A Question of Command

A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq

Yale University Press
October 2009

“It is rare to read a book which combines academic excellence with such timely advice on a question of national importance. Mark Moyar has achieved this in his penetrating examination of leadership…. His perceptive analysis will have enduring value on both sides of the Atlantic for military commanders, policy-makers and historians alike.” – General Sir David Richards, Chief of the General Staff, RUSI Journal

“Moyar’s study of Vietnam — Triumph Forsaken — is becoming a classic in counterinsurgency circles. His new case studies — A Question of Command — are making it to the desks of top military decision makers.” – George Stephanopoulos, ABC News

“By distancing himself from self-professed experts capable only of regurgitating thoughts and assertions made earlier and better by the counterinsurgency trinity of Sir Robert Thompson, General Sir Frank Kitson, and LtCol David Galula, Moyar has done the impossible and provided a third course of action to all counterinsurgency professionals and practitioners mired in the population-centric versus enemy-centric debate.” – Adam Strickland, Small Wars Journal

“has attracted considerable attention in counterinsurgent circles…. now part of the curriculum in courses in Kabul.” – C. J. Chivers, New York Times

“In this important, well-written, and solidly researched work, respected historian Moyar adds to his impressive record of publication a thoughtful contribution to the counterinsurgency debate…. There is so much that scholars, military personnel, and policy makers can learn from this study.” – J. B. Cook, Choice

“Moyar is a true pioneer in a field whose importance for national security has been accepted only reluctantly and belatedly by the American public. . . . Now we have a vastly improved roadmap for guidance. “ – John Tierney, Books and Culture

“an insightful revisionist look at counterinsurgency… essential reading for students of military history and anyone interested in what can be learned from the current fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.” – Library Journal

“Scholars are often dubious about new theories, so I thought I would ask those who have served in counterinsurgency environments for their reflections on the book. I pinged a few and heard back from various Army SOF and conventional force officers, Marine Corps officers, and general officers, all of whom have served in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and/or the Philippines and other small wars.  In summary, many members of the active duty U.S. military think highly of its arguments.” – Paula Broadwell, Kings of War

“Counterinsurgency warfare, as Mark Moyar demonstrates in his insightful historical study, is neither new nor unfathomable. Throughout the past, it fails when battlefield leaders do not understand the enemy and its methods, and succeeds only when officers can convince local populations why they are better off helping foreign troops than joining their own insurgents. Not high-tech weaponry, massive supply, or even training defeats insurgents. Only men – smart, brave, sensitive, and inquisitive officers – now and in the past, make the difference. Moyar offers a clear historical reminder of what defeats insurgencies at a time when most in the present age are sorely confused.” 
– Victor Davis Hanson

“One of the great mistakes we made after the Vietnam War was forgetting what we learned there. Mark Moyar has ensured that we don”t forget what we learned in Iraq over the last seven years-and has also re-captured lessons from earlier conflicts.” – Thomas E. Ricks

“Mark Moyar convincingly demonstrates that small unit leaders win counterinsurgencies. His chapter on Afghanistan is especially disturbing; I hope someone in authority is listening.” – Bing West