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The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One
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The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,730 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
David Kilcullen is one of the world's most influential experts on counterinsurgency and modern warfare, a ground-breaking theorist whose ideas "are revolutionizing military thinking throughout the west" (Washington Post). Indeed, his vision of modern warfare powerfully influenced America's decision to rethink its military strategy in Iraq and implement "the Surge," now rec ...more
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.), 384 pages
Published March 16th 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc. (first published March 2009)
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Terri
While some may say that Kilcullen's theories on the Accidental Guerrilla are not revolutionary, I believe that to the date of the book being published they, in a manner of ways, were.
In fact the author himself says "The ideas are not new; implementing them effectively would be". And that is what this book is all about.
Implementing conceptual frameworks that quantify best practise in the field of Accidental Guerrilla syndrome (ad hoc fighters with little interest in Jihadic motivations) and in co
...more
Trish
Faced with unsuccessful military interventions in several conflicts, some of our own making, the U.S. military leadership seconded Lt. Col. David Kilcullen of the Australian Army to work with them on devising a and testing a new strategy that might allow them to withdraw from their engagements without complete failure. Kilcullen is a military officer, but also an anthropologist. This book is his attempt to explain his thinking on the worldwide Islamic insurgency and the best methods to try and c ...more
Murtaza
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this in conjunction with Akbar Ahmed's "The Thistle and the Drone," and found it to be a thoughtful take on the War on Terror that combines both a military and anthropological perspective. The central thesis is that the United States is fighting many people around the world who are simply at war with them because they have intruded on their territory, thus making them "accidental guerillas." While this seems like a pretty obvious conclusion to me, its refreshing to hear from a military of ...more
Chris
Mar 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military
The Accidental Guerrilla is indeed not an easy read, but is rich with the life experience and thoughtful analysis of one of the world's foremost counterinsurgency experts. Kilcullen meanders from Iraq to Afghanistan to Timor to Thailand, stuttering and stopping to share insights on counterinsurgency best (and worst) practices. He then moves on to Europe to explore how best to understand (and engage) disconnected Muslim communities. The US Army advisor does not limit himself to an assessment of c ...more
Jack
I gave this one four stars since I disliked the Accidental Guerrilla aspect of all the discussion. It summarized to a fine point...if you are in someone else's country...you are going to piss him/her off. That someone may wind up shooting at you. Yep, been there done that. Hence you have accidently created a guerrilla.

Ok let's get onto the next aspect. The author is very spot on with many of his discussions.

Over-response. AQ/Hezbollah/Mahdi Army/Radical Freaks want to cause some damage to us to
...more
Corto
Jul 29, 2011 added it
This is the book I've been waiting 8 years to read. To date, this is the most clear and concise assessment of our current conflict environment told through the eyes of an anthropologist, counterinsurgency theorist and soldier.



The analysis and prescriptions are reality-based and anyone wanting to gain real insight into the wars we're fighting would profit by reading this book. When I was about halfway done with the book I complained to a friend (a Vietnam Vet who'd served in a Marine CAP platoon)
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FiveBooks
Professor Mary Kaldor of LSE has chosen to discuss David Kilcullen’s The Accidental Guerrilla on FiveBooks as one of the top five on her subject - War , saying that:

“… Kilcullen was really the thinking behind the “surges” in Iraq and now in Afghanistan. He thinks we face a global insurgency of Takfir terrorists, basically Al-Qaida, who are trying to attack the West. They infiltrate areas like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, marry locals and both intimidate and bribe people in order to mo
...more
Simon
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Review Part 1

The nice people in the G7 Branch at the Army's HQ Land Training and Doctrine Group loaned me a copy of David Kilcullen’s Accidental Guerrilla to read on the promise that I would give them a book review in return – fair trade, I think, and one which provides me an opportunity to assess the actual time required to review and read a book for future jobs. I missed David Kilcullen’s briefs when he visited NZ in October '09, having been required to attend another commitment in the UK that
...more
Grey
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Although LtCol/Dr. Kilcullen has his detractors -- mostly those with no actual experience or cogent arguments -- this book ranks as one of the most important at this juncture in our several wars.

He starts with an overview of the "accidental guerrilla" phenomenon. Explained this way, many seemingly anomalous events start to make sense. It's just a thesis, but I think he's onto something. See, too, Steve Metz's work on the psychological vs political roots of insurgency. Reading Kilcullen's book, M
...more
DoctorM
A fine introduction to the basic concepts of counterinsurgency warfare by one of its leading theorists--- a former Australian Army officer with a PhD and combat experience in East Timor as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, the man who was a key player in the restructuring of the American war effort in Iraq. Kilcullen offers a non-technical introduction to COIN as well as a thoughtful tour of some of the world's insurgencies.

The bulk of the groups fighting against American and allied forces, Kilcull
...more
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“My personal position on counterinsurgency in general, and on Iraq and Afghanistan in particular, could therefore be summarized as "Never again, but..." That is, we should avoid any future large-scale, unilateral military intervention in the Islamic world, for all the reasons already discussed. But, recognizing that while our conventional war-fighting superiority endures, any sensible enemy will choose to fight us in this manner, we should hold on to the knowledge and corporate memory so painfully acquired, across all the agencies of all the Coalition partners, in Afghanistan and Iraq. And should we find ourselves (by error or necessity) in a similar position once again, then the best practices we have rediscovered in current campaigns represent an effective approach: effective, but not recommended.” 3 likes
“Some terrorism analysts have seen the southern insurgency as an Islamic jihad that forms part of the broader network of AQ-linked extremism, with Islamic theology and religious aspirations (for shari’a law or an Islamic emirate) as a key motivator.73 This surface impression is reinforced by the facts that the violence is led by ustadz74 and other religious teachers, that the mosques and ponoh (Islamic schools) have a central role as recruiting and training bases, and that militants repeatedly state that they are fighting a legitimate defensive jihad against the encroachment of the kafir (infidel) Buddhist Thai government. Clearly, also, the AQ affiliate Jema’ah Islamiyah (JI) has used Thailand as a venue for key meetings, financial transfers, acquisition of forged documents,75 and money laundering and as a transit hub for operators.” 0 likes
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