Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons by John A. Nagl

By John A. Nagl

Continuously, armies are accused of getting ready to struggle the former warfare. In studying to devour Soup with a Knife, Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl—a veteran of either Operation wasteland typhoon and the present clash in Iraq—considers the now-crucial query of ways armies adapt to altering conditions through the process conflicts for which they're before everything unprepared. by utilizing archival assets and interviews with individuals in either engagements, Nagl compares the improvement of counterinsurgency doctrine and perform within the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960 with what constructed within the Vietnam battle from 1950 to 1975.

In reading those occasions, Nagl—the topic of a up to date ny occasions journal disguise tale through Peter Maass—argues that organizational tradition is vital to the facility to profit from unanticipated stipulations, a variable and is the reason why the British military effectively performed counterinsurgency in Malaya yet why the yank military didn't achieve this in Vietnam, treating the struggle in its place as a traditional clash. Nagl concludes that the British military, due to its position as a colonial police strength and the organizational features created by way of its background and nationwide tradition, used to be larger capable of fast study and follow the teachings of counterinsurgency in the course of the process the Malayan Emergency.

With a brand new preface reflecting at the author's strive against adventure in Iraq, studying to devour Soup with a Knife is a well timed exam of the teachings of prior counterinsurgency campaigns that may be hailed through either army leaders and civilians.

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Extra info for Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

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Army Code 71451, Design for Military Operations: The British Military Doctrine (1989), vii. 28. , 21. 29. The concept is familiar in organizational learning literature; for example, "The Experiential Learning Cycle" consists of "Experience, Reflection, Generalization, and Experimentation" in a feedback loop process in Gervase R. B. Shani, Parallel Learning Structures: Increasing Innovation in Bureaucracies (Wokingham, England: Addison-Wesley, 1991), 141. This cycle owes its intellectual heritage to Colonel John Boyd, developer of the "Boyd Cycle" or "OODA Loop" in which fighter pilots are taught to observe, orient, decide, and act faster than their opponents can.

10 No matter. After the war, Clausewitz took the blame for the conduct of a war of annihilation of which he would most certainly have disapproved. The importance of Jomini for a student of counterinsurgency learning is evident: Jomini emphasizes the destruction of the enemy army in the field, despite Clausewitz's understanding that the true power of armies in the wake of Napoleon rests in the people and their government. 11 Nonetheless, armies ever since have clung to what they continue to describe as "Clausewitzian" (actually Jominian) principles of destroying the enemy army as the key to victory.

Wilson, Bureaucracy (New York: Basic Books, 1989), 91. 16. The evolution of strategic culture explanations for military policies is reviewed by Alastair Iain Johnston, "Thinking About Strategic Culture," International Security 19/4 (Spring 1995), 32-64. 17. Theodore G. , "Leadership and Organizational Culture: Actions Speak Louder than Words," Military Review LXXVI, No. 1 (January/February 1996), 45. 18. Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy, 34-35. 19. Elizabeth Kier, "Culture and Military Doctrine: France Between the Wars," International Security 191A (Spring 1995), 66.

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