David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context


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This in turn should enable the prac- titioner to make decisions on the use of COIN in the battlespace with a fuller awareness of its context, strengths, and weaknesses.

Three Models of Foreign Policy Learning in Counterinsurgency: David Galula and the Algerian War

She travels frequently to Afghanistan and publishes often on Afghanistan's politics, econo- my, culture and the U. Marlowe is a regular guest on the John Batchelor radio show discussing Afghanistan and counterinsurgency. She has also spoken on Afghanistan to the U. Army, the U. Army War College, the U. State Department, and college students. She was a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution in Marlowe holds a B. It is not an assessment of the worth of his ideas, though it may be useful for those who wish to make such an evaluation. The beginning of this monograph is comprised of 3 sections that discuss the history of Galula's two books, Counter insurgency Warfare and Pacification in Algeria.

The first section outlines the less-than-straightfor- ward publication history of the books and their initial reception. The second section looks at the context in which they appeared, the early s flourishing of writing on counterinsurgency. The remainder of the monograph has 6 sections that outline in chronological order what is known about Galula's life.

This account is based mainly on the author's interviews, along with some archival re- search and a recently published French master's the- sis. The second section follows him through his "journey to the East," his years in revolu- tionary China where he forged his thoughts on COIN.

Synonyms and antonyms of galula in the Portuguese dictionary of synonyms

The third section, "Countering Mao," discusses how Galula and his contemporary counterinsurgency theo- rists consciously aimed at defeating Mao's doctrine of revolutionary war. In the fourth section, Galula's time in Greece and Hong Kong is discussed. The fifth sec- tion concerns the rise of guerre revolutionnaire theory among senior officers in the French Army and the re- Vlll lationship of Galula's thought to this body of work.

The sixth section follows Galula during his 2-year command in Algeria, and the last section discusses his final years, including his work in the United States, his publication of a novel, and his untimely death.


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In , his two books on counterinsurgency had been out of print for forty years. One, Pacification in Algeria, had never really been published at all; writ- ten as a study for RAND, it was classified until One of the characteristics which makes Galula's work so robust — its infusion with both the French and Anglo-American counterinsurgency traditions — also left him an intellectual orphan. In his lifetime, Galula had the bad luck to be an expert who wrote in English about a conflict mainly of interest to the French.

Still worse, the Algerian war was tainted for Americans by the shadows of colonialism and torture. Though Ga- lula was in the United States during the early years of the American involvement in the Vietnam War, he seems to have had only a fleeting influence on those who formed our strategy.


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In France, counterinsurgency theory had enjoyed a great flourishing in the s and s, as the French Army fought successively in Indochina, Suez, and Al- geria. But the stars of this movement, a group of colo- nels including Roger Trinquier and Charles Lacheroy, were already famous before Galula began to write.

In the context of the French tradition of guerre revolution- naire, there was little novelty in Galula's approach. By , when FM brought Anglophone writ- ers back into the game, the French had less reason to be absorbed in counterinsurgency studies. So even after Galula's works were republished in English — and translated for the first time into French, nearly 40 years after his death — he remains almost unknown to the nation whose uniform he wore for most of his adult life. Before looking at the story behind Galula's books, it is worth noting that this monograph does not aim to either validate his theories or to critique them.

There is ammunition here both for readers inclined to blame Galula for what some call a "strategy of tactics" in our current wars, and for readers who think we would have won those wars conclusively had we only fol- lowed him more closely. It is possible that both opin- ions are partially true. This monograph makes it clear that Galula had broad experience as an observer of insurgency, but scant experience of command, and no command at an operational level.

It also makes it clear that the Amer- ican military has alternately embraced and shunned counterinsurgency doctrines, for reasons that in hind- sight can look very much like chance. One of the most remarkable cases of intellectual influence in recent years is the story of how a academic study by a virtually unknown French officer became one of the chief sources for today's American COIN doctrine. The authors of FM , of whom the most famous is General David Petraeus, write, "Of the many books that were influential in the writing of Field Manual , perhaps none was as important as David Galula's Counterinsurgency Warfare.

University of Chicago edition, p. In Iraq and Afghanistan, American troops had been living on large, highly pro- tected installations known as forward operating bases FOBs. They would patrol in the villages and cities where the people lived, but vanish at night into the FOBs. These were "forward" in the sense of being in the provinces, but not "forward" in any sense that mattered.

Much more than documents.

As Galula put it with typical wit, the counterinsur- gent's forces:. A military unit can spend the entire war in so-called strategic positions without contributing anything to the insurgent's defeat. Forces should not be wasted in traditionally commanding positions, for in revolutionary warfare, these positions generally command nothing. Counterinsurgency Warfare, p. Co-author Dr. Conrad Crane says that the main insights unique from Galula were: 1. Revolutionary war is unfair, most rules favor the insurgent.

Information operations permeate everything. Counterinsurgents must recognize insurgency exists, deal with root causes.

