April 30, 2007

MAKING TAKING SIDES MAKE SENSE:

FRENCH LESSONS: a review of PACIFICATION IN ALGERIA 1956-58 and COUNTERINSURGENCY WARFARE: THEORY AND PRACTICE
BY DAVID GALULA (Ann Marlowe, 4/29/07, NY Post)

Galula's big idea was simple: to place small numbers of the 100 soldiers under his command in isolated villages, living among the populace. His company was "spread over six posts with 10 to 15 men each." Galula's men supervised and funded the building of the area's first schools, first latrines, garbage pits and street cleaning in their villages.

The top brass didn't get it. An inspecting general complained, "Your posts are utterly useless, their strength is too small to allow a serious sortie against the guerrillas!" The generals were looking for body counts.

Galula "tried to explain that the very fact that I could disperse my company so much was proof of my success." He realized that the objective wasn't to kill terrorists so much as to create an environment in the civilian population where they could not find support.

Galula's practice mustn't be mistaken for the nonsense known as "winning hearts and minds," which suggests bribing the locals into obeying the laws of their own elected government. Galula restored the government's control over disputed areas and showed the locals that taking the government's side made sense.

"Pacification" also discusses in grainy detail such issues as the use of torture and the press' role in counterinsurgency. The Algerian war was the last major conflict fought just before the advent of television, but print journalism had an enormous influence on its conduct.

Happily, the U.S. Army has recognized Galula's insights.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2007 12:00 AM
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