Testing Galula in Ameriyah: The People Are the Key

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Dale Kuehl. Military Review (March-April 2009) pp. 72-80.
Abstract: Critics of the Army’s focus on counterinsurgency operations (COIN) have argued recently that the Army has developed a dogmatic approach to COIN. In particular, they question the assertion in Field Manual (FM) 3-24, Counterinsurgency, that the insurgents’ ability to sustain popular support [for their cause] or at least acquiescence [to it]” is essential for an effective insurgency in the long term and is usually one of the insurgent’s centers of gravity. However, based on 14 months of COIN operations in northwest Baghdad, including in the Sunni neighborhood of Ameriyah, I think the authors of FM 3-24 got it right. While some have argued that the Army is approaching COIN in a dogmatic fashion, I disagree. I, for one, had not completely read the new FM, since it came out after we deployed. However, based on my previous study of COIN, I saw that gaining the trust of the local populace was essential to our operations. At least for our unit, it worked.