Talk:David Kilcullen

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Questionable Author[edit]

Who actuually wrote this, the author is closey aligned or somehow trying to enhance this persons reputation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:02, 15 May 2008 (UTC)


Does anyone know from where he received his doctorate? This would seem to be vital information. OPen2737 01:14, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

According to the database at, it would appear to be the University of New South Wales, in 2000. The title was "The political consequences of military operations in Indonesia 1945-99 : a fieldwork analysis of the political power-diffusion effects of guerilla conflict" and it's at the Academy Library, University of NSW@ADFA. Bungo77 14:19, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
As our article on Australian Defence Force Academy says, it "is associated with the University of New South Wales, which is the awarding body for ADFA qualifications." (Nicely put.) So his PhD thesis is officially from UNSW, though presumably he worked on it at ADFA. Cheers, CWC 14:05, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

July 29 2011. I am adding to this discussion topic concerning the nature of DKs doctorate, in particular its discipline. I am the editor who has consistently replaced the description 'political anthropology' with 'politics'; this has been changed back so often (one suspects by DK himself -- there is certainly much to this article that smacks of self-aggrandizement) that I have now added a section to the piece that discusses his relationship to anthropology, highlighting media reports referring him to an 'anthropologist by training' and as holding a PhD in political anthropology, which he does not . There are some critical issues here -- the fact is that anthropologists (and their major research approach, ethnography) has been fashionable in military circles in the US, partly in conjunction with the US Army's development of the 'Human Terrain System' (HTS) as an adjunct to counterinsurgency strategy. Kilcullen has made a career as a counterinsurgency expert, and so it is hardly surprising that he might attempt to jump onto the anthropology bandwagon. HTS is enormously controversial within the discipline of anthropology throughout the world; the American Anthropological Association has urged anthropologists not to participate in this and related strategies linked to the counterinsurgency efforts of national armies. In the interests of clarity around these issues, and as a matter of fact and record, it is an important to maintain the point that Kilcullen is not himself an anthropologist, but rather holds a doctorate in politics. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:59, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

In order to say what you wish to say you need to find a reliable source that states that he (David Kilcullen) does not hold a PHD in whatever. Simply posting the requirements or the qualifications of someone else and leading the reader to imply that he doesn't have a PHD is synthesis. V7-sport (talk) 18:17, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
V7-sport is correct, that is a classic instance of implied synthesis. Beyond My Ken (talk) 22:56, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
I accept the point being made by the previous contributors, in terms of the constraints that apply to Wikipedia content. But I would like to emphasise that I am not suggesting DK does not have a PhD at all -- he does, just not in anthropology (political or otherwise). Reference to media reports does not constitute an adequate basis for a counter-assertion, as different sources refer to different kinds of PhD training.
(27 September) I would like to debate the point that Kilcullen does not have his Doctorate in political anthropology. The only factor that others have been using to contend this is that his PhD was awarded through the School of Politics at UNSW@ADFA. This does not automatically mean that his doctoral thesis was a work of political science. Indeed it clearly was an ethnographic thesis focusing on politics with multi-disciplinary fieldwork techniques. UNSW@ADFA did not and does not have a faculty in anthropology, and I am assuming that Kilcullen submitted his thesis to the School of Politics because he still wanted his doctorate. Doctorates are not like undergraduate degrees, that is the discipline title is not determined by the faculty or the school of where the thesis is submitted. In fact most academics gain their doctorates in sub disciplines that do not have any faculty at their university or institution - such as a PhD in biogeochemistry from a School of Earth Sciences. The University of New South Wales states in various newsletters he has his Doctorate in Political Anthropology [1], the Australian National University recognises his doctorate in political anthropology [2]. It should be recognised here that his PhD is in political anthropology. — Preceding unsigned comment added by EntropicPonderer (talkcontribs) 09:54, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

