A - B

Ahern, Thomas L., Jr. Vietnam Declassified: The CIA and Counterinsurgency. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2009.

For Cohen, Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2009, this work by a former CIA operations officer is "balanced and well-researched." The author "describes the agency's role in Vietnam. But, like so much history of that war, it barely deals with the Vietnamese; it's all about us. And herein lies the greatest weakness of the COIN literature: It often lacks deep knowledge of the other side."

Goulden, Washington Times, 29 Jan. 2010, notes that Ahern "details the myriad programs aimed at winning the proverbial 'hearts and minds' of the Vietnamese masses. A diligent reader must be excused for feeling at times that he is swimming in a swirling vat of alphabet soup as Mr. Ahern ticks through the various programs and offices." RHT, Parameters 40.1 (Spring 2010), says that "[t]his account of the CIA's role in pacification programs in Vietnam should be required reading for officers and agency representatives participating in counterinsurgency operations."

To Peake, Studies 53.4 (Dec. 2009) and CIRA Newsletter 35.1 (Spring 2010), "Vietnam Declassified is narrowly focused on operations related to 'the struggle to suppress the Viet Cong and win the loyalty of the peasantry.' ... The story is told from perspective of the CIA officers involved...[,] the insurgents they battled, and the peasants they labored to enpower.... The story is not one of unremitting failure, however. The success of the People's Action Teams (PATs) ... is an example of what could be achieved." In his final chapter, the author "discusses what he believes to have been the fatally flawed assumptions of the war in Southeast Asia."

Anderson, Edward G. "A Dynamic Model of Counterinsurgency Policy Including the Effects of Intelligence, Public Security, Popular Support, and Insurgent Experience." System Dynamics Review 27, no. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 2011): 111-141.

From Abstract: "A system dynamics model of insurgencies is built using the U.S. Army and Marine Counterinsurgency Manual (FM 3-24) as a basis. It must, however, be supplemented by additional theory from outside sources to enable calibration to a historical dataset."

Arnold, James R. Jungle of Snakes: A Century of Counterinsurgency Warfare From the Philippines to Iraq. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.

Cohen, Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2009, says that this book "is useful to learn the fundamentals, competently summarizing past counterinsurgency campaigns in the Philippines, Algeria, Malaya and Vietnam, but offering few striking insights. Read it if you want to learn the basics of the American CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support) program in Vietnam, for example, or learn who tortured whom in the Battle of Algiers."

Arquilla, John. Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World. Lanham, MD: Ivan R. Dee, 2011.

According to Black, NWCR, Spring 2012, the author focuses "more on irregular warriors than on irregular wars. Like the figures he portrays, Arquilla attacks the conventional-war methods and heroes of military history. He laments continuing overreliance on traditional methods and classical theorists, given the evidence that the world is now far from conventional." The themes in this "useful book" are presented in "plain, clear writing."

Asprey, Robert B. War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History. 2 vols. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975. Revised and updated. 1 vol. Fairfield, NJ: William Morrow, 1994.

Petersen sees War in the Shadows as a "masterful account of irregular warfare from ancient times to Vietnam." Commenting on the 1994 edition, Surveillant 3.6 says this is a "must have, benchmark work, now updated and expanded to include guerrilla activity since the original publication." The book includes a "comprehensive and hard-hitting strategic evaluation of the Vietnam War."

For Bradford, Air & Space Power Journal (2008), the revised version remains "the most definitive study of guerrilla warfare available." Asprey "brilliantly imparts lessons of guerrilla warfare, its causes and effects, and victories and defeats. His reminders to the military about going off to an unconventional war half-cocked contain some of the most valuable military thinking of our time. War in the Shadows is ... a usable doctrinal text of events that, while historically embedded, continue to speak to the contemporary experience of unconventional warfare."

Barber, Willard F., and C. Neale Ronning. Internal Security and Military Power: Counterinsurgency and Civic Action in Latin America. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University, 1966.

Barnet, Richard J. Intervention and Revolution: America's Confrontation with Insurgent Movements Around the World. Cleveland, OH: World, 1968.

Petersen: "Critical of CIA and U.S. policy."

Beckett, Ian F.W.

1. Modern Insurgencies and Counter-Insurgencies: Guerrillas and Their Opponents Since 1750. London: Routledge, 2001.

According to Berger, et al, I&NS 22.6 (Dec. 2007), the author "provides a long-term historical overview of insurgencies and counterinsurgencies." Beckett stresses "the historical and contemporary habit of Great Powers to take a relative lack of interest in counterinsurgency."

