Accidental Guerrilla – Chapter 1

David Kilcullen is recognized as a preeminent counterinsurgency theorist and practitioner. He’s written a number of great books, including The Accidental Guerrilla, Out of the Mountains, and Counterinsurgency.

In this lecture, I draw from my notes and lessons learned on Chapter 1, which is titled The Accidental Guerrilla. This lecture is about 30 minutes long, and I’m going to try to do these chapter lectures in a bit more manageable length of 15-30 minutes.


Long form quotes in this lecture:

“‘[C]ombining direct combat with electronic, diplomatic, cyber, terrorist, proxy, economic, political, and propaganda tools to overload, deceive, and exhaust the U.S. ‘system of systems’”. (Unrestricted Warfare)

“Traditional societies across the world have experienced the corrosive effects of globalization on deeply held social, cultural, and religious identities — sparking violent antagonism to Western-led modernization and its preeminent symbol: perceived U.S. cultural and economic imperialism.” (Backlash Against Globalization)

“[T]he unprecedented scale and ambition of this insurgent movement and the unparalleled connectivity and aggregation effect it has achieved through access to the tools of globalization, renders many traditional counterinsurgency approaches ineffective.” (A Globalized Insurgency)

Soft power is “international reputation, moral authority, diplomatic weight, persuasive ability, cultural attractiveness, and strategic credibility”. (A Globalized Insurgency)

“[A] youth bulge, corrupt and oppressive governments, a dysfunctional relationship between the sexes that limits the productive roles to half the population, a deficit of democracy and freedom of expression, economies dependent on oil but unable to provide fulfilling employment to an increasingly educated but alienated young male population, and a generalized anomie and sense of being victimized by a vaguely-defined “West”.” (A Civil War Within Islam)

Islamic Way of War incorporates a “panoply of techniques employed to undercut the apparent advantages of high-tech conventional forces. The methods employed do include terrorism… but they also incorporate propaganda, subversion, popular agitation, economic warfare, and hit-and-run attacks on regular forces, either to induce an overreaction or to wear them down.” (Asymmetric Warfare)

“In short, what’s going on here? The answer to that question is dismayingly simple: the sun has set on the age of unquestioned Western military dominance. Bluntly, the East has solved the riddle of the Western Way of War.” (Asymmetric Warfare)

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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