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"The lessons from Major Stewart’s study provide a solid foundation for considering the challenges we will clearly face in the years ahead.


Our need to understand and work with people—from Southeast Asia to Africa to Latin America—will only grow in the decades ahead.


Striking a harmonic balance between engaging threats and making populations secure against them begins long before the outbreak of violence.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, inaugurated the Global War on Terror and introduced to the American vocabulary a number of new terms and places. Among these was of course Al Qaeda, the Taliban, bin Laden, Zarqawi.


Policymakers, the military, and the public often deemed the answer to these broad threats to be “counterterrorism,” a popular though necessarily broad term that mostly conjured images of direct, violent offensive strikes against an irregular enemy.


But as the United States and our allies found in Afghanistan and Iraq, our wars there ultimately required not just operations against enemy fighters, but more tedious, complex, wide-ranging struggles for the support of the population against roiling insurgencies.


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Description of Un-Winnable Wars: Finding Victory in the Ashes

Shortly after victory in total or “World Wars,” the “Victors” (and authors of most documented history), find themselves soon consumed by an “insurgency” riddled with unimaginable levels of complexity.

Historically, “Unconventional” warriors rise up to “Counter the Insurgency” often against great odds with limited funding, minimal leadership (with knowledge of tactics), and minimal support from the established “Conventional” leadership generally resisting change.

Un-Winnable Wars: Finding Victory in the Ashes, is an attempt to connect the author’s experience commanding in a Counterinsurgency War, together with the research, understanding, and application developed in the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College’s “Art of War” Fellowship Program.

Analysis of the following attempts that connection:

  • Past wars (up to Iraq and Afghanistan) and countries (such as Great Britain) that codified standing “unconventional forces” 50 years before the establishment of U.S. Special Forces.


  • The origin, development, and “codification” of U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam and their crucial contribution in developing the Civilian Irregular Defense Group during the Vietnam Conflict. 


  • The research of hundreds of historical case studies, many requiring the author to travel to Europe to obtain access, simultaneously conducting several hundred in-person oral history interviews from “Unconventional Forces” of various countries to be recorded, cataloged, and made available for future generations studying Counterinsurgency.


  • Subsequently providing analysis and assessment to the leadership to the author while he served under the Art of War Program to include General Stanley McChrystal, Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, and Dr. Daniel Marston.


The resulting knowledge in this book, along with other recent studies on unconventional conflict extends beyond the battlefield and military.

J.J. Thomas (Olympic Medalist) and Lucas Foster, U.S. Professional Snowboarders, highlight the similarities of mindset and application to that of the U.S. military (especially Special Operations Forces) based on recent connections to veterans.

Their contributions to this book in “developing, collaborating, and delivering this ‘Hard-fought Wisdom’” increases the chance to keep the knowledge relevant, alive, and not forgotten.

That contribution is significant for two reasons:

  • First, make the knowledge available for anyone in need of a “third-door” or “unconventional” solution to various situations and people, therefor offering relief to the often concern of a U.S. “Civilian-Military” divide.


  • Second, mitigate the need for another 26-year old Company Commander during counterinsurgency operations to lose 14 Rangers in a six-month period, only to realize the knowledge and answers to fight this type of battle was there all along. Still, the wisdom was rarely documented, available, or acknowledged by those who write history.

Next time you see a Professional Snowboarder, you might want to think about thanking him or her, for their service. Just a thought.


Rangers Lead the Way!!!!


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