Permissible Arms

Kilcullen Retread, Authors@Google

Posted in counterinsurgency by Karaka on 16 June 2010

Speaking of David Kilcullen, he spoke last year at Google’s visiting author program.

He’s speaking on “The Accidental Guerilla,” and it’s sort of the visual retread of what many of us will already know from his work and from COIN theory in general. The better part of it is the question-and-answer session in the latter half of the video.

I enjoy watching Kilcullen speak–I think when he’s conversational, it reflects well on him both in writing and in speaking. But I also think it’s pretty neat to see all the people Google has hosted at their campus.

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6 Responses

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  1. Mike Few said, on 16 June 2010 at 17:04

    Classic Exum. I agreed with much of what he said. I’m not sure that he has a good grasp on how much violence actually went down in Anbar and Diyala Province back in 2006/07, and I’m not certain why he doesn’t address the amount of violence typically required to suppress an insurgency. Besides that, I think that he has one of the best understandings of the different situations in each conflict. IMO, the last two Q&A’s were the best of the presentation.

    • Mike Few said, on 16 June 2010 at 17:05

      Exum??? Ugh. I meant Kilcullen.

    • Karaka said, on 16 June 2010 at 20:24

      I wondered when I saw the first comment!

      It seems that one of the flaws that tend to appear in discussions of counterinsurgency is the realistic assessment of the violence involved. I think there’s still a lot of misperception–particularly among critics of COIN–that counterinsurgency is a less violence means of practicing war. Which is frankly foolish–war is war, no matter the mechanism, but it’s a a thought I see expressed again and again. Part of the reason for that, I suspect, is that early contemporary advocates didn’t talk about the violence so much as the infrastructure building involved in COIN. But they clearly go hand in hand.

  2. Mike Few said, on 17 June 2010 at 04:52

    IMO, the problem with that approach is not with the policy debate in DC. Rather, it’s how COIN is interpretted to the Regular Army. By understating the use of violence, many units become hampered in their thought process. Most soldiers (O’s and E’s) are not going to be thoroughly versed in Malaya Emergency, Algiers, Colombia, or the Phillipines.

    • Karaka said, on 17 June 2010 at 09:24

      That’s a great point, Mike. But I consider that to be an offshoot of the policy discourse–how it’s presented to those who will in fact practice it.

  3. War News Updates said, on 18 June 2010 at 12:01

    Excellent video. I missed it last year. Thanks.


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