Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958
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"At this point in the war on terror, even people who think David Galula is a trendy new chef are quick to point to the need for cultural understanding in successful counterinsurgency. Often, they are quicker still to beat up on our military for supposedly ignoring this. They are quite sure that if we just understood the Iraqis/Afghans/Shiites/Sunnis better, we would have made fewer mistakes… Well, perhaps the most successful counterinsurgency operation ever mounted, David Galula's in Algeria, doesn't build the case for the overweening importance of cultural knowledge. The Algerians pacified thanks to Galula's insights were French-speaking (some of the leaders of the FLN barely spoke Arabic). The French took back territory from the rebels not because Galula convinced them that he understood their culture, but because he convinced them that their interests were better served by affiliation with France. (A dozen pages of Galula are worth more than anything written by anyone mentioned in this article. His 1963 Pacification in Algeria, reissued by RAND last year, is a witty, snappy, pre-PC read.)"
- The Weekly Standard, November 26, 2007
"Throughout the history of armies, counterinsurgency warfare has generally been greatly feared, and the drafting of counterinsurgency doctrine generally avoided. This is evident in the lack of any comprehensive approach to the subject, until recently, in virtually every army, including those that have had to deal with insurgencies on a regular basis. Since the invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition, various approaches has been tried, and, only with the publishing in December 2006 of U.S. Field Manual 3-24, has a new comprehensive doctrine for counterinsurgency operations been established. [The U.S. Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24] was penned under the supervision of General David Petreaus, an innovative American thinker, and, since January 2007, the Commander of Multinational Force Iraq. The inspiration for this field manual was a book written almost 50 years ago, after another counterinsurgency in another Muslim country. In 1963, at the urging of the RAND Corporation, Lieutenant Colonel David Galula, a French officer with extensive counterinsurgency experience, including two years in Algeria, wrote what was to become a personal account of his success in pacifying his area of responsibility… The Rand Corporation, in the hope that its lessons can be used in Iraq, has reissued Galula's book. Fifty years after being written, it has become enthusiastically embraced by an army seeking a way out of a quandary brought on partially, I believe, by its overconfidence in high technology weaponry. One may hope that this signals a new openness to ideas and opinions penned outside of America. But the lesson of the author is that pacification requires a long-term commitment and imagination. For the author, every war is a special case requiring a unique strategy. And anyone who thinks that they found a ‘quick fix' will have misunderstood David Galula's lesson."
- Canadian Military Journal, Winter 2007/2008
"To understand the new American military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan you could download a copy of the Army's counterinsurgency field manual, FM 3-24. Or you could read the elegant, entertaining books by French Lt. Col. David Galula that inspired Gen. David Petraeus in producing FM 3-24. Galula wrote 'Pacification in Algeria' in 1963 at the RAND Corporation, followed in 1964 by 'Counterinsurgency Warfare' at Harvard. Now, both have been reissued. 'Pacification' tracks Galula's two years as a company commander in Algeria and the development of his ideas about counterinsurgency into a successful formula soon adopted by the French force in Algeria… The questions Galula raises in the gripping 'Pacification' couldn't be more current. The French haven't won any wars in a long time, but they excel at theorizing about them… Now, practice is catching up with theory, both in Iraq, where American forces are leaving Forward Operating Bases for quarters in the cities, and in Afghanistan."
- Ann Marlowe, New York Post, April 29, 2007
"One of the important theorists of counterinsurgency was David Galula, who died in 1967. Galula was a French officer who studied insurgency while serving in a variety of posts in China, Communist-threatened Greece, and in Hong Kong during the French Indochina War. Galula's ideas have emerged as key elements of American counterinsurgency doctrine. His 'Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice' (Praeger, 1964) was one of the first texts used by Army officers in 2005 to come to grips with problems confronting them in Iraq. Far more impressive and readable, but less well known is Galula's 'Pacification in Algeria', written, at RAND's invitation, following his participation in a conference on counterinsurgency in 1962 on similar problems confronting the United States in Vietnam… The similarities between France's mistakes in Algeria and American performance in Iraq are striking… Galula's 'Pacification in Algeria' is an exciting story of the difficulties faced by a small-unit commander striving to succeed in a nebulous counterinsurgency environment. It is a story small-unit leaders in Iraq today will find quite familiar."
- Journal of Military History, October 2007