I don’t envy the Doctrine Men of the world: after all, putting together a comprehensive field manual on counterinsurgency is no small feat. And though the book has been subject to considerable criticism in the last few weeks, the authors of FM 3-24 should still be applauded for their efforts in codifying this new doctrine.
And while it’s true that mankind has thousands of years of experience combating–and fighting–insurgencies, each has its own particular flavor: from coup d’etats and popular uprisings to guerrilla campaigns and full-blown civil wars. Some counterinsurgents brutally crushed rebellions. Other counterinsurgents fought tenaciously, only to lose on the political front. Still others were resolved through political settlements. And sometimes, insurgencies just fizzle and die.
We do our best to compile doctrine, but we must also acknowledge the complexity of human conflict. No one book–and certainly, no one case study–can prepare us for the uncertainty of warfare and human interaction. There’s no “silver bullet” doctrine.