Best Practices in Counterinsurgency

Kalev I. Sepp, Ph.D.

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It is fashionable in some quarters to say that the problems in Southeast Asia are primarily political and economic rather than military. I do not agree. The essence of the problem in Vietnam is military.

—General Earle Wheeler, 19621

We can discern “best practices” common to successful counterinsurgencies by studying the past century’s insurgent wars. Historical analysis helps us understand the nature and continuities of insurgencies over time and in various cultural, political, and geographic settings. While this does not produce a template solution to civil wars and insurrections, the sum of these experiences, judiciously and appropriately applied, might help Iraq defeat its insurgency.

Nations on every continent have experienced or intervened in insurgencies. Not counting military coups and territorially defined civil wars, there are 17 insurgencies we can study closely and 36 others that include aspects we can consider. (See chart 1.) Assessment reveals which counterinsurgency practices were successful and which failed. A strategic victory does not validate all the victor’s operational and tactical methods or make them universally applicable, as America’s defeat in Vietnam and its success in El Salvador demonstrate. In both cases, “learning more from one’s mistakes than one’s achievements” is a valid axiom. If we were to combine all the successful operational practices from a century of counterinsurgent warfare, the summary would suggest a campaign outline to combat the insurgency in present-day Iraq. (See chart 2.)

Chart 1. Selected 20th-Century Insurgencies

Second Anglo-Boer War (United Kingdom [U.K.] vs. Boer separatists, 1899-1902).

Philippine Insurrection (United States [U.S.] vs. Filipino nationalists, 1899-1902 [1916]).

Arab Revolt (Ottoman Turkey vs. Arab rebels, 1916-1918).

Iraq 1920 (U.K. vs. Iraqi rebels, 1920).

China (Nationalist Party [KMT] vs. Communists, 1922-1949).

Nicaraguan Intervention (U.S. and Government of Nicaragua [GoN] vs. Sandinistas, 1925-1932).

France, World War II (Germany vs. French resistance and Special Operations Executive [SOE]/Office of Strategic Services [OSS], 1940-1945).

Balkans, World War II (Germany vs. Tito’s partisans and SOE/OSS, 1940-1945).

Greek Civil War (U.K., then U.S. and Government of Greece [GoG], vs. National Liberation Army [ELAS], 1944-1949).

Indonesian Revolt (Netherlands vs. Indonesian rebels, 1945-1949).

French Indochina (France vs. Viet Minh, 1945-1954).

Palestine (U.K. vs. Jewish separatists, 1945-1948).

Hukbalahap Rebellion (Philippine Islands [P.I.] vs. Hukbalahap, 1946-1954).

Uruguay (Uruguay vs. Tupamaros, 1963-1972).

Mozambique (Portugal vs. Front for the Liberation of Mozambique [FRELIMO], 1964-1974).

Colombian Civil War (U.S. and Government of Colombia [GoC] vs. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [FARC] and National Liberation Army [ELN], 1964-present).

Northern Ireland (U.K. vs. Irish Republican Army [IRA], 1968-present).

Weather Underground (WU) (U.S. vs. Students for a Democratic Society [SDS]/WU, Black Panthers, Sym-bionese Liberation Army [SLA] et al., 1968-1980).

Spain (Spain vs. Basque Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna [ETA] (Basque fatherland and liberty), 1968-present).

Oman (U.K. and Oman vs. Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arab Gulf [PFLOAG], 1969-1976).

Germany (Germany vs. Baader-Meinhof/Red Army Faction [RAF], 1970-1992).

Philippines (P.I. vs. New People’s Army [NPA] and Moro National Liberation Front [MNLF]/Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF], 1970-present).

Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka vs. Tamil New Tigers [TNT], 1972-present).

Palestine (Israel vs. Palestine Liberation Front [PLF] et al., 1973-present).

Malayan Emergency (U.K. vs. Malayan Communist Party [MPC]/Malayan Races Liberation Army [MRLA], 1948-1960).

Malayan Emergency (U.K. vs. Malayan Communist Party [MPC]/Malayan Races Liberation Army [MRLA], 1948-1960).

Kenyan Emergency (U.K. vs. Mau Mau, 1952-1956).


