Isolating the Guerilla

The Vietnam was significant in that it was third bloodiest war in U.S. military history (58,000 U.S. killed) and the U.S. Army choose to learn no lessons from it !!! This last point is discussed in my book America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

In 1965 Trevor Dupuy’s HERO (Historical Evaluation Research Organization) conducted a three-volume study called “Isolating the Guerilla.” It was an interesting survey of 19 insurgencies that included on its research team 26 experts. This included General Geoffrey Lord Bourne (British Army, ret.), Andrew C. Janos, Peter Paret, among others.

These guys:,_Baron_Bourne


The first volume of the study, although developed from historical sources, was classified after it was completed. How does one classify a study that was developed from unclassified sources?

As such, the first volume of the study was in the classified safe at DMSI when I was there. I was aware of the study, but had never taken the time to look at it. DMSI went out of business in the early 1990s and all the classified material there was destroyed. The Dupuy Institute did not have a copy of this volume of the study.

In 2004 we did our casualty and duration estimate for Iraq. It was based upon a survey of 28 insurgencies. We then expanded that work to do an analysis based upon 89 insurgencies. This was done independently of our past work back in 1965, which I had never seen. This is detailed in my book America’s Modern Wars.

As this work was being completed I was contacted by a Lt. Colonel Michael F. Trevett in 2008. It turns out he had an unclassified copy of the study. He found it in the Ft. Huachuca library. It was declassified in 2004 and was also in DTIC. So, I finally got a copy of a study after we had almost completed our work on insurgencies. In retrospect, it would have been useful to have from the start. Again, another case of disappearing studies.

In 2011, Michael F. Trevett published the study as a book called Isolating the Guerrilla. The book is the study, with many of the appendices and supporting data removed at the request of the publisher. It was a self-publishing effort that was paid by Michael out of his personal/family funds. He has since left the Army. I did write the foreword to the book.

What can I say about this case? We did a study on insurgencies in 1965 that had some relevance to the wars we entered in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. It remained classified and buried in a library in Ft. Huachuca, Arizona and at DTIC. It was de-classified in 2004 and came back to light in 2008. This was through the effort of a single motivated Lt. Colonel who was willing to take the time and his own personal money to make it happen.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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