Puncturing the Counterinsurgency Myth: Britain and Irregular Warfare in the Past, Present, and Future
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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Britains numerous counterinsurgency campaigns in the post-World War II era have resulted in a generally accepted academic assessment that this volume of experience equates to competence in the realm of irregular warfare. However, the British response to the complexities of 21st century insurgencies, particularly in their decentralized and globally networked form, has threatened to expose this competency as a colonial-era myth. Quantity of counterinsurgency combat experience has not equated to outright quality. We cannot understand the British process of relearning counterinsurgency since the beginning of the War on Terror unless certain axiomatic elements are first exposed. This monograph sets forth 10 myths of British counterinsurgency performance and learning. First among these is the allegation that the British have always been fast learners. However, the early phases of nearly every campaign in the classical era were marred by stagnancy, mismanagement, and confusion. Indeed, this trend reveals a second painful myth regarding British counterinsurgency conduct namely, the alleged British perceptivity in COIN strategic planning. The preponderance of template solutions, arguably stemming from the over-hyped Malaya blueprint, has contributed to a process of biased selectivity when it comes to imbibing doctrine and disseminating a lesson-learning program. Simply, Mumford concludes on the basis of such myths as the two above that the British scorecard in counterinsurgency campaigns is not as impressive as recent credulous historiography would have us believe.
- Humanities and History
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Unconventional Warfare