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Know thy military: The Canadian Forces reading list

Kandahar, Afghanistan -- Canada's Parliament made its intentions very clear last year: We're not in Southern Afghanistan for the long haul.

"The government of Canada [will]notify NATO that Canada will end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011, and, as of that date, the redeployment of Canadian Forces troops out of Kandahar and their replacement by Afghan forces start as soon as possible, so that it will have been completed by December 2011," the motion reads.

(Note that the language of the motion is particular only to the Canadian military "presence" in "Kandahar" -- distinctions that may be important in coming months as the post-2011 future of the mission is debated.)

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In any event, just a few months later the military brass finally came up with its own counterinsurgency manual. The document, now public, reveals top generals had been putting down their weapons and picking up books -- a lot of books.

A partial list of the Canadian Forces' "suggested readings in counterinsurgency," follows below.

The upshot? Counterinsurgency (COIN, in military vernacular) ain't easy -- never was, never is, never will be.

And just because a country fears being drawn into a bloody quagmire, doesn't mean that it can't try to discern lessons from the bloody quagmires of ages past.

- Islam, Karen Armstrong (2002)

- Inside al-Qaeda, Rohan Gunarathna (2002)

- The War of Ideas: Jihad Against Democracy, Walid Phares (2007)

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- The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism (2001)

- The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujahedeen Tactics in the Soviet Afghanistan War, Colonel Jalali (2000)

- Revolt in the Desert, T.E. Lawrence (2004)

- History of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire,

- Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya, Caroline Elkins, (2005)

- Pacification in Algeria: 1956-1958, David Galula (2005)

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- The Irish War: The Hidden Conflict Between the IRA and British Intelligence, Tony Geraghty (2000)

- Fighting for Ireland? The Military Strategy of the IRA, M.L.R. Smith (1995)

- Strategy in Vietnam: The Marines and Revolutionary Warfare in I Corps, Michael Hennessy, (1997)

- Communist Revolutionary Warfare: From the Vietminh to Viet Cong, George Tanham, (1967)

- Defeating Communist Insurgency, The Lessons of Malaya and Vietnam, Sir Robert Thompson (2005)

- Counter-Guerrilla Operations: The Philippine Experience, Charles Bohannan (1962)

- COIN in a Test Tube: Analyzing the Success of the Regional Assistance Mission, Solomon Islands, Russell Glenn (2007)

- Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency Roger Trinquier (1964)

- War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History, Robert B. Asprey (1994)

- Mars Learning: The Marine Corps Development of Small Wars Doctrine 1915-1940, Keith Bickel (2001)

- U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1860-1941, Andrew Birtle (1998)

- U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1942-1976, Andrew Birtle (1998)

And so on. ...


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