|Lt. Col. (res.)
David John Kilcullen
|Born||1967 (age 45–46)|
|Education||Ph.D. in Political Science, University of New South Wales@ADFA 2000|
|Alma mater||Royal Military College, Duntroon|
|Known for||Theory and practice of counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and conflict ethnography|
|Awards||United States Army Superior Civilian Service Medal|
David John Kilcullen is an Australian counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism theorist. During 2005-2006, he was Chief Strategist in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department. He was a senior counter-insurgency advisor to General David Petraeus in 2007-2008, where he helped design the Iraq War troop surge. He has been a Senior Fellow of the Center for a New American Security and an Adjunct Professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He has written two books, The Accidental Guerrilla in 2009 and Counterinsurgency in 2010. Currently he is the CEO of Caerus Associates, a strategy and design consulting firm.
After twelve months training in Indonesian, Kilcullen graduated from the Australian Defence Force School of Languages in 1993 with an Advanced Diploma in Applied Linguistics. He is fluent in Indonesian and partially fluent in Arabic and French.
Kilcullen completed a PhD in political science at the University of New South Wales. His thesis, entitled "The Political Consequences of Military Operations in Indonesia 1945-99: A Fieldwork Analysis of the Political Power-Diffusion Effects of Guerrilla Conflict," focused on the effects of guerrilla warfare on non-state political systems in traditional societies. He drew on ethnographic methods to research traditional systems of governance in East Timor and West Papua. His research centered on investigating power diffusion in Indonesia during the Darul Islam Era of 1948 to 1962 and the Indonesian Occupation of East Timor of 1974 to 1999. In it he argues that counter-insurgency operations, whether successful or not, cause the diffusion of political power from central to local leaders and that populations are the major actors in insurgency and counterinsurgency dynamics.
Australian military career
Kilcullen was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Australian Army and served in a number of operational, strategic, command, and staff positions in the Royal Australian Infantry Corps and Australian Defence Force. He served in several counter-insurgency and peacekeeping operations in East Timor, Bougainville, and the Middle East.
Kilcullen attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Australian Army and served as a Staff Officer in the Australian Defence Force Headquarters. In 2004, he became a Senior Analyst in the Australian Office of National Assessments, where he served on the writing team for the Australian Government's 2004 Terrorism White Paper, "Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia".
Kilcullen was seconded to the United States Department of State in mid-2005 and served as the Chief Strategist in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, and worked in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia. He then served as the Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He also helped design and implement the Regional Strategic Initiative, the principal doctrine for United States Foreign Policy countertorrism strategy.
In 2006 he was the Principal Author of Counterterrorism Strategy for the Quadrennial Defense Review in the Department of Defense. In 2006 he was also a principal contributor to the United States Army Counterinsurgency Handbook and Field Manual, authoring a chapter entitled "A Guide to Action".
In late 2006, Kilcullen was a member of a small group of civilian and military experts, including Colonel H. R. McMaster, who were seconded to the personal staff of General David Petraeus, the Commander of the Multi-National Force – Iraq. There, Kilcullen served as the Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor until 2008 and was responsible for planning and executing counterinsurgency strategy and operations and was a principal architect the Joint Campaign Plan which drove the Iraq War 2007 Troop Surge.
In 2008 he was a Member of the White House 2008 Review of Afghanistan and Pakistan Strategy. From 2009 to 2010 Kilcullen was the Counterinsurgency Adviser to the NATO and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.Kilcullen has also been an advisor to the British Government, the Australian Government, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the International Security Assistance Force and to several private sector institutions.
He is also a former Senior Fellow of the Center for a New American Security and a former Member of the Center for a New American Security Advisory Board. He is currently a Non-Resident Senior Fellow of the Center for a New American Security. He was a Partner at the Crumpton Group, but left due to moral and principled differences. He has been an Adjunct Professor of Security Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and is currently a staff member.
