David Kilcullen On The Age Of The Urban Guerrilla

In the wake of Nairobi’s terror, top counter-insurgency expert David Kilcullen looks at the age of the urban guerrilla.

Armed police from the General Service Unit take cover behind a wall during a bout of gunfire, outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Monday, Sept. 23, 2013. (AP)

Armed police from the General Service Unit take cover behind a wall during a bout of gunfire, outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Monday, Sept. 23, 2013. (AP)

Wartime makes sudden surges to prominence.  In the years of Iraq and Afghan war, Australian military man David Kilcullen rocketed to prominence in tip-top US power circles.  He was a top strategist at the elbow of General David Petraeus.  At the elbow of Condoleezza Rice.  At the heart of the Iraq surge and the Afghan struggle.  Now Kilcullen is looking onward.  Out of the mountains of Afghanistan and into exploding global cities.  Asking how they absorb billions more people and new conflicts without what we saw in Nairobi last week.  Up next On Point:  keeping the peace in the age of megacities.

— Tom Ashbrook


David Kilcullen, counter-insurgency expert and former soldier, diplomat, and policy adviser for the Australian and U.S. governments. Founder and CEO of Caerus Associates. His new book is “Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerilla.”

Mark Bowden, national correspondent for The Atlantic and bestselling author. Author of “Black Hawk Down” and “The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: Somali Militants Mixing Business and Terror — “Illicit ivory, kidnappings, piracy ransoms, smuggled charcoal, extorted payments from aid organizations and even fake charity drives pretending to collect money for the poor — the Shabab militant group has shifted from one illegal business to another, drawing money from East Africa’s underworld to finance attacks like the recent deadly siege at a Nairobi shopping mall.”

CNN: How Al-Shabaab picks its targets — “For Al-Shabaab, the mall was an attractive target because Westerners, including Americans, frequented it. The mall is also in the capital of Kenya, a country that Al-Shabaab has good reason to dislike, as the Kenyan military played a major role in handing their forces a defeat last year when they liberated the key Somali port of Kismayo from their control.”

The Guardian: Al-Shabaab will emerge stronger after Nairobi mall attack, warns analyst — “The Somalia-based Islamist group known as al-Shabaab will emerge stronger and more unified after its terrorist attack in Nairobi, and could provide other extreme groups with an example to follow, counter-insurgency analysts warned on Tuesday. Al-Shabaab’s message is that it is ‘down but not out’, it is ‘losing territory but not peopl'”, said David Kilcullen, a former adviser to David Petraeus, then US commander in Iraq, and of Nato forces in Afghanistan.”

Excerpt: ‘Out of the Mountains’ by David Kilcullen

Reprinted from Out of the Mountains by David Kilcullen with permission from Oxford University Press USA, ©by David Kilcullen, 2013.

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