“Our intent with the conference was to seek a broad range of perspectives by bringing together a very diverse and experienced group of practitioners, academicians and theorists for a rich, full and rigorous dialogue about counterinsurgency,” said Lt. Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth. “We know it takes a very broad effort to ensure a level of success in counterinsurgency. The input from this conference will inform us about how to man, equip and train the Army to deal with counterinsurgencies now and in the future.”
Since its publication in 2006, FM 3-24/MCWP 3-33.5 has been one of the most widely read and oft-quoted field manuals by military leaders, academic scholars and policy makers. The manual’s principles and fundamentals have guided operational planning and actions at all echelons.
Conference participants included current and former battalion and brigade commanders, as well as key personnel from the Army’s centers of excellence, combat training centers, the U.S. Marine Corps, NATO, Canadian Armed Forces, Army Research Institute, U. S. Central Command, Brookings Institution, RAND Corporation, Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, King’s College London, the Air Command and Staff College, the Naval War College, the National Defense University, U.S. Army Special Operations Command/Special Warfare Center, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State.
The conference used panels and working groups to provide the framework for gathering new relevant comments for additions to and deletions from the revised manual. Panels reviewed issues, discussing what did not get included in the previous version of the manual that must be addressed in the revised manual, what needs to be changed, what definitions need to be added, and how the writing team can make the manual more reader-friendly.
Seven working groups examined various aspects of counterinsurgency, including the foundations of insurgency and counterinsurgency, measures of performance or success, and operating with other joint-interagency-multinational partners. The groups examined a variety of issues, built consensus on key topics, and briefed senior Army and Marine Corps leaders on their recommendations about how to address these issues in the revised field manual.
A subordinate organization of the Mission Command Center of Excellence, the Counterinsurgency Center began revising the manual seven months ago. Because FM 3-24 is a military publication, the military makes decisions on content, writing style and format. However, the Counterinsurgency Center has sought to engender a collaborative environment for the revision process that capitalizes on the collective experiences, intellect and expertise of practitioners, scholars and agency partners.
“The goal is to produce a field manual that captures enduring tactics and procedures to guide Army and Marine ground forces, integrated with joint-interagency-multinational partners, in conducting counterinsurgency operations against future irregular threats,” said Brig. Gen. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., MC CoE director. “It should be a document that any Soldier 10 years from now who has limited-to-no-counterinsurgency experience can pick up and use.”
The Counterinsurgency Center has conducted monthly webcasts open to the public throughout this phase of the revision process to gain feedback on key issues, such as the value of centrisms — population-centric vs. enemy-centric, for example. A dedicated writing team has also published issue papers about various counterinsurgency topics for discussion among senior officers, practitioners and theorists.
The conference was a final opportunity to capture lessons from Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines and other counterinsurgency conflicts before completing the initial draft of the revised manual for formal review and coordination.
“This revision of FM 3-24 needs to meet Marine Corps, Army and interagency needs for future complex counterinsurgency scenarios,” said Lt. Col. John Paganini, director of the Counterinsurgency Center. “Anyone can participate in the FM 3-24 revision process through the COIN revision website at http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/coin/FM3-24Revision.asp.”