Contributions to counterinsurgency
Kilcullen's 2003 paper "Complex Warfighting" formed the basis for the Australian Army's future land operational concept, officially approved in 2005. It identifies the key drivers of modern conflict as globalization and anti-globalisation, and US conventional military dominance (which forces all potential opponents to adopt unconventional approaches). The paper describes the land conflict environment as being driven by four key factors: complexity, diversity, diffusion and lethality. The paper analyses the environment of contemporary conflict, in order to determine how land forces (the army and those elements of the navy and air force that support land operations) must operate in order to succeed in this environment. As mentioned above, the paper identifies the contemporary conflict environment as complex, diverse, diffuse and highly lethal.
Countering global insurgency
His 2004 paper "Countering Global Insurgency" proposed a new strategic approach to the global War on Terrorism. The paper argues that the strategy is best understood as a "global Islamic insurgency" initiated by a diffuse grouping of Islamist movements that seek to re-make Islam's role in the world order.
Kilcullen's 2006 paper "Counterinsurgency Redux" questions the relevance of classical counterinsurgency theory to modern conflict. It argues from field evidence gathered in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Horn of Africa that:
...today's insurgencies differ significantly from those of the 1960s. Insurgents may not be seeking to overthrow the state, may have no coherent strategy or may pursue a faith-based approach difficult to counter with traditional methods. There may be numerous competing insurgencies in one theatre, meaning that the counter-insurgent must control the overall environment rather than defeat a specific enemy. The actions of individuals and the propaganda effect of a subjective 'single narrative' may far outweigh practical progress, rendering counter-insurgency even more non-linear and unpredictable.
Kilcullen has argued in most of his works for a deeper cultural and linguistic understanding of the conflict environment, an approach he has called "'conflict ethnography': a deep, situation-specific understanding of the human, social and cultural dimensions of a conflict, understood not by analogy with some other conflict, but in its own terms." In May 2007 on the Small Wars Journal website he argued:
The bottom line is that no handbook relieves a professional counterinsurgent from the personal obligation to study, internalize and interpret the physical, human, informational and ideological setting in which the conflict takes place. Conflict ethnography is key; to borrow a literary term, there is no substitute for a "close reading" of the environment. But it is a reading that resides in no book, but around you; in the terrain, the people, their social and cultural institutions, the way they act and think. You have to be a participant observer. And the key is to see beyond the surface differences between our societies and these environments (of which religious orientation is one key element) to the deeper social and cultural drivers of conflict, drivers that locals would understand on their own terms.
Kilcullen's paper "Twenty-Eight Articles" is a practical guide for junior officers and non-commissioned officers engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is written as a response to T.E. Lawrence's "Twenty-Seven Articles" on how to begin and sustain an insurgency.
The paper's publication history is an illustration of new methods of knowledge propagation in the military-professional community. It first appeared as an e-mail that was widely circulated informally among U.S. Army and Marine officers in April 2006, and was subsequently published in Military Review in May 2006. Later versions of it were published in IoSphere and the Marine Corps Gazette, and it has been translated into Arabic, Russian, Pashtu and Spanish."Selected Publications by Dr. David Kilcullen". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 18 January 2013. It was later formalized as Annex A to FM 3-24, the US military's counterinsurgency doctrine, and is in use by the US, Australian, British, Canadian, Dutch, Iraqi and Afghan armies as a training document.
In 2010 he brought together his writings in Counterinsurgency and developed his understanding of the counterinsurgency to address what he calls the globalised threat of radical Islam. He argues that successful counterinsurgency is about out-governing the enemy and winning the adaptation battle to provide integrated measures to defeat insurgent tactics through political, administrative, military, economic, psychological and informational means. He sees the need for local people to act as the agents for post-conflict futures.
According to Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent, Kilcullen called the decision to invade Iraq "f*** stupid" and suggested that if policy-makers apply the manual's lessons, similar wars can be avoided in the future. "The biggest stupid idea," Kilcullen said, "was to invade Iraq in the first place."
