrell, King's College London"RUSI Journal" (01/01/0001)

A sobering indictment of the British performance in Iraq and Afghanistan, providing shrewd analysis--the best yet--of what went wrong and why, and the lessons that must be learned. Essential reading for policymakers, strategists, and practitioners, both military and civilian.--Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely (British Army, retired)

About the Author

David H. Ucko is associate professor at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University, and an adjunct fellow at the Department of War Studies, King's College London. His research areas include civil war, counterinsurgency, and war-to-peace transitions. He is the author of The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars and coeditor of Reintegrating Armed Groups After Conflict. Robert Egnell is visiting associate professor and Director of Teaching in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University. His research focuses on the conduct and effectiveness of different forms of stability operations and statebuilding. He is the author of Complex Peace Operations and Civil-Military Relations: Winning the Peace and coeditor of New Agendas in Statebuilding: Hybridity, Contingency, and History. Colin Gray is professor of international politics and strategic studies at the University of Reading, England, and an external researcher at the Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College.


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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I completed two tours with the UK military in Afghanistan and remain a frequent visitor to the Country. All the criticisms of the British approach to counter insurgency in this book chime with my experience and I would heartily recommend it to both military and foreign policy professionals. Whilst it does highlight failure at the operational level, it lets the senior leadership off lightly by blaming the middle ranking officers for failing to support their superiors' attempts to change direction - in my experience this is rarely the case and more likely a result of contradictory directions by the senior leadership (a failure to identify and resource the main effort - did none of them read Commander ISAF's 2006 intent prioritising the Afghan National Security Forces?)

At 200 pages it is a relatively compact analysis and there is much more to be written about both the Iraq and Afghan campaigns, particularly on strategic planning across Whitehall. However, hopefully it's brevity will ensure a wide readership among my late colleagues.
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Simply the best book on the British campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq - which is NOT at a "boots on the ground" perspective. Well written, with copious footnotes and succinct in its criticism. Indeed sometimes the authors appear to drawback.

Two short passages give you a flavour: The case of Afghanistan thereby points to the significant problems inthe British way of preparing for and prosecuting modern wars: the failure to properly formulate and resource strategy; the failure of civil-military coordination at both the strategic and oerational levels; the limitations of military improvisation and of 'muddling through' in the absence of a plan; and the dangers of letting strategic intent and operational approach develop independently (pg. 108)

...there is no fig leaf large enough here to cover the deep flaws in the British government's own approach and conduct in these counterinsurgency campaigns (Pg. 147).

One wonders if the Chilcot Enquiry read this, it certainly would have helped. Worth reading alongside Douglas Porch's book, which has a broader perspective and is even more critical.
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