1.5 Million Copies of COIN Doctrine Downloaded

AP’s John Milburn contacted me yesterday about the phenomenal interest in the new Army-Marine Counterinsurgency manual.

In three weeks – from its first posting Dec. 15 on the Web site of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth through Wednesday – an estimated 1.5 million copies of the 242-page manual have been downloaded. That compares with 1.4 million copies of John Grogan’s “Marley & Me,” the top-selling book of 2006, according Nielsen BookScan, which tracks sales.

The numbers are indeed staggering although, as I noted to Milburn, one wonders how many of those 1.5 million actually read it.

For once, I’ve managed to be interviewed in the press without being misquoted or taken out of context:

James Joyner, a former Army officer and security analyst in Washington, D.C., said there wasn’t much new in the manual that others hadn’t already suggested in fighting insurgencies or even postwar Germany and Japan.

“The military is slow to change. We’ve known since the end of the Cold War that we would be fighting these kinds of operations,” Joyner said. “I think the manual reflects changes that have already happened, rather than pushing change.”

The question is whether the doctrine will be followed in future missions, turning lessons identified into lessons learned.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.