I'm sorry, EntropicPonderer but you are entirely wrong -- the disciplinary character of a PhD is indeed largely determined by the department (or school) in which the PhD thesis is submitted, alongside the disciplinary expertise of supervision and the disciplines of the thesis markers. The distinction you are trying to draw between subdisciplines and disciplines further undermines your argument: political anthropology is not a subdiscipline of Political Science, it is a subdiscipline of Anthropology. I draw your attention also to the fact that none of Kilcullen's supervisors were anthropologists, and that Kilcullen has published none of his work (including any papers drawing on his thesis) in anthropological journals, or indeed, presented any of his work at anthropology conferences. It is entirely incoherent to suggest that somehow Kilcullen conducted anthropological research through UNSW@ADFA and then submitted this to a Political Science department because, as you put it: "he still wanted his doctorate". Theses are not conducted like this -- he worked with chosen supervisors, in a chosen field. (And UNSW does in fact have an anthropology department -- why undertake a PhD through UNSW@ADFA if one's intention is to produce a scholarly work of anthropology?) The sources that you cite are, as you note, newsletters -- published by university media sections. They are no more definitive a source of academic credentials than a newspaper report by a journalist. They certainly cannot be said to constitute 'recognition', but rather, could well merely reproduce material published elsewhere, which reflect an erroneous claim. (I note that some journalists in quite reputable publications have also described Kilcullen as an Anthropologist). Simply adopting aspects of ethnographic techniques as part of a mixed methodology approach does not an anthropologist make -- educational sociologists also utilise ethnographic research methods; so do qualitative market researchers. By this logic you are essentially erasing the distinctiveness of disciplinary training in anthropology.

The simple facts are these: Kilcullen received no academic supervision or training from anthropologists; he did not submit his thesis in an anthropology department; his thesis was not marked by anthropologists; nor has any of his research received professional review by anthropologists as a result of publication in an anthropology journal. To my knowledge (and I am a professional academic and anthropologist of two decades standing) he is not a member of any anthropological professional association. Neither is he currently attached to an anthropology school or department. There is simply no basis on which to substantiate a claim to formal qualifications in a subdiscipline of Anthropology. By contrast many, if not all of these criteria are adequately fulfilled in regard to the discipline(s) of political science/international relations. If this Wikipedia entry wishes to note that Kilcullen 'claims' to be a political anthropologist, or 'claims' to have written a thesis in political anthropology, fair enough. But for accuracy's sake, the controversy/contestation must be noted. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:57, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Work needed[edit]

This article needs some work. For instance, the awards section has no links or explanations. The External Links section is badly formatted. And then there's the POV-pushing ...

I've made a start on "wikifying" the article, but much work remains. It would be really good if someone could find an official bio of Lt Col Kilcullen on the web. I tried googling for one, but just found lots of papers he's written. (If he were a full-time academic, that would be an impressive publications list ... and he would have a home page.) Cheers, CWC 21:12, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

If you were looking for his bio, the best one is at (talk) 02:01, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for that. I've just added it to the article. (I wish I'd noticed this comment a lot earlier.) CWC 15:21, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Retired? On Loan?[edit]

Can anyone clarify what his status with the Australian gov't is? Is he an Australian officer tasked to help the Americans? Is he a retired Australian working for the Americans? The last sentence of the first paragraph here states that he is "on loan" and I've heard other places state similarly. Shawn 02:14, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

HE is a retired Officer from Australia.
How many weeks or maybe days were his "tours" in Iraq and Afghanistan? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:55, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
  1. To answer's question, Dr Kilcullen was in Iraq for years.
  2. A recent Guardian article (see below) calls him a "former Australian army officer", so he is retired from the Aus Army.
  3. The same Guardian article says (emphasis added) that "he is based in an office outside Washington and has served in various capacities in the US government, including as an adviser to General David Petraeus, the overall US commander. He is coy about the extent of his involvement but, apart from paid consultancies, his views are regularly sought by senior figures at the Pentagon and elsewhere in the administration." Which is interesting, but hard to get anything encyclopedic out of.
CWC 15:14, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Guardian interview[edit]

The Guardian, a major English newspaper, interviewed DK recently. Their report is here. (He certainly lives up to Australians' reputation for blunt speech, doesn't he?) I've stuck a brief summary in the article, in with his description of the Iraq invasion as "fucking stupid"; I changed the section heading to "Controversies". Please regard this as a starting point and edit it into something good. Cheers, CWC 15:14, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Senate Testimony[edit]

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by John Kerry, had DK testify to them on 5-Feb-2009. We probably should mention that in this article. Can anyone find any news coverage of what he said? I checked the WaPo archives: nada. (We could use DK's blog post about the hearing, but a secondary source would be much better. BTW, I strongly recommend reading that blog post.)

(DK also provided testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, in April 2009.)

Cheers, CWC 15:55, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

  1. ^
  2. ^