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Subject: Insurgency/COIN reading suggestions rss

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Sam H
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Hello fellow grogs,

Looking for some reading suggestions on insurgency and COIN operations. Probably more on a general/theoretical level but also interested in books on specific modern conflicts.

Any ideas?
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I just read "Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe" by Gerard Prunier.

Although this does not COIN operations it is an excellent book that discusses the history of a major little known conflict (that recently flared up again) and how insurgencies spread across national borders. I also found it a very interesting read.
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Sam H
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DarkTori wrote:
I just read "Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe" by Gerard Prunier.

Although this does not COIN operations it is an excellent book that discusses the history of a major little known conflict (that recently flared up again) and how insurgencies spread across national borders. I also found it a very interesting read.


Yes,I agree, I read that this year. It's a great book.
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http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/counter-insurgency
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Roger Brandon
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Though it's 100 years in the past, there's a great book on Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who waged a very successful guerrilla campaign in Africa.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Emil_von_Lettow-Vorbeck

I read about him in Edwin Hoyt's book "Guerilla"

http://www.amazon.com/Guerilla-Colonel-Lettow-Vorbeck-German...

There is also an autobiography by von Lettow-Vorbeck.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-reminiscences-of-east-afr...

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War of the Flea by Robert Taber

http://www.amazon.co.uk/War-Flea-Classic-Guerrilla-Warfare/d...

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Matt Pinchuk
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Not that I've read the whole thing, but the sections I've read were very interesting.

http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/coin/repository/Counter-Insurgen...
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Counterinsurgency Warfare by David Galula is pretty good. Its one of the older books on the subject, being written after the authors experiences in Algeria in the 50s, but its held true to the contemporay situation.
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mpin wrote:
Not that I've read the whole thing, but the sections I've read were very interesting.

http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/coin/repository/Counter-Insurgen...


Many thanks for the link. A very usefull synthesis.

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Brian Train
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Sam,

The US military came out with FM 3-24, "Counterinsurgency", in 2006/07. It is a different manual in that it is not written in the usual style, it incorporated input from social scientists, and it has an annotated bibliography - this last is a first.

Here is the reading list, starting with the canonical works. My comments are offered in [...]

The Classics

Calwell, Charles E. Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1996. (Reprint of Small Wars: A Tactical Textbook for Imperial Soldiers [London: Greenhill Books, 1890]. A British major general who fought in small wars in Afghanistan and the Boer War provides lessons learned that remain applicable today.)

Galula, David. Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. London: Praeger, 1964. (Lessons derived from the author's observation of insurgency and counterinsurgency in Greece, China, and Algeria.)
[Galula's work is very au courant right now, after sitting on the shelf for almost 40 years.]

Gurr, Ted Robert. Why Men Rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971. (Describes the relative deprivation theory, which states that unmet expectations motivate those who join rebel movements.)

Hoffer, Eric. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2002. (This book, originally published in 1951, explains why people become members of cults and similar groups.)

Horne, Alistair. A Savage War of Peace. New York: Viking, 1977. (One of the best analyses of the approaches and problems on both sides during the war in Algeria. For more on this conflict, see The Battle of Algiers, a troubling and instructive 1966 movie.)
[Excellent history, excellent movie.]

Jeapes, Tony. SAS Secret War. London: Greenhill Books, 2005. (How the British Special Air Ser­vice raised and employed irregular tribal forces to counter a communist insurgency in Oman during the 1960s and 1970s.)

Kitson, Frank. Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping. London: Faber and Faber, 1971. (Explanation of the British school of counterinsurgency from one of its best practitioners.)

Komer, Robert. Bureaucracy Does Its Thing: Institutional Constraints on U.S.-GVN Performance in Vietnam. Washington, D.C.: RAND, 1972. Rand Corporation Web site < http://www.rand.org/pubs/reports/R967/ > (Bureaucracies do what they do—even if they lose the war.)

Larteguy, Jean. The Centurions. New York: Dutton, 1962. (A fact-based novel about the French experience in Vietnam and Algeria that depicts the leadership and ethical dilemmas involved in counterinsurgency. The sequel The Praetorians is also a classic depiction of the impact of ethical erosion on a military organization.)
[Good novel, they made a not-great movie out of it with Anthony Quinn called Lost Command. The Praetorians is available in English from a small print-on-demand press.]

