Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 124

both played key roles in the Vietnam War. Of course, the author puts most of his effort into explaining why specialized training and education in the subject are so important, and his examples are compelling in justifying his point of view. Certainly leaders of both types of forces would benefit from a close read of Donovan’s Counterinsurgency. There will be those who will say that this book certainly seems to fit the mold of a classic work on counterinsurgency theory and practice, such as Roger Trinquier’s and David Galula’s famous treatises, as it too is founded on the experience of a lost counterinsurgency war.5 Why should we think we can gain something useful from the losing side? As Sun Tzu tells us, “Those unable to understand the dangers inherent in employing troops are equally unable to understand the advantageous ways of doing so.” Perhaps nothing is so instructive than learning lessons from one’s failure to overcome those dangers, from losing battles, even from losing wars. Therein lies the irony encapsulated in the title of Donovan’s book. We came, we saw, we learned, we lost, and then we forgot; it shouldn’t be this way. This is a work that deserves a place on professional military and U.S. foreign policy reading lists. First, it reinforces a respect for historical experience that can inform future readiness. Counter