Academic journal article Military Review

Counterinsurgency and the United States Marine Corps: Volume 1, the First Counterinsurgency Era, 1899-1945

Academic journal article Military Review

Counterinsurgency and the United States Marine Corps: Volume 1, the First Counterinsurgency Era, 1899-1945

Article excerpt

COUNTERINSURGENCY AND THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

Volume 1, The First Counterinsurgency Era, 1899-1945

Leo J. Daugherty III, MacFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, 2015, 412 pages

This work appears to be "straight history"' recounting events in the development of the U.S. Marine Corps as an institution. Leo Daugherty provides the expected chronology for marine interventions in the Philippines, Caribbean islands, Central America, and the Pacific. The historical narrative delivers sufficient political context for marine counterinsurgency (COIN) and related operations, accounts of institutional and field decisions, combat actions, and summaries of "lessons learned" in fine style.

Daugherty weaves three major interpretive threads into his factual account. The first is the evolution of the 1940 Small Wars Manual--considered by marines as the "bible" for irregular warfare. (It was not another instructional drill book.) The second was the transformation of education and training supporting marine warfighting generally, but COIN in particular. Foremost were the various Marine Corps schools, educating resident student officers to think in complex environments where "cookbook" solutions could not be had. The last thread deals with the emerging requirement for unique formations possessing special skills--Marine Raider and parachute battalions in the Pacific War--intended to fight behind enemy lines and employ lessons learned from years of conducting COIN in austere environments.

Of particular interest is Appendix A, A Creditable Position: James Carson Breckinridge and the Development of Marine Corps Schools," by Troy Elkins. It's clear why Daugherty included this piece, since education--not merely training--is indispensable to successful counterinsurgency.

Today's education imperatives reflect quite old requirements, such as Breckinridge's 1929 demand for greater critical thinking capability in military leaders. …

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