Lawrence, T.E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. New York: Anchor, 1991. (Reprint of 1917 book published in London by George Doran. Autobiographical account of Lawrence of Arabia's attempts to organize Arab nationalism during World War I.)

———. "The 27 Articles of T.E. Lawrence." The Arab Bulletin (20 Aug 1917). Defense and the National Interest Web site < http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/lawrence_27_articles.htm > (Much of the best of Seven Pillars of Wisdom in easily digestible bullet points.)

Linn, Brian McAllister. The Philippine War, 1899–1902. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2002. (The definitive treatment of successful U.S. counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines.)

Mao Zedong. On Guerrilla Warfare. London: Cassell, 1965. (Mao describes the principles which he used so well in seizing power in China and which have inspired many imitators.)

McCuen, John J. The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War. St. Petersburg, FL: Hailer Publishing, 2005. (Originally published by Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1966. Discusses theory, practice, and historical keys to victory.)
[This is an interesting interpretation of CRW experiences to the date of its writing.]

Race, Jeffrey. War Comes to Long An: Revolutionary Conflict in a Vietnamese Province. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1972. (Counterinsurgency is scalable. Depicts the evolution of insurgency in one province in Vietnam.)

Thompson, Robert. Defeating Communist Insurgency. St. Petersburg, FL: Hailer Publishing, 2005. (Written in 1966. Provides lessons from the author's counterinsurgency experience in Malaya and Vietnam.)

Trinquier, Roger. Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency. New York: Praeger, 1964. (The French school of counterinsurgency with a focus on "whatever means necessary.")

United States Marine Corps. Small Wars Manual. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1987. Air War College Gateway to the Internet Web site < http://www.au.af.mil/au/ > (This book, originally published in 1940, covers lessons learned from the Corps' experience in the interwar years.)
[Got my copy cheaply from Amazon.com. Good stuff in the beginning, skip the later sections that show you how to load a mule. For now.]

West, Bing. The Village. New York: Pocket Books, 1972. (A first-person account of military advisors embedded with Vietnamese units.)
[Excellent account of the Marine Combined Action Program!]

Overviews and Special Subjects in Counterinsurgency

Asprey, Robert. War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History. 2 vols. New York: William Morrow, 1994. (First published in 1975. Presents the history of guerrilla war from ancient Persia to modern Afghanistan.)
[Very thick and very detailed.]

Baker, Ralph O. "The Decisive Weapon: A Brigade Combat Team Commander's Perspective on Information Operations." Military Review 86, 3 (May-Jun 2006), 13–32. (A brigade combat team commander in Iraq in 2003–2004 gives his perspective on information operations.)

Corum, James and Wray Johnson. Airpower in Small Wars: Fighting Insurgents and Terrorists. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2003. (Depicts uses and limits of airpower and technology in counterinsurgency.)

Davidson, Phillip. Secrets of the Vietnam War. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1990. (MACV commander General Westmoreland's intelligence officer provides an insightful analysis of the intricacies of the North Vietnamese strategy of dau tranh ["the struggle"].)

Ellis, John. From the Barrel of a Gun: A History of Guerrilla, Revolutionary, and Counter-insurgency Warfare from the Romans to the Present. London: Greenhill, 1995. (A comprehensive short overview of counterinsurgency.)

Hammes, T.X. The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century. Osceola, WI: Zenith Press, 2004. (The future of warfare for the West is insurgency and terror according to a Marine with Operation Iraqi Freedom experience.)
[Recommended. COL Hammes works at the National Defense University.]

Krepinevich, Andrew Jr. The Army and Vietnam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. (Argues that the Army never adapted to the insurgency in Vietnam, preferring to fight the war as a conventional conflict with an emphasis on firepower.)
[I read this a couple of months ago. Great book! but still an indictment of how the US Army learns quickly, almost in spite of itself, and forgets what it has learned even faster.]

