A Question of Command (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Mark Moyar starts A Question of Command by pointing out that, before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, interest in counterinsurgency was based primarily on historical curiosity. The Vietnam War had persuaded most Americans to avoid such operations. Moyar was one of those curious historians, having interviewed Vietnam veterans about the Phoenix counterinsurgency operation for a book that appeared in 2008. (The veterans generally believed that South Vietnamese units were effective in counterinsurgency operations when they had capable leaders.) In the wake of September 11, counterinsurgency has become important again. One result of this development is Moyar’s own teaching position, which began a few years after the attacks.
For A Question of Command, Moyar selected a representative set of counterinsurgency operations to serve as lessons. From these and his earlier interviews, he draws the conclusion that success in counterinsurgency depends most strongly on leadership qualities. This conclusion contrasts with previous theories, which are generally oriented either toward networking or toward winning over the indigenous population with social reforms and democratization. Moyar emphasizes, though, that these tactics are useful only if performed by capable leaders. His book analyzes the nine example operations in detail to show how they support his thesis. They may have been chosen for this purpose, rather than as a truly...
(The entire section is 2096 words.)
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