David Galula - Ann Marlowe - Häftad () | Bokus

Conrad Crane, personal communication, April 6, FM directly reflects Galula — and no other theorist — in emphasizing the need for "unity of effort: integrating civilian and military activities. Counter insurgency Warfare, p. Robert Thompson does not, perhaps because he could take for granted a competent colonial administration in Malaya. American thinkers were ahead of their British and French equivalents in recognizing the importance of what came to be called civil affairs in combating in- surgents.

This may have been because in the late s and early s, and especially once John F. Kennedy JFK became President, American elites believed that socio-economic progress was a key weapon in com- bating Communist subversion. It was only late in the Algerian War, by contrast, that the French gave much thought to improving the opportunities available to Algerians not of European extraction. Historian Andrew Birtle notes, In the military's opinion, pacification was the neces- sary precursor for achieving the type of systematic socioeconomic and political reforms that Americans generally thought were necessary to redress the un- derlying causes of revolutionary ferment, a process that MACV termed nation building.

Birtle, , p. Opinions vary as to whether these interventions lead to pacification. Berman, Felter, Shapiro, Abstract, p. The fact explains much of what happened. The first one cannot be avoided. To con- fine soldiers to purely military functions, while urgent and vital tasks have to be done, would be senseless. The soldier must then be prepared to become a pro- pagandist, a social worker, a civil engineer, a school- teacher, a nurse, or a boy scout.

But only for as long as he cannot be replaced, for it is better to entrust ci- vilian tasks to civilians. This, incidentally, is what the Chinese Communists have always tended to do. The second temptation— to let the military direct the entire process — on the other hand, this is so dangerous that it must be resisted at all costs.

Even now, it is virtually im- possible to find Galula's two books available online for below their list price, a sure sign that the market considers their contents valuable. Michael Rich, who republished Pacification in Algeria at the RAND Cor- poration, says it has been downloaded about 20, times since June 28, ; 2, copies have been sold. Michael Rich, personal communication, February 22, In his lifetime, Galula's works had been the victim of bad luck and bad timing. His first book, Pacification in Algeria, , is a minutely detailed account of his activities first as a captain and then as a major conducting ground-level counterinsurgency in two impoverished rural areas of Algeria.

While it is a grip- ping, almost novelistic account, appreciating Pacifica- tion requires more background on the Algerian war than most American readers have today. Galula's strategy focused on providing security to the people, not on chasing the guerrillas who harassed them, and his approach became known in military cir- cles as "population-centric. Galula, Pacification in Algeria, p. The reason may be that at the time, Algeria was in turmoil and some of the commanders he referred to were active in the Organisation de VArmee Secrete OAS , the French terrorist organization aimed at keeping Algeria French.

Senior French military men like Paul Aussaresses, Jean Larteguy, Jacques Massu, Raoul Salan, and Trinquier, who were associated with the French equivalent of counterinsurgency doctrine, guerre revolutionnaire, were also tainted with rumors of torture during the Battle of Algiers, or with later participation in the OAS. They were supported by the Spanish falangists — Hitler's allies — and many had fascist sympathies.

After the OAS began a desperation campaign of killing French secu- rity forces, the whole notion of counterinsurgency as practiced in Algeria fell under suspicion. Peter Paret expressed a common feeling in "the central con- cepts of pacification and of subversion are either iden- tical or at a short remove from one another. Anti-colonial- ism was the order of the day. President Kennedy was fashionably anti-colonialist, and while still a senator, spoke in favor of Algerian independence.

He quoted Gen- eral Orde Wingate on the ability of insurgents to fight asymmetric conflicts if the population was "favorable to penetration.

Counterinsurgency with John A. Nagl - Conversations with History

It is still far less known than Galula's second book, Counterin- surgency Warfare, which he wrote as a research asso- ciate at Harvard University's Center of International Affairs in Counter insurgency Warfare was published in by Praeger, which put out about a dozen other books on counterinsurgency in the early s. This is Ga- lula's more theoretical and general book, and does not require a familiarity with the Algerian war.

Weighing in at barely a third the length of Pacification, it is more adapted to the classroom and to the scant leisure time of commanders. At the time Counterinsurgency Warfare received a small flutter of attention. Counterinsurgency Warfare was cited as "the 'how-to' book in the field — and the best of them all" in the French Indochina expert Ber- nard Fall's Street Without Joy. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, originally published In February , The New York Times gave it a brief re- view along with the far better-known French Colonel Roger Trinquier's book, Modern Warfare, but the critic Hanson Baldwin praised the reactionary Trinquier and gave Galula just a grudging sentence: another retired officer, attempts — somewhat more successfully than others who have tried it in the past — a collection and definition of the terms and "laws" and principles of counterinsurgency operations.

February 24, , p. Military intellectuals cited Counterinsurgency Warfare regularly in bibliographies and endnotes in the s and s — notably Krepin- evich's The Army and Vietnam p. But it eventually went out of print, and was republished only through a complex chain of recent events in which Thomas Ricks again played a major role.

Combating Communist insurgen- cy was as urgent a task as defeating Al Qaeda is now. Mao was much studied, for the same reasons we now read the Quran and jihadist doctrine.

David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context
David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context
David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context
David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context
David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context
David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context
David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context
David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context
David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context

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