Algerian Revolt (France vs. National Liberation Front [FLN], 1954-1962).

Cyprus (U.K. vs. Ethniki Organosis Kyprios Agoniston [EOKA] (a Greek terrorist organization), 1954-1959).

Aden (U.K. and Aden vs. Yemeni insurgents, 1955-1967).

Cuban Revolution (Cuba’s Batista regime vs. Castro, 1956-1959).

France (France vs. Secret Army Organization [OAS], 1958-1962).

Venezuela (Venezuela vs. urban-based Armed Forces for National Liberation [FALN], 1958-1963).

Vietnam War (U.S. and Government of Vietnam [GoVN] vs. National Liberation Front [NLF] and Democratic People’s Republic of Vietnam [DPRVN], 1958-1975).

Guatemalan Civil War (Guatemala vs. Marxist rebels, 1961-1996).

Angola (Portugal vs. Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola [MPLA], 1961-1974).

Guinea-Bissau (Portugal vs.Marxist rebels, 1963-1974).

Rhodesia (Rhodesia vs. Zimbabwe African People’s Union [ZAPU] and Zimbabwe African National Union [ZANU], 1974-1980).

Western Sahara (Morocco vs. Western Sahara Freedom Movement [POLISARIO], 1975-1991).

Soviet-Afghan War (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [USSR] and Government of Afghanistan [GoA] vs. Mujahideen, 1979-1988).

Salvadoran Civil War (U.S. and Government of El Salvador [GoES] vs. Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front [FMLN], 1979-1991).

Senderista Insurgency (Peru vs. Sendero Lumi-noso, 1980-1995; vs. Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement [MRTA], 1996-1997).

Nicaragua (Frente Sandinista Deliberacion Nacional [FSLN] vs. National Guard [GN]/Contras, 1980-1990).

Kashmir (India vs. Kashmiri Muslim separatists, 1988-present).

Algeria (Algeria/National Liberation Front [FLN] vs. Islamic Salvation Front [FIS]/Armed Islamic Group [GIA], 1992-present).

Somalia Humanitarian Relief Mission (U.S. and UN vs. armed factions, 1992-1994).

Chechnya (Russia vs. Chechen separatists, 1994-present).

Nepal (Nepal vs. Maoists, 1996-present).

Afghanistan (U.S. and GoA vs. Taliban, 2001-present).

Iraq (Government of Iraq [GoI] and U.S.-led coalition vs. jihadists and insurgents, 2003-present).

Successful Operational Practices

The focus of all civil and military plans and operations must be on the center of gravity in any conflict—the country’s people and their belief in and support of their government. Winning their hearts and minds must be the objective of the government’s efforts.2 Because this is a policy objective, it must be directed by the country’s political leaders. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe pursued this course and gained broad support of the populace in the struggle against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and National Liberation Army narcoterrorists. His government is weakening the insurgents’ hold on their traditional zones of control and threatening their financial and recruiting base.3

Human rights. The security of the people must be assured as a basic need, along with food, water, shelter, health care, and a means of living. These are human rights, along with freedom of worship, access to education, and equal rights for women.4 The failure of counterinsurgencies and the root cause of the insurgencies themselves can often be traced to government disregard of these basic rights, as in Kuomintung, China; French Indochina; Batista’s Cuba; Somoza’s Nicaragua; and Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, among others. Recognition and assurance of these rights by the government has been essential to turning a population away from insurgents and their promises.

During the 1950s Malaya Emergency, British High Commissioner Sir Gerald Templer—a declared antiracist—strived for political and social equality of all Malays. He granted Malay citizenship en masse to over a million Indians and Chinese; required Britons to register as Malay citizens; elevated the public role of women; constructed schools, clinics, and police stations; electrified rural villages; continued a 700-percent increase in the number of police and military troops; and gave arms to militia guards to protect their own communities. In this environment, insurgent terrorism only drove the people further from the rebels and closer to the government.5

Law enforcement. Intelligence operations that help detect terrorist insurgents for arrest and prosecution are the single most important practice to protect a population from threats to its security. Honest, trained, robust police forces responsible for security can gather intelligence at the community level. Historically, robustness in wartime requires a ratio of 20 police and auxiliaries for each 1,000 civilians.6

