The Soul of Armies: Counterinsurgency Doctrine and Military Culture in the US and UK (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

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For both the United States and United Kingdom counterinsurgency was a serious component of security policy during the Cold War and, along with counterterrorism, has been the greatest security challenge after September 11, 2001. In The Soul of Armies Austin Long compares and contrasts counterinsurgency operations during the Cold War and in recent years by three organizations: the US Army, the US Marine Corps, and the British Army.

Long argues that the formative experiences of these three organizations as they professionalized in the nineteenth century has produced distinctive organizational cultures that shape operations. Combining archival research on counterinsurgency campaigns in Vietnam and Kenya with the author's personal experience as a civilian advisor to the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Soul of Armies demonstrates that the US Army has persistently conducted counterinsurgency operations in a very different way from either the US Marine Corps or the British Army. These differences in conduct have serious consequences, affecting the likelihood of success, the potential for civilian casualties and collateral damage, and the ability to effectively support host nation governments. Long concludes counterinsurgency operations are at best only a partial explanation for success or failure.

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About the Author:

Austin Long is an Assistant Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs and a Member of the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies and the Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies at Columbia University. He was an analyst and advisor to Coalition forces in Iraq (2007–2008) and Afghanistan (2011 and 2013). He is author of On "Other War": Lessons from Five Decades of RAND Counterinsurgency Research.

Review:

"In The Soul of Armies, Dr.Long... exploresthe question: how does an army's organizational culture impact how itconducts counter-insurgency?Long argues an army’s ability to execute a counter-insurgencycampaign is rooted in formative experiences during the 19th century.Policymakers, military professionals, and scholars willall gain insights from this book. Long provides cause for introspectionby those who variously formulate policy, conduct operations, and studythis "new way of war." AlthoughLong presents convincing evidence that organizational culture impactsthe conduct of counter-insurgency operations, as he points out, the keyfor successful campaigns must rest beyond organizational culture alone."― Colonel Ian C. Rice, Parameters (Summer 2016)



"Why are some armies better at counterinsurgency than others? Austin Long provides the most convincing answer yet by showing how organizational culture shapes military doctrine and practice. Critically, he finds that this matters less than one might think. Success in counterinsurgency ultimately depends on reliable local government and security partners. This is an insightful and important book."―Theo Farrell, Head of the Department of War Studies, King's College London



"In The Soul of Armies, Austin Long advances the literature on military culture not only by demonstrating how variation in culture explains variation in how armies approach the challenge of counterinsurgency, but also by providing a theory of the origins of military culture. Forged in wars fought at the time of officer corps professionalization, military culture provides armed services with a set of ideas about the appropriate ends and means of warfare that prove remarkably resistant to change, and which powerfully shape behavior on the battlefield. In a series of compelling case studies, Long shows how the divergent cultures of the U.S. Army, Special Operations Forces, Marine Corps, and the British Army influenced how they prosecuted counterinsurgency. Anyone hoping to understand why militaries fight they way they do should read this book."―Alexander Downes, The George Washington University, author of Targeting Civilians in War



"Austin Long uses an impressive mix of case studies on Vietnam, Kenya, Iraq, and Afghanistan to explain why some organizations conduct counterinsurgency campaigns in the way they do and why there is variation in the way militaries conduct counterinsurgency. Long's focus on the role of organizational culture is a valuable contribution to the literature on counterinsurgency."―Seth G. Jones, RAND Corporation and Johns Hopkins University

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