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A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq

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3.5  ·  Rating details ·  52 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
According to the prevailing view of counterinsurgency, the key to defeating insurgents is selecting methods that will win the people’s hearts and minds. The hearts-and-minds theory permeates not only most counterinsurgency books of the twenty-first century but  the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, the U.S. military’s foremost text on counterinsurgency ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Yale University Press (first published October 20th 2009)
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Joseph Stieb
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coin
Moyar presents a somewhat revisionist account of the history of American counterinsurgency campaigns. His individual chapters are very interesting, especially the ones about Iraq and Afghanistan. His basic argument is that FM 3-24 and its main proponents have not adequately appreciated the importance of leadership in successful counterinsurgency. The idea that leadership is the most important factor, however, misses the point that good leaders still need a good strategy, something that FM 3-24 p ...more
Aubrey Dustin
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Counterinsurgency is a situation with the most complex human dynamics imaginable. This makes it a great backdrop against which to study the utility of leadership. In A Question of Command, Mr. Moyar explores each of the counterinsurgencies the United States has encountered, from the Civil War to the present, and makes a compelling argument that the greatest decisive factor in each was leadership. He analizes leadership in terms of 10 attributes, which are fundamental to counterinsurgency leaders ...more
Grey
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit hard to read -- deep non-fiction -- but well worth the effort. Cogent and understandable analysis of the reasons for success or failure in COIN over the past 200 years, but best yet are the lessons learned and recommendations that come at the end.

And the lesson is not limited to COIN -- in most human endeavors, success boils down to the quality of leadership. Some will say that you have to have the right people. I counter that the good leader will identify, attract, develop and retain the
...more
Gordon
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very worthwhile read. I was skeptical of the basic premise of this book until half way through; i.e. that having the right leaders is more important to success in COIN operations than applying COIN principles. Although there are gaps in his analysis of nine different insurgencies, his points on successful leadership are well supported. In counterinsurgency fights, leadership crosses multiple fronts - the host nation government & security forces, the insurgents, and the foreign forces. Mark ...more
Glyn Phillips
Has some strong points but I think its a bit too optimistic about why Americans have failed in Vietnam.
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