University of Chicago Press Edition
The Evolution and Importance of Army / Marine Corps1 Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency
JOHN A. NAGL
Although there were lonely voices arguing that the Army needed to focus on counterinsurgency in the wake of the Cold War—Dan Bolger, Eliot Cohen, and Steve Metz chief among them—the sad fact is that when an insurgency began in Iraq in the late summer of 2003, the Army was unprepared to fight it. The American Army of 2003 was organized, designed, trained, and equipped to defeat another conventional army; indeed, it had no peer in that arena. It was, however, unprepared for an enemy who understood that it could not hope to defeat the U.S. Army on a conventional battlefield, and who therefore chose to wage war against America from the shadows.
The story of how the Army found itself less than ready to fight an insurgency goes back to the Army's unwillingness to internalize and build upon the lessons of Vietnam. Chief of Staff of the Army General Peter Schoomaker has written that in Vietnam, “The U.S. Army, predisposed to fight a conventional enemy that fought using conventional tactics, overpowered
1. Although the Marine Corps officially designates this document as “Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 3-33.5,” Marines mercifully tend to discuss it using the Army designation of “FM 3-24,” a convention that this Foreword will follow. One of the most remarkable aspects of this publication is the spirit of cooperation between America's ground forces it both benefited from and has accelerated. The more closely the Army and Marine Corps continue to cooperate, the stronger and safer the nation will be.