Though, Kilcullen stated "I can categorically state that the word ‘fucking’ was said off the record". However, Kilcullen explained his comment the next day this way:
On Small Wars Journal, Dave writes a clarification of his views on the war that I’d like to quote...:
- ... in my view, the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was an extremely serious strategic error. But the task of the moment is not to cry over spilt milk, rather to help clean it up: a task in which the surge, the comprehensive counterinsurgency approach, and our troops on the ground are admirably succeeding. ... Anyone who knows me has been well aware of my position on Iraq for years. When I went to Iraq in 2007 (and on both previous occasions) it was to end the war, by suppressing the violence and defeating the insurgency. (Note: I said END the war, not abandon it half-way through, leaving the Iraqis to be slaughtered. When we invaded Iraq, we took on a moral and legal responsibility for its people's wellbeing. Regardless of anyone's position on the decision to invade, those obligations still stand and cannot be wished away merely because they have proven inconvenient). ... The question of whether we were right to invade Iraq is a fascinating debate for historians and politicians, and a valid issue for the American people to consider in an election year. As it happens, I think it was a mistake. But that is not my key concern. The issue for practitioners in the field is not to second-guess a decision from six years ago, but to get on with the job at hand which, I believe, is what both Americans and Iraqis expect of us. In that respect, the new strategy and tactics implemented in 2007, and which relied for their effectiveness on the extra troop numbers of the Surge, ARE succeeding and need to be supported.
In November 2009, Kilcullen told The Guardian that President Obama "risks a Suez-style debacle in Afghanistan if he fails to deploy enough extra troops and opts instead for a messy compromise." In the same interview, Kilcullen criticized Obama for taking so long to make a decision: "I do think, though, the policy process of this administration this year has been, shall we say, messy and this, the latest incident [leaked cables from Ambassador Karl Eikenberry to President Obama], underlines how messy it has been, and I think that is problematic. It sends a message of indecision and uncertainty which has an effect on allies, and has a huge effect on the British political debate and has huge impact on the Afghans."
On 6 March 2009, Kilcullen published a piece on smallwarsjournal.com titled "Accidental Guerrilla: Read Before Burning." The piece responded to Andrew Bacevich's review of Kilcullen's book, The Accidental Guerilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One, and also addressed his criticisms of American administrations. Kilcullen wrote:
... my views have been on the public record for years, since well before I came to work for the government and since before I served in the field in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They hired me anyway. And secondly, surprising as it may be, the last administration – just like the present administration – was big enough, open enough and intellectually honest enough to tolerate and, indeed, welcome constructive criticism and genuine attempts to fix policy problems. I never found that it needed much moral courage to be honest about my opinions – non-partisan honesty was exactly what Secretary Rice wanted from me, and she told me that more than once. The ability to tolerate and integrate different opinions, and thus to self-correct, is one of the foremost strengths of our form of government, and I suspect this is true of all administrations, though perhaps it is true of some more than others.
- The political consequences of military operations in Indonesia 1945-99. Australian Defence Forces Academy. 2000.
- "Rethinking the Basis of Infantry Close Combat". Australian Army Journal I (1): 29–40. June 2003.
- Complex Warfighting. Australian Army Future Land Operational Concept (FLOC). 2003.
- "Countering Global Insurgency". Small Wars Journal. 30 November 2004.
- "Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-level Counterinsurgency". Military Review 83 (3): 103–108. 2006. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- "Counterinsurgency Redux". Survival (International Institute of Strategic Studies) 48 (4). December 2006.
- "New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict". Countering the Terrorist Mentality. U.S. Department of State. May 2007.
"Selected Publications by Dr. David Kilcullen". Center for a New American Security.
"Dave Kilcullen". Small Wars Journal.
- The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One. New York: Oxford University Press. 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-536834-5.
