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Command Writes Doctrine on Counterinsurgency

Marine Corps Combat Development Command has created four new products dealing with counterinsurgency, which are now available online for viewing and judging.

By U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Travis J. Crewdson, Marine Corps Base Quantico

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., June 28, 2006 – Marine Corps Combat Development Command has created four new products dealing with counterinsurgency, which are now available online for viewing and judging.

Two of the items are concepts, and the others are doctrine, one of which was a joint project with the Army.All four products are in the form of a book or pamphlet. The version available now for most of these is only a draft that is open for comments and will then be edited and updated at a later time.

In the early 20th century, while assessing the nature of the anticipated conflict in the Pacific, the Marine Corps concluded that the United States could not afford the luxury of avoiding that which was incredibly difficult.

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Rather than avoiding the problem, the Navy-Marine Corps team attacked it. The result was a “Tentative Manual for Landing Operations” published in 1934. Acknowledging there was still much to learn, this manual was refined through numerous exercises and experiences until 1940.

This document provided a common framework for further exploration and refinement of the tactics, techniques and procedures that would be creatively – and successfully – applied on a global scale.

It was from this success that the first book of the four “Tentative Manual for Countering Irregular Threats: An Updated Approach to Counterinsurgency Operations,” was created. It is the in-depth version of concepts used in current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The title comes from the old landing manual. It is best for battalion commander and up or anyone with interest in capability and development of a unit, said Lt. Col. Lance McDaniel, one of the creators from the Concepts Branch of the Concepts and Plans Division of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

“The idea is that the concept isn’t done yet,” McDaniel said. “We will rewrite it as many times as we need to, in three months, six months, two years, whenever, we will write it again based on what we learn through experimentation and combat operations.”

The manual has a three month timeline before it is taken back into an editing stage for updating. The original project for this manual began in summer of 2005.

U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. James Mattis, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, appointed Col. Doug King, head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command’s joint coordination, to have his Marines create a concept manual for counterinsurgency.

McDaniel was tasked, used his experience from two tours in Iraq, along with U.S. Marine Maj. Farrell Sullivan, a coworker of McDaniel who has experience in Afghanistan. They worked with international officers at the war colleges and did their own research as well.

“We spent a lot of time at the library,” McDaniel said. “The manual was also successfully used in the Expeditionary Warrior 2006 wargaming. These are future concepts, but many of them are simple enough that they could be used in Iraq today.”

The second product is a 15-page pamphlet for external audiences, “The Comprehensive Approach to Countering Irregular Threats.” It a shorter version of the first manual, and it had less military terminology and more pictures. Any reader can understand and benefit from the manual, McDaniel said.

The third product is about 250 pages of doctrine, not concept. This joint product, “United States Army and United States Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual FMFM 3-24” is a rough draft with an aggressive deadline before it is to be updated.

FMFM 3-24 was born from a joint decision from Mattis and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the Combined Arms Center, the Army equivalent of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

The Army provided a lead editor and each chapter had an assigned Marine and soldier to work together to write it. With the help of the research the Marine Corps had already done for the manual in 2005, the project was completed in about seven months and has eight chapters plus appendices. Both services are scheduled to meet at Fort Leavenworth for revising in about 30 days.

“We believe even in draft form, it could be a utility today,” McDaniel said to encourage more people to read it hoping to increase feedback.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory Web site hosts the link to a fully viewable draft. McDaniel is the point of contact for corrections or general questions, but he said even compliments are helpful. Contact information for writers and editors is also included in the documents.

The last of the new products is the “Small-Unit Leaders’ Guide to Counterinsurgency,” a more practical how-to guide for counterinsurgency operations.

The guide, like the FMFM 3-24, is considered doctrine and will benefit someone at or below a company commander’s level best. McDaniel said this project will probably also end up as a joint product, but the concept manuals will remain service specific.

To view the documents, visit and look under the “What’s hot” section. Contact information is included in the materials, or comments can be brought to McDaniel at (703) 784-6605.

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