In turn, an incorrupt, functioning judiciary must support the police. During a major urban insurgency from 1968 to 1973, the Venezuelan Government appointed the head of military intelligence as the senior police chief in Caracas. He centralized command of all Venezuelan police and reorganized, retrained, and reformed them. They fought and eventually defeated the terrorists.7

As necessary, military and paramilitary forces can support the police in the performance of their law-enforcement duties. From 1968 to 1972, Vietnamese police and intelligence services, with military support, carried out project Phung Hoang, arresting and trying over 18,000 members of the nationwide Viet Cong command and intelligence infrastructure.8

Population control. Insurgents rely on members of the population for concealment, sustenance, and recruits, so they must be isolated from the people by all means possible. Among the most effective means are such population-control measures as vehicle and personnel checkpoints and national identity cards. In Malaya, the requirement to carry an I.D. card with a photo and thumbprint forced the communists to abandon their original three-phase political-military strategy and caused divisive infighting among their leaders over how to respond to this effective population-control measure.9

Political process. Informational campaigns explain to the population what they can do to help their government make them secure from terrorist insurgents; encourage participation in the political process by voting in local and national elections; and convince insurgents they can best meet their personal interests and avoid the risk of imprisonment or death by reintegrating themselves into the population through amnesty, rehabilitation, or by simply not fighting. The Philippine Government’s psychological warfare branch was able to focus its messages on individual villages and specific Huk guerrilla bands because it employed locals and surrendered insurgents on its staffs.10

After the police and supporting forces secure a neighborhood, village, township, or infrastructure facility from terrorist insurgent activity, the government can apply resources to expand the secure area to an adjacent zone and expand the secure area again when that zone is completely secure. In Malaya, the government designated secure, contested, and enemy zones by white, gray, and black colors (a technique that mirrored that of the rebels) and promised rewards of services and aid to persons who helped purge an area of insurgents. Attaining the status of a secure “white zone,” with the attendant government benefits, was in the people’s best interest.11

Counterinsurgent warfare. Allied military forces and advisory teams, organized to support police forces and fight insurgents, can bolster security until indigenous security forces are competent to perform these tasks without allied assistance. In the U.S. Armed Forces, only the Special Forces (SF) are expressly organized and trained for counterinsurgent warfare and advising indigenous forces. During the 12-year-long Salvadoran Civil War, 25 SF field advisers and 30 staff advisers were the core of the effort that trained the 50,000-man Salvadoran Army that battled insurgents to a draw and forced them to accept a negotiated end to the war. In post-Taliban Afghanistan, SF detachments manage the operations of groups of hundreds of regular and paramilitary fighters. British and Australian Special Air Service regiments have similar creditable records because of long-term associations with the leaders and soldiers of the indigenous units they have trained.12

Chart 2. Successful and Unsuccessful Counterinsurgency Practices.


  • Emphasis on intelligence.
  • Focus on population, their needs, and security.
  • Secure areas established, expanded.
  • Insurgents isolated from population (population control).
  • Single authority (charismatic/dynamic leader).
  • Effective, pervasive psychological operations (PSYOP) campaigns.
  • Amnesty and rehabilitation for insurgents.
  • Police in lead; military supporting.
  • Police force expanded, diversified.
  • Conventional military forces reoriented for counterinsurgency.
  • Special Forces, advisers embedded with indigenous forces.
  • Insurgent sanctuaries denied.


  • Primacy of military direction of counterinsurgency.
  • Priority to “kill-capture” enemy, not on engaging population.
  • Battalion-size operations as the norm.
  • Military units concentrated on large bases for protection.
  • Special Forces focused on raiding.
  • Adviser effort a low priority in personnel assignment.
  • Building, training indigenous army in image of U.S. Army.
  • Peacetime government processes.
  • Open borders, airspace, coastlines.

