How to fight insurgents? Lessons from the French
The Pentagon held a screening in 2003 of "The Battle of Algiers," a movie about French troops winning control of the Algerian capital. President Bush says that he recently read Alistair Horne's authoritative history on the war, "A Savage War of Peace." And last fall, Christopher Harmon, who teaches a course on the Algerian war at the Marine Corps University (MCU) in Washington, lectured marines in Iraq about the Algerian model.
Here in Algeria, some of those who participated in that war find little use in the comparison. But the US military - and the American public - continues to study the 1954-62 Algerian war of independence for lessons on how to fight the insurgency in Iraq.
"There are very, very few examples of modern insurgency, and for urban [insurgencies] it's basically this [war]," says Thomas X. Hammes, a US insurgency expert and author of a book on guerrilla warfare, "The Sling and the Stone."
While France ultimately withdrew from Algeria, "the French did much of the counterinsurgency very skillfully," says Mr. Harmon, who is the Kim T. Adamson Chair of Insurgency and Terrorism at MCU. "The American military has been intrigued by the case study for a long time ... it's a very good parallel."
comments powered by Disqus
- Rutgers historian Rudy Bell leads protest against Condoleezza Rice speaking at commencement
- Islamic history scholar Michael Cook wins Holberg Prize
- Prolific Alaskan Historian, Author, UAF Professor Claus-M. Naske Passes at Age 78
- Historian Fernando Prado on quest to find remains of Cervantes
- Historian shines a light on the dark heart of Australia's nationhood