Merom, Gil. How Democracies Lose Small Wars: State, Society, and the Failures of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the United States in Vietnam. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. (Examines the cases of Algeria, Lebanon, and Vietnam. Determines that great powers lose small wars when they lose public support at home.)

Nagl, John A. Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. (How to learn to defeat an insurgency. Foreword by Peter J. Schoomaker.)
[Another recommended work, by one of the authors of FM 3-24.]

O'Neill, Bard E. Insurgency and Terrorism: From Revolution to Apocalypse. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2005. (A framework for analyzing insurgency operations and a good first book in insurgency studies.) [Recommended.]

Sepp, Kalev I. "Best Practices in Counterinsurgency." Military Review 85, 3 (May-Jun 2005), 8–12. (Historical best practices for success in counterinsurgency.)

Shy, John and Thomas W. Collier. "Revolutionary War" in Peter Paret, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1986. (One of the best overview of the various counterinsurgency schools, discussing both the writings and the contexts in which they were developed.)

Sorley, Lewis. A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. New York: Harvest/HBJ, 2000. (Describes the impact of General Creighton Abrams on the conduct of the war in South Vietnam. While he improved unity of effort in counterinsurgency, the North Vietnamese were successfully focusing on facilitating American withdrawal by targeting will in the United States.)

Taber, Robert. War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2002. (Explains the advantages of the insurgent and how to overcome them.)

Contemporary Experiences and the War on Terrorism

Alwin-Foster, Nigel R.F. "Changing the Army for Counterinsurgency Operations." Military Review 85, 6 (Nov-Dec 2005), 2–15. (A provocative look at U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Iraq in 2003-2004 from a British practitioner.)

Barno, David W. "Challenges in Fighting a Global Insurgency." Parameters 36, 2 (Summer 2006), 15–29. (Observations from a three-star commander in Afghanistan.)

Chiarelli, Peter W. and Patrick R. Michaelis. "Winning the Peace: The Requirement for Full-Spectrum Operations," Military Review 85, 4 (Jul-Aug 2005), 4–17. (The commander of Task Force Baghdad in 2004 describes his lessons learned.)

Collins, Joseph J. "Afghanistan: Winning a Three Block War." The Journal of Conflict Studies 24, 2 (Winter 2004), 61–77. (The former deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations provides his views on achieving success in Afghanistan.)

Crane, Conrad and W. Andrew Terrill. Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-conflict Scenario. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2003. < http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs > (Prescient look at the demands of rebuilding a state after changing a regime.)
[Conrad Crane presented on FM 3-24 at a meeting on iregular warfare I went to, and he was pretty impressive.]

Filkins, Dexter. "What the War Did to Colonel Sassaman." The New York Times Magazine (23 Oct 2005), 92. (Case study of a talented 4th Infantry Division battalion commander in Iraq in 2003-2004 who made some questionable ethical decisions that ended his career.)

Gunaratna, Rohan. Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror. Berkeley, CA: University of Berkeley Press, 2003. (The story behind the rise of the transnational insurgency.)

Hoffman, Bruce. Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2004. Rand Corporation Web site < http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP127/ > (Analysis of America's efforts in Iraq in 2003 informed by good history and theory.)

Kepel, Gilles. The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2004. (A French explanation for the rise of Islamic extremism with suggestions for defeating it.)

Kilcullen, David. "Countering Global Insurgency: A Strategy for the War on Terrorism." Journal of Strategic Studies 28, 4 (Aug 2005), 597–617. (Describes the war on terrorism as a counterinsurgency campaign.) [Kilcullen was a LCOL in the Australian Army and now advises the American military. I've read all these articles and they are excellent.]

———. "'Twenty-Eight Articles': Fundamentals of Company-level Counterinsurgency." Military Review 86, 3 (May-Jun 2006), 103–108. (Australian counterinsurgent prescribes actions for captains in counterinsurgency campaigns.)

———. "Counterinsurgency Redux," Survival 48, 4 (Winter 2006-2007), 111–130. (Discusses insurgency's evolution from the classic Maoist form to the modern transnational, shifting coalitions that challenge the United States today.)

Lewis, Bernard. The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror. New York: Modern Library, 2003. (A controversial but important analysis of the philosophical origins of transnational insurgency.)

