Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice
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Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  370 ratings  ·  31 reviews
This volume in the Praeger Security International (PSI) series Classics of the Counterinsurgency Era defines the laws of insurgency and outlines the strategy and tactics to combat such threats. Drawn from the observations of a French officer, David Galula, who witnessed guerrilla warfare on three continents, the book remains relevant today as American policymakers, militar...more
Paperback, 106 pages
Published August 30th 2006 by Praeger Publishers (first published 1964)
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I have been doing some studying up on warfare and counterinsurgency warfare in particular, and this is one the most basic and essential texts on the subject. Reading it, so much of what Galula talks about seems so obvious now, but that only stands as evidence of how seminal a book it is in the field. There is plenty in it to make one wonder why the U.S. was so slow to put some of these principles into effect. There is also much in it to make me think how massive a political failure the Iraq war...more
Dec 30, 2010 Anthony rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any soldier or person interested in wars in counterinsurgency strategy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Galula and Trinquier on Insurgency and Counterinsurgency
(from a longer paper for Bruce Hoffman's SEST-520 Counterinsurgency class)

David Galula and Roger Trinquier: both French officers, both warriors through the Second World War, the French Indochinese War, and the Algerian War for Independence. In 1964, each wrote a manual on the lessons he had learned about the new form of war fought in the last two of these conflicts. Called “revolutionary warfare” by Galula and “modern warfare” by Trinquier,...more
I'm actually quite surprised- because I have long since learned that anything trendy usually sucks, I was not expecting much from this book. In addition, I have read many other books on this subject over the last couple of decades. I have to admit, however, that 'Counter-Insurgency Warfare: Theory & Practice' is easily the most clearly and concisely written step-by-step guide to conducting counterinsurgency operations that I have yet read. Lieutenant Colonel Galula's reputation, which I had...more
In Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, David Galula etches in stone, the necessities of warfare that were, at the time, predicted to be of dire need for the Occident’s success against the dissemination of communism. He wrote the book under the assumption that the West, particularly the United States, will automatically grow heavily involved in future insurgency-based warfare. Aside from redefining a priori limitations to military engagements, Galula ingeniously prescribes new develop...more
Upon reading this, I realized that I have read this book before - in fact, probably twice before. Written in the style of an army-guide, its insights are so basic to our modern understanding of counterinsurgency that it is difficult to see what the fuss is about. That this was one of the original such guides, written by a man who had observed and experienced counter-insurgency from North Africa, to Southeast Asia, and China, is why it has become an interesting primary source in its own right. He...more
Howard Anders
I first read Colonel Galula's book many years ago, in preparation for my assignment in Vietnam. Galula's theories, developed as an observer of the Chinese Revolution of 1927-49, and as a participant in France's counterinsurgency in Algeria, 1954-62, formed the basis for US counterinsurgency efforts in Vietnam. Recently the same theories have been revived by the US Department of Defense, tempered by our experiences in Afghanistan and post-war Iraq, and incorporated into Field Manual 3-24, "Counte...more
Dan Bell
A quick and easy read (don't be fooled by how long it took me; I went through part of it for a paper and then decided recently to read through it's entirety) for anyone interested in insurgency warfare. Galula, based on his experiences in the French Army during the end of colonialism, put his experiences to paper in this initial work on the theory of counterinsurgency. While some parts of the book are obviously dated, the core of the theory is still applicable today, and can be witnessed in Iraq...more
I read this in earl 2007 when I was trying to learn more about counterinsurgency war and the "surge" that the US forces were promoting in Iraq. This is a short theoretical essay on counterinsurgency war by an expert with ties to the French military. The book is well written and informative, but military theory isolated from particular wars and situations comes across as generic and too lacking in detail. The other book I was reading at the time - Horne's history of the Algerian war -- was far su...more
Adam Elkus
The book is problematic for several reasons. First, its not an accurate representation of what the French or the other Western powers actually did in their colonial wars. Second, it is also based on some dated ideas about development, the nature of Communism, a poor understanding of Maoist strategy, and the relationship between politics and war. But Galula also got a lot of other stuff right, and he deserves credit for his insights.
The definitive counterinsurgency manual. A must read for anyone who wants to understand what the US is attempting to do (now) in Iraq and how the majority of the wars of the future will be fought. It is quite amazing how well this book has aged, it's concepts are still whole and can easily be merged with other works of political science and sociology to form a powerful 'lens' to understand happenings around the world.
Galula lays out the basic steps of an insurgency or revolutionary war and the steps neccessary to combat or suppress one.

Why I started this book: It was short and I was going to whip thru it.

Why I finished it: It took a lot more effort than I was expecting but my biggest frustration is that this book was written in 1964 and our military is still learning the lessons in here the hard way.
Apr 18, 2010 Gordon rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: coin
Amazingly relevant today as when it was first published. A foundation read for any military officer or civilian involved in COIN operations, policy or strategy. Galula explains how best to tackle insurgencies and their vulnerabilities. He lays out laws and characteristics of insurgency and COIN warfare and then how to develop successful COIN strategies.
Matt Danner
Truly a classic and a requirement for anyone who wants to understand irregular war and how to counter it. However, the reader should be advised that Galula is discussing a fairly narrow portion of the topic. Specifically, his experience was in countering centralized, Mao-ist, internal insurgency. The United States faces very different enemies today.
Galula expertly draws conclusions from his own counterinsurgency experience to craft this "how-to" manual. Although this was written about 60 years ago, there are many parallels with the current situation in Iraq. It's amazing how the more things change, the more they stay the same. This is a great book for anyone interested in the topic.
From the "father" of COIN doctrine. Galula served as a French military officer in WWII asd afterwords in various outposts of unrest through the cold war, culminating in Algeria during the French army's rebellion. He outlines in clear language the steps to be taken as well as why, in clear, economical prose.
A very interesting and only too relevant book on counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare. Many of the aspects and strategies listed here have become so commonplace as to appear obvious, but this book was likely revolutionary in its own time. Very interesting use of historical examples.
Sean Blomgren
Very cool as foundational military theory but his political analysis of insurgency has aged terribly, as he divides it into Maoist and bourgeois nationalism, both of which are pretty out of vogue.
Excellent and very in depth look at counterinsurgency, for anyone looking for a book on this topic look no further since this is a must read and an excellent place to start on the topic.
A pretty good book and a quick read. It is quite definitely the source of the strategy the US followed (or was attempting to follow) in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The book that informed the transformation of U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine. It's filled with ideas that were radical at the time.
Once I reached page 18, I knew for certain that our forces were in trouble in Afghistan. Galula makes counterinsurgency come to life.
A good book and it gave me a new perspective on counterinsurgency warfare. Very interesting ideas and insights on the topic.
Joseph Robinson
I learn better from specific examples rather than general theory. I found the book light on "practice" and heavy on "theory".
Jul 28, 2007 Marvin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: military folk
good lessons: timeless. It is interesting to see what someone has to say from so long ago that rings true today.
Brian Ridge
The bible of COIN warfare. If I'm ever leading a COIN campaign and can have one book at my side this is it.
This is a great book on the subject. Very easy read with fantastic information. A must read.
Must read for every soldier and warrior. Good for gang cops and the like as well.
focuses too much on anti-communist counterinsurgency, rather than on more general tactics
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