WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have jointly released their new counter-insurgency manual, the first in more than 20 years.
The manual is informed by recent experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines, but is meant to be a general approach to counter-insurgency campaigns, which are marked by small-unit military operations and non-kinetic campaigns to win the loyalty of local populations.
The manual emphasizes the need for commanders to be intellectually engaged and flexible, as focused on the softer elements of nation building as they are on fighting.
"Leaders at all levels must adjust their approach constantly, ensuring that their units are ready each day not just to kill or capture insurgents, but also to be nation builders as well as warriors, to help re-establish institutions and local security forces, to assist in the rebuilding of infrastructure and basic services, and to facilitate the establishment of local governance and the rule of law," the military stated Friday in a press release.
That said, there are basic approaches common to successful counter-insurgencies that commanders can adapt for their own circumstances.
"One cannot deal with former Saddamists or Islamic extremists the same way one would have fought the Viet Cong, the Moros, or the Tupamaros. Nonetheless, even today's highly adaptable insurgencies remain wars amongst the people, employ variations of standard themes, and adhere to some elements of a recognizable campaign plan," the military stated Friday.
The counter-insurgency manual is targeted at commanders at the battalion level and below, who in Iraq are carrying out the lion's share of the work and making critical strategic decisions on a daily basis.
A draft of the manual has been available on the Internet since the summer.