McFate, Montgomery. "Iraq: The Social Context of IEDs." Military Review 85, 3 (May-Jun 2005), 37–40. (The insurgents' best weapon doesn't grow next to roads—it's constructed and planted there. Understanding who does that, and why, helps defeat improvised explosive devices.)

Metz, Steven and Raymond Millen, Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the 21st Century: Reconceptualizing Threat and Response. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2004. (Longtime scholars of counterinsurgency put the war on terrorism in historical context.)

Multi-national Force–Iraq. "Counterinsurgency Handbook," 1st ed. Camp Taji, Iraq: Counterinsurgency Center for Excellence, May, 2006. (Designed to help leaders at all levels conduct counterinsurgency operations but focused at the company, platoon, and squad levels. Contains a variety of principles, considerations, and checklists.)

Packer, George. The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. (A journalist for The New Yorker talks to Iraqis and Americans about Operation Iraqi Freedom.)

———. "The Lesson of Tal Afar: Is It Too Late for the Administration to Correct Its Course in Iraq?" The New Yorker (10 Apr 2006), 48–65. (The 2005 success of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment with the clear-hold-build tactic in Tal Afar.)

Petraeus, David. "Learning Counterinsurgency: Observations from Soldiering in Iraq." Military Review 86, 1 (Jan-Feb 2006), 2–12. (Commander of the 101st and Multinational Security Transition Command–Iraq passes on his personal lessons learned from two years in Iraq.)

Sageman, Marc. Understanding Terror Networks. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. (A former foreign service with Afghanistan experience explains the motivation of terrorists—not deprivation, but the need to belong.)
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Jim Ransom
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Yep. That oughta pretty much cover it!

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Sam H
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

BeatPosse wrote:


Thanks for the link. I've been using Goodreads but hadn't noticed I could search for shelves.

ltmurnau wrote:
Sam,

Here is the reading list, starting with the canonical works. My comments are offered in [...]


Wow. Thanks a lot for that and thanks for the added comments.

I agree that "La bataille d'Algers" is a great movie. I remember watching it first about 15 years ago. Around the same time we also watched another classic: "Nada"(1974) whose subject matter also fits with this thread.
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Brian Train
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He heh, thanks Jim.

What is this movie "Nada"?
Other good counterinsurgency movies include "State of Siege" by Costas-Gavras (about the Tupamaros of Uruguay), and there have been some okay movies come out about Algeria (Intimate Enemies) and Afghanistan (The Beast, The Ninth Company).
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Volko Ruhnke
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Excellent annotations, Brian!

Some overlap with the above, but in case there is particular interest in Colombia, from the Andean Abyss Playbook, with my micro-summaries:

SELECTED SOURCES
(roughly, from Right to Left)

“Insights from Colombia’s ‘Prolonged War’” by Carlos Alberto Ospina Ovalle, JFQ, issue 42, 3rd quarter 2006. The importance of strategy, doctrine, and legitimacy in internal war, from the architect of modern Colombian COIN.

“Colombia—Learning Institutions Enable Integrated Response” by Thomas A. Marks, Prism 1, No.4, August 2010. How the Colombian Army and Government learned COIN during the period of the game and won against FARC and AUC.

Colombian Labyrinth—The Synergy of Drugs and Insurgency and Its Implications for Regional Stability by Angel Rabasa and Peter Chalk, RAND, 2001. From mid-period of the game, a US view of how to win as the Government.

Colombia—Issues for Congress by June Beittel, Congressional Research Service (CRS), March 2011. Looking back on prog- ress in Colombian COIN and counter-narcotics, as assessed for the US Congress.

Drug Lords—The Rise and Fall of the Cali Cartel by Ron Chepesiuk, Milo Books Ltd, 2003. Focused on US assistance to the Government in fighting the last flashy cartel.

Insurgency & Terrorism—From Revolution to Apocalypse by Bard O’Neill, Potomac Books, Inc., 2005. Theoretical discus- sion of insurgency and COIN, including the nature of egalitarian (FARC), preservationist (AUC), and commercialist (Cartels) insurgencies worldwide.