Constant patrolling by government forces establishes an official presence that enhances security and builds confidence in the government. Patrolling is a basic tenet of policing, and in the last 100 years all successful counterinsurgencies have employed this fundamental security practice. Other more creative methods also have been used against insurgents, such as the infiltration of Mau Mau gangs in Kenya by British-trained “pseudo-gangs” posing as collaborators, a tactic also employed by the Filipino “Force X” against Huk guerrillas.13

Securing borders. Border crossings must be restricted to deny terrorist insurgents a sanctuary and to enhance national sovereignty. Police and military rapid-reaction units can respond to or spoil major insurgent attacks. Special-mission units can perform direct-action operations to rescue hostages, and select infantrymen can conduct raids. To seal off National Liberation Front bases in Tunisia, the French built a 320-kilometer-long barrier on the eastern Algerian border, and helicopter-borne infantry attacked guerrillas attempting to breach the barrier. The Morice Line completely stopped insurgent infiltration.14

Executive authority. Emergency conditions dictate that a government needs a single, fully empowered executive to direct and coordinate counterinsurgency efforts. Power-sharing among political bodies, while appropriate and necessary in peacetime, presents wartime vulnerabilities and gaps in coordination that insurgents can exploit. For example, one person—a civil servant with the rank of secretary of state—is responsible for all British Government political and military activity in Northern Ireland. In another example, in 1992, when Peru was on the verge of falling to the Shining Path insurgents, newly elected President Alberto Fujimori gave himself exceptional executive authority to fight terrorists. With overwhelming popular support, Fujimori unified the counterinsurgency effort and within 3 years wiped out the Maoists. In 1997, he crushed another violent insurgent group.15

The requirement for exceptional leadership during an internal war calls for a leader with dynamism and imagination. To ensure long-term success, this leader must remain in authority after the insurgency ends, while advisers continue to move the government and its agencies toward independence. Ramon Magsaysay, the civilian defense minister of the Philippines during the Hukbalahap insurrection, was renowned for his charisma, optimism, and persistence. His equally inspiring and energetic U.S. adviser, Major General Edward Lansdale, kept himself in the background throughout the war. Magsaysay’s and Lansdale’s personalities contributed as much to the success of the Filipino counterinsurgency as the programs they instituted.16 U.S. advisers James A. Van Fleet in Greece and Mark Hamilton in El Salvador likewise helped significantly in ending those countries’ wars.17

Operational Practices

Failed counterinsurgencies reveal unsuccessful operational practices. The American intervention in Vietnam and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan are examples of these malpractices. In the critical early periods of these wars, military staffs rather than civil governments guided operations, which were typified by large-unit sweeps that cleared but then abandoned communities and terrain. Emphasis was on killing and capturing enemy combatants rather than on engaging the population.18 In particular, Americans and Soviets employed massive artillery and aerial firepower with the intent to defeat enemy forces by attriting them to a point of collapse, an objective which was never reached.19

Indigenous regular armies, although fighting in their own country and more numerous than foreign forces, were subordinate to them. Conventional forces trained indigenous units in their image—with historically poor results.20 Special operations forces committed most of their units to raids and reconnaissance missions, with successful but narrow results. The Americans further marginalized their Special Forces by economy-of-force assignments to sparsely populated hinterlands.21 Later, Spetznaziki roamed the Afghan mountains at will but with little effect.

In the Republic of Vietnam, the Saigon Government’s leadership was unsettled. Leadership was unequally divided in the allied ranks between the U.S. Ambassador, the CIA Chief of Station, and the senior U.S. military commander.22 Impatience, masked as aggressiveness and “offensive-mindedness,” drove the Americans to apply counterinsurgency methods learned from conflicts in Greece and Malaya, but without taking into account the differences in the lands and people. The Americans also ignored the French experience in Indochina, particularly the general ineffectiveness of large-unit operations.23 Later, the Soviets did not consider the American experience in Vietnam when their occupation of Afghanistan became protracted. The Soviet command in Afghanistan was unified but wholly militarized, and the Afghan government they established was perfunctory.24

Disengagement from an unresolved counterinsurgency can doom an indigenous government. When the United States and the Soviet Union withdrew their forces from Vietnam and Afghanistan, the remaining indigenous governments were not vigorous or competent enough to maintain themselves without significant assistance. After the Soviet regime in Moscow fell, the Taliban readily deposed the puppet government in Kabul. In Vietnam, the U.S. Congress sharply curtailed military aid after the withdrawal of U.S. forces. With no other source of support, South Vietnam was vulnerable to the invasion from the North that deposed its regime.25

