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Better Lucky Than Good: A Theory of Unconventional Minds and the Power of "Who"

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Master's thesis

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The irregular nature of the Long War, coupled with the contemporary experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, are forcing the Department of Defense DoD to reexamine its institutional ability to conduct irregular warfare. A number of scholars have proposed that the American military establishment is culturally and structurally predisposed to conduct regular warfare other experts submit that Americas failures are due to failure to apply counterinsurgency principles tactically and operationally. This thesis offers another perspective to correcting Americas irregular malady and builds on a currently unpublished paper by Professor Anna Simons. It argues that the power of Who is more important than How, or What, when it comes to succeeding in irregular warfare. Simons suggests that succeeding in irregular warfare, especially when operating in foreign cultures, requires something that cannot be taught or trained. The right kind of mind is necessary. This thesis posits that success in an irregular warfare environment requires individuals with an unconventional kind of mind. The thesis presents the stories of two U.S. Army Special Forces team sergeants and their counterinsurgency experiences in Al Anbar province in Iraq. The stories behind their success are examined in depth. It is the intent of the author to get past TTPs and see what the real factors were that led these two men to be so successful. In many cases, they did not conduct COIN in accordance with doctrine or popular convention and, even when they did, they had to adapt the methods they applied to their particular situations. In presenting their stories, the author attempts to illuminate how unconventionally minded these men were and how their unconventional mindset contributed to their success. One section of the thesis discusses the characteristics of other unconventional warriors General George Crook, General John Black Jack Pershing, Carl F. Eifler, and Edward Lansdale.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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