- Counterinsurgency. New York: Oxford University Press. 2010. ISBN 978-0-19-973748-2.
- "David Kilcullen". EastWest Institute. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Sengupta, Kim (9 July 2009). "David Kilcullen: The Australian helping to shape a new Afghanistan strategy". The Independent. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- "Dr. David Kilcullen". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- "Counterinsurgency". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- "Dr. David Kilcullen". Caerus Associates. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- "David Kilcullen - Sunday Profile". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 December 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Packer, George (18 December 2006). "Knowing the Enemy". The New Yorker. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- Kilcullen, David J. (2000). "The political consequences of military operations in Indonesia 1945-99". Australian Defence Force Academy.
- Mark, Craig (September 2010). "Kilcullen and the Efficacy of Contemporary Counterinsurgency". Australian Political Science Association Conference 2010.
- D. Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla, p. 130.
- "Dr. David Kilcullen". Non-Resident Senior Fellow. Center for a New American Security.
- Rogin, Josh (17 February 2010). "Why did David Kilcullen leave the Crumpton Group?". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- "Strategic Studies-Faculty". Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- Kilcullen, David (12 May 2007), Religion and Insurgency, Small Wars Journal, retrieved 16 October 2011
- Kilcullen, David (2006). "Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-level Counterinsurgency". Military Review 83 (3): 103–108. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- Lawrence, T. E. (20 August 1917). "The 27 Articles of T.E. Lawrence". The Arab Bulletin. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- Lamb, Christina (11 March 2007). "Lawrence of Arabia takes on the Taliban". The Sunday Times (UK). Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency "Annex A" Retrieved 04SEP2011.
- Kilcullen, David (July 2010). Counterinsurgency. Scribe Publications. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-921640-34-6.
- Ackerman, Spencer (29 July 2008), "Sources Holler Back: Kilcullen Edition", The Washington Independent, retrieved 16 October 2011
- MacAskill, Ewen (12 November 2009). "Barack Obama 'risks Suez-like disaster' in Afghanistan, says key adviser". The Guardian.
- Kilcullen, David (6 March 2009). "Accidental Guerrilla: Read Before Burning". Small Wars Journal. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
- "Profile of Kilcullen". Center for a New American Security.
- Packer, George (18 December 2006). "Knowing the Enemy". The New Yorker. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- "Counterinsurgency and Irregular Warfare: Issues and Lessons Learned". Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services. 7 May 2009.
- Hayden, Tom (14 October 2009). "Kilcullen's Long War". The Nation. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- Kilcullen, David (27 July 2010). "Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee". U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
- Kilcullen, David (11 May 2011). "Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee". U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
- Appointment of Colonel Kilcullen to advisor of commander of Multinational Force Iraq David Howell Petraeus from The Sydney Morning Herald
- "Towards mercenary anthropology? The new US Army counterinsurgency manual FM 3-24 and the military-anthropology complex", Roberto J. González, Anthropology Today Vol 23, No 3 (June 2007) – critical of Kilcullen
- "Ethics, politics and non-state warfare: A response to González", David Kilcullen, Anthropology Today Vol 23, No 3 (June 2007) – Kilcullen's response
- "Strategist behind war gains", Rebecca Weisser, The Australian, 18 August 2007
- "A Visionary and a Practitioner: the Bernard Kouchner vs. David Kilcullen", Karina Paulina Marczuk, "Defence and Strategy", vol. 2/2007.
- Lecture by Kilcullen on The Accidental Guerilla at the Pritzker Military Library, June 2009.
- "The Accidental Guerrilla and the Deliberate Interventionist" by Michael Scheuer, 2009-04-15
- VIDEO David Kilcullen and Julian Burnside at the 2009 Melbourne Writers Festival on ABC FORA
- VIDEO Then-Major Kilcullen (holding handset) during contact with pro Indonesian forces on East Timor – Indonesia border, 10 October 1999.