Over time, the Americans improved their counterinsurgency practices in Vietnam, which resulted in viable combined and interagency efforts such as the Vietnamese-led Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support; the Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense Groups and Provisional Reconnaissance Units; the U.S. Marine Corps Combined Action Platoons; and U.S. military adviser training and employment. These practices, and other Vietnamese-directed programs, came too late to overcome the early “Americanization” of the counterinsurgency and its initially military-dominant strategy focused on enemy forces rather than the Vietnamese people and their government.26

It is still possible for Iraqi and coalition governments to adopt proven counterinsurgency practices and abandon schemes that have no record of success. Any campaign plan to prosecute the counterinsurgency in Iraq should be submitted to a test of historical feasibility in addition to customary methods of analysis.


  1. GEN Earle W. Wheeler, speech at Fordham University, cited in Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1967), 426.
  2. U.S. President John Adams coined the term “hearts and minds” in his 1818 retrospective on the American Revolution.
  3. Presidency of the Republic/Ministry of Defence, Politica de Defensa y Seguridad Democratica (Democratic security and defense policy) (Bogota: Ministry of Defence, 2003); Tom Marks, “Colombian Military Support for ‘Democratic Security,’” conference paper, National Defense University, 7 January 2005. Marks earlier observed Bogotá’s one-time detachment from the war in Colombian Army Adaptation to FARC Insurgency (Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, 2002). See also Jay Cope, La Guerra de Colombia: Hacia una Nueva Estrategia (The Colombian war: Toward a new strategy) (Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 2002).
  4. United Nations, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III), 10 December 1948.
  5. See Malaya veteran BG Richard Clutterbuck’s analysis, The Long Long War (New York: Praeger, 1965), and the classic study by Robert G.K. Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency: The Lessons of Malaya and Vietnam (New York: Praeger, 1966). Excellent secondary sources are Anthony Short, The Communist Insurrection in Malaya (New York: Crane, Russak & Co., Inc., 1975), and John Cloake, Templer: Tiger of Malaya (London: Harrap, 1985).
  6. Bruce Hoffman, “Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq,” Washington, D.C., RAND Corp., June 2004.
  7. “The Urban Guerrilla,” Time (19 September 1969); James Kohl and John Litt, Urban Guerrilla Warfare in Latin America (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1974).
  8. The best study of these long-unresearched operations is Mark Moyar’s Phoenix and the Birds of Prey (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997).
  9. High-ranking insurgent defector Lam Swee revealed these divisions in My Accusation (Kuala Lampur: 1951).
  10. Huk War veteran Napoleon D. Valeriano and Charles T.R. Bohannan wrote Counter-Guerrilla Operations: The Philippine Experience (New York: Praeger, 1962) just after the rebellion was defeated.
  11. The American cultural anthropologist Lucian Pye did his highly-regarded research in Malaya during the height of the Emergency. See Guerrilla Communism in Malaya (NJ: Princeton University Press, 1956).
  12. For a historical survey of the British Special Air Service, see Tony Geraghty, Who Dares Wins: The Story of the Special Air Service, 1950-1980 (London: Arms and Armour Press, 1980).
  13. On the Kenyan Emergency, see United Kingdom General Headquarters, East Africa, A Handbook on Anti-Mau Mau Operations (Nairobi: The Government Printer, 1954), and Randall W. Heather, “Intelligence and Counterinsurgency in Kenya, 1952-56,” Intelligence and National Security 5, 3 (July 1990): 5-83. On the Hukbalahap Rebellion, see Uldarico S. Baclagon, Lessons from the Huk Campaign in the Philippines (Manila: M. Colcol, 1956).
  14. Alistair Horne describes the Morice Line in detail in A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 (New York: Viking, 1977).
  15. David Scott Palmer once shared a faculty office in Peru with Abimael Guzman, future leader of the Sendero Luminoso terrorists. See Palmer’s “Fujipopulism and Peru’s Progress,” Current History 95 (February 1996); Sally Bowen, El expediente Fujimori: Perú y su presidente, 1990-2000 (The Fujimori file: Peru and its president, 1990-2000), Peru Monitor, Lima, 2000; Nancy C. Llach, “Fujimori and his actions are widely endorsed, but Peruvians ultimately want democracy,” research memorandum, Office of Research, U.S. Information Agency, Washington, D.C., 1992; Charles D. Kenney, Fujimori’s Coup and the Breakdown of Democracy in Latin America (IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004).
