British COIN: The Debate Continues

Dr. Andrew Mumford has released a monograph attacking what he view as the “myths” of British counterinsurgency as interpreted by American analysts–and in his view, some Brits themselves. However, history is a far from settled matter. The historians, soldiers, and analysts critiqued in Mumford’s monograph also are on the receiving end of a debate very much influenced by modern COIN campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan (much as Vietnam hung over discussion of nonrelated or tangential political-military subjects in that period).

The outcome of these inquiries may be more useful for the US than, say, the back-and-forth about Galula and French COIN. While Britain and the United States have vastly different strategic cultures, they are still closer together and thus a better reference point for Americans than continental powers. As Alexander Hamilton noted, Britain and America’s geography as maritime powers free from continental threats provided a space for liberal political culture and similar norms. Additionally, both have waged expeditionary COIN as offshore powers.

Perhaps a debate hosted by Kings of War would be very fruitful for the analytical community.


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