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The Defense of
Jisr al-Doreaa


With E. D. Swinton's
"The Defence of Duffer's Drift"

By Michael L. Burgoyne and Albert J. Marckwardt
(University Of Chicago Press, 2009)

"When I was still a ROTC cadet or a very junior officer-I forget which-I read The Defence of Duffer's Drift for the first time. It really did not make that much of an impression on me then.

Now, around 40 years later and a lifetime of studying Counterinsurgency (COIN) and other Small Wars, I read it again in conjunction with Mike Burgoyne and Jim Marckwardt's update of E. D. Swinton's classic of British imperial warfare. These two (at the time) U.S. Army Captains have written a modern classic that not only ranks with its model but should be read alongside it, alternating chapters (dreams) from the one to the other.

The experiences of 2LT Phil Connors and Lieutenant Backsight Forethought share the commonality of learning from tactical mistakes that have strategic consequences. While their situations are different and B.F.'s approach to his human terrain would have spelled disaster for Connors, the requirement that Swinton, Burgoyne, and Marckwardt impose on their protagonists-to understand their operational environment-remains the essence of the junior officer's task in COIN and other Small Wars." -John T. Fishel, PhD, LTC (ret.), author of Uncomfortable Wars Revisited and The Savage Wars of Peace (John T. Fishel )

"Counterinsurgency (COIN) warfare is a complex and fluid endeavor that requires a way of warfighting that is different from the conventional methodology with which most civilians and recruits are familiar. This book by Michael Burgoyne and Albert Marckwardt allows the reader to learn what is required of soldiers in a COIN environment, from security measures, to application of force, the treatment of non-combatants, the value of cultural understanding, to dealing with Clausewitz's elements of friction and chance. The Defense of Jisr Al-Doreaa is a must read for any young soldier going in country or any civilian hoping to understand more thoroughly the challenges faced by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The work offers the opportunity to learn real lessons without having to experience them the hard way. Burgoyne and Marckwardt have done a marvelous job of making the lessons come alive and illustrating the need and value of informed, adaptive informed leadership."-Dr. Ed Coss, author of All for the King''s Shilling: The British Soldier under Wellington, 1808-1814 (Ed Coss )

"This is a terrific and illuminating piece of writing, one of the best things to come out of the Iraq war. It reads to me like a history of the conflict as it would be told by a smart American platoon leader. It should be in the rucksack of every soldier heading to Iraq, and also should be read by anyone who cares about this war. If you want to support our troops, buy it right now."-Thomas E. Ricks, author of FIASCO: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (Thomas E. Ricks ).

This book is available in Hardcover and Paperback editions.

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This review first appeared at Amazon and is republished in
Defense-Update as part of our affiliate program.