  16. Edward G. Lansdale’s In the Midst of Wars: An American’s Mission to Southeast Asia (New York: Harper & Row, 1972) is illuminating, if self-serving, and not wholly credible. Lansdale was lionized as “Colonel Hillendale” by the pseudonymous William Lederer and Eugene Burdick in The Ugly American (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1958).
  17. In his autobiography (written with Clay Blair), GEN Omar Bradley lauded James A. Van Fleet for his performance in Greece. See A General’s Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983). See also Paul Braim, The Will to Win: The Life of General James A. Van Fleet (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001). Then-commander of U.S. Southern Command, GEN George A. Joulwan, like Bradley, credited COL (later MG) Mark Hamilton for bringing the Salvadoran war to its end. Interview by author, 11 August 1999. Transcripts from the author’s personal collection and from the unclassified transcripts of John A. Pitts, U.S. Southern Command, Commander in Chief, Oral Histories, Miami, Florida, 26 December 1991.
  18. In La Guerre Revolutionnaire (Modern warfare: A French view of coun-terinsurgency) (New York: Praeger, 1961), French soldier-author Roger Trinquier advocated a no-holds-barred approach to combating insurgency, including the use of torture. GEN Jacques Massu, the military commander of Algiers during the insurrection, evinced the same views in La Vraie Bataille d’Alger (The real battle of Algiers) (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1971). Massu, Trinquier, and their ilk were glorified in Jean Lartéguy’s novel The Centurions (London: Dutton, 1961). Using these methods, the French succeeded tactically, but failed strategically.
  19. On Vietnam, compare former North Vietnamese Army Colonel Bui Tin, From Enemy to Friend, trans. Nguyen Ngoc Bich (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2002), and William C. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976). On Afghanistan, see Mohammed Yousaf and Mark Adkin, The Bear Trap: Afghanistan’s Untold Story (Lahore, Pakistan: Jang, 1992).
  20. Then-LT Colin Powell recounts his tour as an adviser in Vietnam in My American Journey (New York: Ballantine, 1996). The definitive study of U.S. “army-building” in this era is in Ronald H. Spector’s Advice and Support: The Early Years of the U.S. Army in Vietnam 1941-1960 (New York: The Free Press, 1985).
  21. Francis J. Kelly, Center for Military History Publication 90-23, U.S. Army Special Forces 1961-1971 (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1985).
  22. Robert W. Komer, Bureaucracy Does Its Thing: Institutional Constraints on U.S.-GVN [Government of Vietnam] Performance in Vietnam (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1972).
  23. The Pentagon Papers: The Defense Department History of United States Decisionmaking on Vietnam (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971).
  24. The Russian General Staff, The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost, trans. and eds. Lester W. Grau and Michael Gress (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2002).
  25. The first and still arguably the best analysis of the U.S. Army’s defeat in Indochina is Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr., The Army and Vietnam (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986).
  26. William Colby with James McCargar, Lost Victory (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989); “The Johnson Administration and Pacification in Vietnam: The Robert Komer-William Leonhart Files, 1966-1968,” Vietnam War Research Collections, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin, Texas, University Publications of America, 1993. Vietnam veteran and scholar Lewis Sorley looks closely at the final years of conflict in A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 1999).


Kalev I. Sepp is an assistant professor at the Department of Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He received a B.A. from The Citadel, an M.M.A.S. from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. While on active duty, he served in various command and staff positions in the continental United States, Latin America, Korea, and Germany. He recently worked on the staff of the Multinational Force-Iraq in Baghdad. He is a co-author of “Weapon of Choice: Army Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan,” an official U.S. Army study of the first 6 months of that war.


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May-June 2005