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Book Review: The Accidental Guerrilla

David Kilcullen, formerly of the Australian Army, has written a treatise on a particular aspect of the War on Terror he calls the Accidental Guerrilla – the forces and actions that drive local populations into opposition to (instead of support of) US foreign policy, especially military operations.

At first I felt this was an interesting but marginally relevant book for a militiaman to read. But about a quarter of the way through it I saw the relevance, which comes from contemplating the possibility of military action on US soil in the wake of some future disaster/emergency/political upheaval/big ruckus. This is worth exploring, so much so that I will be buying a physical copy (I listened to the audiobook) and filling it with notes.

The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One, by David Kilcullen
Kilcullen examines two major and several minor situations where accidental guerrillas – as opposed to Taqfiri oriented permanent guerrillas such as bin Laden – appear. They are guerrillas local to a region who were not previously involved with the combatants, but take the non-American side because of either threats or developed opposition to US policy. He looks at Afghanistan and Iraq, but also examines smaller examples that are less covered by the media, such as East Timor, Thailand, and Europe.

You could call this a manual for anti-recruiting, as it goes into great detail on how American forces can turn locals to our favor. He makes it abundantly clear that the Iraq Campaign was ill-conceived and poorly thought out, but also rejects the proposition that it can just be abandoned. He is anti-war, but thoughtful enough to consider what the consequences of withdrawal are if we don’t create a government friendly to us at both the national and local level.

How is this relevant to the militia? If, in the extremely unfortunate event that a civil war is inaugurated by the government, all will be engaged in a guerrilla war, where the “ground” to be gained is the populace. The government will have to simultaneously make the populace feel secure, destroy the opposition, and not play into the argument of the militia – that the government is destroying the republic by destroying the rights of the people. They can, as far as I can tell, do only two of those.

Kilcullen’s work, while focused on foreign conflicts, presents some interesting thought exercises when his principles are directed towards a future war of Constitutional restoration. I’m putting it back in the pile, once I get a printed copy, which makes the current reading list consist of:

  1. Phantom Soldier: The Enemy’s Answer to U.S. Firepower
  2. Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman
  3. Resistance to Tyranny: A Primer
  4. Guerrilla Warfare by Che “capitalist t-shirt” Guevara
  5. War of the Flea by Robert Taber
  6. The Tiger’s Way by H. John Poole
  7. The IRA by Tim Pat Coogan
  8. The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One
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