Here’s another top-level smackdown: Gentile vs. Mansoor.
LTC Gian Gentile, who commanded an Army battalion in Baghdad in 2006, warns in World Politics Review that “hyper-emphasis” on counterinsurgency “puts the American Army in a perilous condition”:
Its ability to fight wars consisting of head-on battles using tanks and mechanized infantry is in danger of atrophy.
COL Peter Mansoor, unsurprisingly, thinks Gentile’s got it all wrong. In his rebuttal in SWJ he even gets personal:
Gentile’s battalion occupied Ameriyah, which in 2006 was an Al Qaeda safe-haven infested by Sunni insurgents and their Al Qaeda-Iraq allies. I’m certain that he and his soldiers did their best to combat these enemies and to protect the people in their area. But since his battalion lived at Forward Operating Base Falcon and commuted to the neighborhood, they could not accomplish their mission. The soldiers did not fail. The strategy did.
Good point, but what I actually would’ve wanted Mansoor to tackle is Gentile’s reading of Galula:
If Galula needed almost 18 months to succeed in northern Algeria, where conditions were much more suitable to a classic counterinsurgency campaign than today’s Iraq (a multi-sectarian landscape with many sides fighting each other), it is naïve to believe the American surge in Iraq could succeed in a matter of months.
Hard to argue against that.