London, 23 February 2017:
Western militaries should heed the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, new book argues
Armed forces should observe the lessons of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will continue to be shaped by their experiences for years to come, according to a new book published by the IISS.
Harsh Lessons: Iraq, Afghanistan and the Changing Character of War analyses what United States and Western armed forces have learned from more than ten years of conflict in the Middle East.
Written by Brigadier (Retd) Ben Barry, who as a serving officer wrote the British Army’s report into the lessons learned from the Iraq War, Harsh Lessons shows how armed forces have evolved and adapted to the unforeseen challenges of ‘learning under fire’.
While much has been written about the mistakes made in the decision to go to war in Iraq, much less has been written on the military lessons and how these experiences of combat have changed Western militaries.
In the future, Barry argues, armed forces will have to work much more closely with aid and development organisations, as well as maintain their rediscovered counter-insurgency skills, to fight and win future intra-state conflicts. Armies will also have to pay far closer attention to the ‘battle of the narrative’ to counter enemy propaganda disseminated via social media.
General (Retd) Lord Richards, a former Chief of the Defence Staff, said: ‘Capturing lessons from past wars so we do not repeat the mistakes is something we are not good at. Before every future war let it be the norm for generals, and their political masters, to dust off [this] book.’
About the author
Brigadier (Retired) Ben Barry is the IISS Senior Fellow for Land Warfare and an expert on the higher management of defence, military strategy, operations and tactics, military innovation and adaptation, modern warfare and land warfare. He has operational service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the Middle East and Central Asia. Barry is the author of The Road from Sarajevo: British Military Operations in Bosnia, 1995–1996, and led the British Army’s analysis of the lessons of the post-conflict stabilisation of Iraq.
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About the International Institute for Strategic Studies:
The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is a world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict. Founded in 1958, the IISS promotes the development of sound policies that further global peace and security, and maintain 'civilised' international relations. The IISS is renowned for its extensive global research and publications including its annual assessment of the world’s armed forces (The Military Balance) and active armed conflicts (The Armed Conflict Survey and Armed Conflict Database), its leading annual assessment of global affairs, Strategic Survey: The Annual Review of World Affairs and seminal work on nuclear deterrence and arms control, as well as emerging geopolitical and geo-economic trends. The IISS is also renowned for its security summits, including the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue (The Asian Regional Security Summit) and IISS Manama Dialogue (The Middle East Regional Security Summit). The IISS has offices in London, Washington DC, Bahrain and Singapore.