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December 04, 2009

They Don't Call COIN the "Graduate Level of War" for Nothing
Posted by Michael Cohen

I generally consider myself to be a somewhat intelligent guy, but looking at this picture about the inter-related dynamics of development in a counter-insurgency environment reminds me of trying to do pre-calculus in the 10th grade.

For anyone who thinks COIN can be easily embedded into the US military this presentation, which Richard Engel of NBC News uncovered from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should be sobering - or at the very least, a reminder that PowerPoint has a downside:

Snapshot 2009-12-04 11-27-59


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While the metaphor that COIN is the "graduate level" of war was briefly useful, Dave Maxwell's comments are absolutelyon the mark. Small Wars - by any name - are what we have done for most of our history and will likely continue to do most of. But, as he says, the real PhDs in war will be able to transition to BIG wars and back again without missing a step. The PhD in war will folow the Clausewitzian maxim of knowing the kind of war one is fighting and not mistaking it for something it is not.

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