Colombia: d20—Guerilla Warfare by Tom Ricks and Ken Lightner, Holistic Design Inc., 2003. Background for roleplay- ing the Colombian conflict, including economic and cultural aspects.

“From Smugglers to Drug Lords to Traquetos—Changes in Illicit Colombian Drug Organizations” by Álvaro Camacho Guizado and Andrés López Restrepo, Peace, Democracy, and Human Rights in Colombia, University of Notre Dame Press, 2007. How the big cartels learned to decentralize and keep a low profile.

Hostage Nation—Colombia’s Guerrilla Army and the Failed War on Drugs by Victoria Bruce and Karin Hayes, with Jorge Enrique Botero, Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. The stories of the most famous FARC hostages of the Uribe period.

Colombia and the United States—War, Unrest and Destabilization by Mario A. Murillo, Seven Stories Press, 2003. Discussion of the development, nature, and capabilities of the AUC; sees Government design in the formation and tolerance of the paramilitaries.

Blood and Capital—The Paramilitarization of Colombia by Jasmin Hristov, Ohio University Press, 2009. A catalogue of human rights abuses by AUC and Army, pinned herein on class interests and Government complicity.

Revolutionary Social Change in Colombia—The Origin and Direction of the FARC-EP by James J. Brittain, Pluto Press, 2010. The Marxist view of the conflict and why FARC is destined to win.

-Volko
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Sam H
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ltmurnau wrote:
He heh, thanks Jim.

What is this movie "Nada"?
Other good counterinsurgency movies include "State of Siege" by Costas-Gavras (about the Tupamaros of Uruguay), and there have been some okay movies come out about Algeria (Intimate Enemies) and Afghanistan (The Beast, The Ninth Company).


Nada is a movie by Claude Chabrol based on Jean-Patrick Manchette's novel of the same name (also very good). A group of french anarchists kidnap the US ambassador to France. It doesn't end well... (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071890/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2)

While on the topic of movies, another one I remember and want to watch again is "Les ordres" (according to Wikipedia it was translated to "Orders" and "Orderers") a 1974 québécois movie about the war measures act during the 1970 October Crisis.
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Shelby Stanton, Green Berets at War: U.S. Army Special Forces in Southeast Asia 1956-1973.

The author covers everything including the roots and origins of SF, training and doctrine, and their deployment in various roles such as training and leading the indigenous irregular forces in the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta; the creation and ops of MIKE Forces; the covert missions of MACV-SOG; and their participation in long-range patrols and interdiction in Laos and Cambodia (e.g. Projects Sigma, Omega, and 404), and infamous CIA Phoenix program.

The history that evolves is one of an elite force victimized by its own success, as the contribution of its '62-'63 operations in preventing the fall of the Saigon government, leads to a rapid expansion of both the force size and missions, with a resultant reduction in force quality and effectiveness.

.
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Discussion of a number of COIN books on newest episode (X) of Guns, Dice, Butter.
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Roger Brandon
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Battle of Algiers really is a great movie! Of all the movies suggested, I'd start with that one!
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Brian Train
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Thanks Bill, the Shelby Stanton book is quite good too of course.
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Adam Curtis (the guy who did the "Power of Nightmares" and "The Trap" series for the BBC) has a long essay on COIN on his website replete with video clips. It`s fascinating.


Google for "How To Kill A Rational Peasant", or, here is the link:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2012/06/how_to_kill_a_...

About a fifth of the way down it starts talking about David Galula and that`s when it starts to get disturbing.

It also has a clip from 1967 of some Americans in Vietnam playing a board game that looks remarkably like the forthcoming "A Distant Plain".

Highly recommend this to you Herr Dr.!!
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Yes, a very good documentary!

I think the game the two analysts are playing in the film is possibly an early version of Insurgency, as the film clip is from about that time period. It could also be some kind of home variation of the Gamescience game Viet Nam, which came out in 1965 and looks a bit like it.

However, I can say that game has nothing to do with A Distant Plain, as that film was brought to my attention by Sean Gitting, in the middle of the 157-comment thread that followed the announcement that ADP was going up on GMT's P-500 list.

Brian
 
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