2. The Roots of Counter-Insurgency: Armies and Guerrilla Warfare, 1900-1945. London: Blandford, 1988.

3. And John Pumlot. Armed Forces and Modern Counter-Insurgency. New York: St. Martin's, 1985.

Bell, J. Bowyer. The Myth of the Guerrilla: Revolutionary Theory and Malpractice. New York: Knopf, 1971.

Berger, Mark T., and Douglas A. Borer. "The Long War: Insurgency, Counterinsurgency and Collapsing States." Third World Quarterly 28, no. 2 (2007): 197-215.

Bevilacqua, A.C. "Intelligence and Insurgency." Marine Corps Gazette 60 (Jan. 1976): 40-46. [Petersen]

Birtle, Andrew J. U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1942-1976. Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 2006.

Cassidy, Parameters 37.4 (Winter 2007-08), comments that this is a "gem of a book." It has "eight full chapters on the development, propagation, and implementation of counterinsurgency and contingency operations doctrine." In his conclusion, the author assesses "the impact and value of the entire corpus of Vietnam-era counterinsurgency doctrine vis-à-vis the lack of military success in Vietnam."

For Crane, Army History 66 (Winter 2008), "[t]his book features fine writing, extensive research, a provocative thesis, and a terrible title.... Birtle gives the reader far more than a dry exposition on Army doctrine. This is really the story of how the United States tried to prevent the spread of Communism with a combination of military deployments and social engineering."

Blaufarb, Douglas S.

1. The Counterinsurgency Era: U.S. Doctrine and Performance, 1950 to the Present. New York: Free Press, 1977.

2. And George K. Tanham. Who Will Win? A Key to the Puzzle of Revolutionary War. Bristol, PA: Crane Russak, 1989.

Boot, Max.

1. Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present. New York: Liveright, 2013.

Freedman, FA 92.1 (Jan.-Feb. 2013), finds the author's coverage "remarkably comprehensive"; and he "sustains the reader's interest with lively writing and sharp characterizations." See also, Boot's "The Evolution of Irregular War: Insurgents and Guerrillas From Akkadia to Afghanistan," Foreign Affairs 92, no. 2 (Mar.-Apr. 2013), which is adapted from this work.

2. The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

Berger, et al, I&NS 22.6 (Dec. 2007), note that this work is "devoid of conceptual innovations" but deals with its time span in an "engaging and incisive fashion."

3. War Made New: Technology, Warfare and the Course of History, 1500 to Today. New York: Gotham, 2007.

For Berger, et al, I&NS 22.6 (Dec. 2007), this work is "highly readable, but also a highly schematic treatment of the dramatic changes in the character of warfare over five centuries." The book "is engaging and well written," but "does little to contextualize the changes" cataloged from 1500 to the present.

Brown, Jason M. [MAJ/USAF] "To Bomb or Not to Bomb? Counterinsurgency, Airpower, and Dynamic Targeting." Air & Space Power Journal 21, no. 4 (Winter 2007): 75-85.

Abstract: "Air strikes, independent from ground operations, are known as 'dynamic targeting.'" Such "strikes have typically been counterproductive in counterinsurgency campaigns" due to real or perceived collateral damage. However, Brown "asserts that commanders and planners who integrate dynamic targeting into the counterinsurgency campaign using careful target selection; quick, precise employment; and solid assessment of the enemy and population will produce positive, tangible results."

Bulloch, Gavin [Brigadier/British Army (Ret.)]. "Military Doctrine and Counterinsurgency: A British Perspective." Parameters 26, no. 2 (Summer 1996): 4-16.

"There is a clear relationship between force applied in war and force applied during a counterinsurgency campaign. The doctrine of maneuver warfare also applies equally to both types of warfare. In both situations force has to be applied selectively and in a controlled and measured fashion. Physical destruction is a means and not an end in a counterinsurgency campaign; the doctrine seeks to contribute to creating the conditions for political success with less force, more quickly, and with reduced costs. The theory of maneuver warfare shares a common ancestry with some of the most successful insurgent strategies. The military planner who is fully educated into this doctrine is more likely to cope with the real and inherent complexities of a counterinsurgency campaign than those who remain unaware of the doctrine."

Return to Special Operations Table of Contents