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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. Mark Moyar assails this conventional wisdom, asserting that the key to counterinsurgency is selecting commanders who have superior leadership abilities. Whereas the hearts-and-minds school recommends allocating much labor and treasure to economic, social, and political reforms, Moyar advocates concentrating resources on security, civil administration, and leadership development.
Moyar presents a wide-ranging history of counterinsurgency, from the Civil War and Reconstruction to Afghanistan and Iraq, that draws on the historical record and interviews with hundreds of counterinsurgency veterans, including top leaders in today’s armed forces. Through a series of case studies, Moyar identifies the ten critical attributes of counterinsurgency leadership and reveals why these attributes have been much more prevalent in some organizations than others. He explains how the U.S. military and America’s allies in Afghanistan and Iraq should revamp their personnel systems in order to elevate more individuals with those attributes.
A Question of Command will reshape the study and practice of counterinsurgency warfare. With counterinsurgency now one of the most pressing issues facing the United States, this book is a must-read for policymakers, military officers, and citizens.
“Moyar''s study of Vietnam--Triumph Forsaken--is becoming a classic in counterinsurgency circles. His new case studies--A Question of Command--are making it to the desks of top military decision makers.”--George Stephanopoulos, ABC News
— George Stephanopoulos
“Terrorism, uniquely horrifying as it is, doesn’t belong to an entirely separate and containable realm of human experience, like the one occupied by serial killers. Instead, it’s a tactic whose aims bleed into the larger, endless struggle of people to control land, set up governments, and exercise power. History is about managing that struggle.”--Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker
— Nicholas Lemann
"[This] brilliant young scholar of the Vietnam War reminds us that it takes a special kind of soldier—reflective, patient, creative—to lead counterinsurgency operations."—Eliot A. Cohen, The Washington Post
— Eliot A. Cohen
“Moyar is a true pioneer in a field whose importance for national security has been accepted only reluctantly and belatedly by the American public. . . . Now we have a vastly improved roadmap for guidance.”-- John Tierney, Books and Culture
— John Tierney
Posted March 29, 2012
An excellent book about the history of counterinsurgency and how it is practiced (for better or worse) presently. A must have for any military history library - amatuer or professional!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 3, 2010
Moyer highlights the ultimate characteristic required for defeating insurrgencies. He takes the reader through insurrengies from the civil war to Iraq and Afghanistan and sets out the need for competent leaders and how they apply skills with the populations and the Marines or soldiers under their command. The field manual written by Army and Marine Corps senior officers is good; but Moyer says it is missing a vital part of leadership and putting the right person in leadership positions and allowing them to use creativity and flexibility to diffuse the situation. He further advocates developing leaders from the area where insurrencies are taking place and giving them the responsibility to care for there "home." Moyer enphasizes the requirement of understanding and communicating with all sides of an insurrgency and using 10 princilpes to diffuse the situation. Using the ten principles (he says not many people hvae all ten principles) the leader has the opportunity to change unrest into compliance and satisfaction.
This book has revelance in our cities also. There are problems in our large cities: gangs, drugs, killings and many other social problems. All of these are indicative of insurrgencies in other countries. Moyer's ten principles aply here within our own country as well as in the streets of the Middle East or around the world.
This is a one-of-a-kind book that applies across broad spectrums and gives us a refreashing view at an age old problem. Traditional forces are ineffective againist insurrgencies and it seems contemporary law enforcement principles are ineffective againist present day urban unrest. Moyer gives us this new perspective.