Recently the U.S. Army, with help from the Marine Corps, touted a significant counterinsurgeney (COIN) success. No, it was not an announcement of the extermination of another major terrorist as happened when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in an airstrike last summer. Nor was it about yet more debilitating air attacks against al Qaeda havens in Somalia.
Rather, it was the unveiling of the "new" COIN doctrine. Field Manual (FM) 3-24. With magazines such as Newsweek declaring it "The Book" on Iraq, it quickly became a public relations triumph for boots-on-the-ground advocates.
FM 3-24 does exploit the brilliance of respected warriors such as U.S. Army Colonels H. R. McMaster and Peter Mansoor, and other ground-force experts. It also effectively captures scores of lessons-learned from COIN history, and will surely prove invaluable in many future situations. Still, it is not the solution for the U.S. military in today's Iraq.