Wrong Turn

Wrong Turn

America's Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency

Book - 2013
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"Colonel Gian Gentile's 2008 article "Misreading the Surge" in World Politics Review first exposed a growing rift among military intellectuals that has since been playing out in strategy sessions at the Pentagon, in classrooms at military academies, and on the pages of the New York Times. While the past years of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan have been dominated by the doctrine of counterinsurgency (COIN), Gentile and a small group of dissident officers and defense analysts have questioned the necessity and efficacy of COIN--essentially armed nation-building--in achieving the United States' limited core policy objective in Afghanistan: the destruction of Al Qaeda. Drawing both on the author's experiences as a combat battalion commander in the Iraq War and his research into the application of counterinsurgency in a variety of historical contexts, Wrong Turn is a brilliant summation of Gentile's views of the failures of COIN, as well as a searing reevaluation of the current state of affairs in Afghanistan. As the issue of America's withdrawal from Afghanistan inevitably rises to the top of the national agenda, Wrong Turn will be a major new touchstone for what went wrong and a vital new guide to the way forward. Note: the ideas in this book are the author's alone, not the Department of Defense's."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : The New Press, c2013.
ISBN: 9781595588746
Branch Call Number: 355.0218 GEN
Characteristics: xviii, 189 p. ; 22 cm.


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Apr 23, 2014

The dogmatism of American counterinsurgency has obscured from view the reality of American war, which has primarily been one of imptovisation and practicality.

Apr 23, 2014

Modern counterinsurgency is age-old anti guerrilla warfare in new clothes.


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Dec 31, 2017

Col. Gentile’s thesis is there is no such thing as “counter-insurgency” as a separate kind of warfare. In addition, the American mass media perpetuate a myth that the army was losing under old leadership with old ideas, but that a bold new leader brought innovative thinking that re-directed the efforts into productive and meaningful modes. Col. Gentile maintains that (1) counter-insurgency is just the continued meeting of enemy forces; (2) American military actions were always generally successful with notable losses, failures, and errors (as is the nature of war), but no “outside the box” innovative tactics ever were called upon; (3) historically, since Alexander the Great (at least), every army has had to deal with civilian resistance, whether farmers with pruning hooks or doctors repurposing artillery ammunition into bombs under the roadway.

Col. Gentile examines the classic cases of the British in Malaya, the French in Algeria, and the Americans in Viet Nam. In every case, he shows that success came from continuing the offensive according to the same logic, passed from commander to commander through each rotation. The American failure in Viet Nam was essentially sociological:
“But unless the United States was willing to stay in Vietnam for generations to do armed nation building, the collapse of South Vietnam was inevitable. In the end, firepower could not break the will of the North Vietnamese, the NLF, or the PLAF; nor could it correct the endemic problems of corruption within the South Vietnamese government and military. Moreover, it could not connect in a moral way the people of South Vietnam to the government and military. The United States and South Vietnam lost the war on all fronts.” (page 83)

The book itself is short, 144 pages, but it is supported with 270 footnotes. Col. Gentile has done his homework. It remains that he knew the point he wanted to make; and among the libraries and archives, he found the facts he needed.


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