David Galula is considered by many to be the most influential classical thinker on modern military strategy. His work Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice continues to shape U.S. doctrine in the Middle East today. Praeger/ABC-CLIO is proud to announce the publication of Galula: The Life and Writings of the French Officer Who Defined the Art of Counterinsurgency. Through years of extensive research and exclusive access to Galula's personal papers, as well as first-hand accounts from colleagues and family members, author A.A. Cohen presents a definitive history of Galula's life and military career. In this excerpt from his book he discusses the continued legacy:
DAVID GALULA, whose name has become synonymous with counterinsurgency in the international military and diplomatic communities in recent years, lived a brief but extraordinary life. A soldier-intellectual through and through, he devoted his life to France, her army, and to “Western Democracy’s” struggle against totalitarian communist subversion. Graduating from Saint-Cyr military academy in 1940 at the age of twenty, he was rapidly immersed in France’s uninterrupted stream of conflicts until his retirement from active duty some twenty-three years later. In the five years that remained of his life, he would publish what has been hailed as one of the most significant doctrinal masterpieces of the twentieth century: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. He would also draft, during the same period, an illuminating report entitled Pacification in Algeria: 1956–1958 for the RAND Corporation. Though unavailable to the public until its declassification some four decades later, the report would come to perfectly complement his famous doctrinal work.
And that is certainly not all.
Galula’s life and career were, against all odds and despite humble official advancements, as rich as they were fascinating. His fate led him to become intimately associated with the significant events and personalities of his time. He exerted a level of influence through the roles he occupied—and especially through the friendships he established—that was well out of proportion to his modest rank. He owed his influence instead to an uncommon intelligence, a flair for human behavior and relations, and a profound sense of humanity. Combined, these traits would propel him to enter the top military, diplomatic, and academic spheres, even though in truth, he was never a perfect fit within any of these. His strength resided in his capacity to adapt, though often with blinding loyalty and zeal.
Galula took on the unabashed character of France’s famed Colonial Army turned Marine Corps, while remaining on its fringes throughout most of his career. He was a fantastic raconteur, as well as an able writer and orator. His wit, owed as much to genetics as to cultural background, endeared him to all who knew him on the four continents he came to call home. A quick read of the fictional publication he penned, The Tiger’s Whiskers, provides a first and undeniable element of proof. Despite the clinical detachment that one may glean from reading Counterinsurgency, the man, as shall be seen, was anything but emotionally detached from his work.