Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa: With E. D. Swinton's "The Defence of Duffer's Drift" , The
Author: Michael L. Burgoyne, Albert J. Marckwardt
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (2009)
Binding: Paperback, 178 pages
Following the invasion of Iraq in 2003 the U.S. military found itself in a battle with a lethal and adaptive insurgency, where the divisions between enemy and ally were ambiguous at best, and working with the local population was essential for day-to-day survival. From the lessons they learned during multiple tours of duty in Iraq, two American veterans have penned The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa, an instructional parable of counterinsurgency that addresses the myriad of difficulties associated with war in the postmodern era.
In this tactical primer based on the military classic The Defence of Duffer's Drift, a young officer deployed for the first time in Iraq receives ground-level lessons about urban combat, communications technology, and high-powered weaponry in an environment where policy meets reality. Over the course of six dreams, the inexperienced soldier fights the same battle again and again, learning each time--the hard way--which false assumptions and misconceptions he needs to discard in order to help his men avoid being killed or captured. As the protagonist struggles with his missions and grapples with the consequences of his mistakes, he develops a keen understanding of counterinsurgency fundamentals and the potential pitfalls of working with the native population.
Accompanied here by the original novella that inspired it, The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa offers an invaluable resource for cadets and junior military leaders seeking to master counterinsurgency warfare--as well as general readers seeking a deeper understanding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just as its predecessor has been a hallmark of military instruction, The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa will draw the road map for counterinsurgency in the postmodern world.
The Defense of JISR AL-DOREAA is a first person textbook account of lessons learned by an American lieutenant, commanding a platoon in combat, in Iraq. It is told thru a sequence of dreams, modeled on the format of the British military classic The Defense of Duffer's Drift, which in parallel progressions of dreams reveals the learning process of a young officer during the Boer War in South Africa during the time period 1899 - 1902.
The dreams of our modern day lieutenant are of missions that are taking place in his subconscious as he focuses on bringing all of his training to bear on the assignments that await him. He is laying out every possible mistake that he is capable of making by mentally acting out the looming events that will soon be reality, on the ground in combat. He anticipates the myriad issues that face small unit commanders in an urban, guerrilla environment, and tries to incorporate them into an instinctive leadership pattern. He painstakingly outlines each misstep, each unanticipated enemy action, and dozens of details that will mean the difference between success, and failure when the action is stark reality, and not in his mind. He finally gets it almost right, in his last dream mission, and highlights, with bullet points, everything that he has learned, and must do. The contrasting dreams of a young English officer a century ago accentuate the fact that nothing much has changed when it comes to young officers leading troops in combat.
The bullet points of experience that the author arrives at should serve as a checklist for every young officer entering combat in either of the two theaters where the American military is currently engaged. This book should be mandatory reading for all officer basic courses, advanced courses, and the war college, itself. It should be printed and laminated, and passed out to all. While battle plans seldom hold up when the enemy is met, basic procedures of operation are critical regardless of how engagements unfold. We have them here, poignantly loud, clear, and germane.
Reviewed by: Bob Flournoy (2010)