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Counterinsurgency blog war

Over at Abu Muqawama, a fashionable blog hangout for the COIN set, host Andrew Exum and his commenters dissect Col. Gian Gentile's recent article for ForeignPolicy.com, "Think Again: Counterinsurgency."

Exum takes issue with Gentile's argument that the U.S. Army has moved too far away from its traditional focus on warfighting:

You have got to be kidding me. Just look at the budget and where the money is being spent. Governing is budgeting. From the limited perspective of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan, I could see where Gian might be able to argue that we have embraced COIN whole-heartedly. (As well we should have, as those are counter-insurgency campaigns.) But there are two other services in the U.S. military against whom the U.S. Army and Marine Corps compete for budget share. And the Congress, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the defense contractors, the defense industry, and many within the uniformed officer corps of all services have interests in keeping the U.S. military focused on conventional warfare -- and the big, expensive, job-producing weapons systems needed to fight conventional warfare.

And Gentile fires back:

You know, I sit down at my little desk in my quarters along the banks of the Hudson opening up my WP Atlas Map Series to prep for my class on World War I and the eastern front, and BAM!! Brother AM throwing HEAT at me. OK, game-on, Let's see if I can hit the f...ing bull!

Read the whole thing, as they say.

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Morning Brief: Fragile peace returns to Gaza

Top Story

Israel has begun the rapid withdrawal of its military from Gaza, vowing to have all IDF troops out of the territory by Barack Obama's inauguration tomorrow. Fighting appears to have subsided. Israel says it plans to open Gaza's border crossings later on Monday to allow for humanitarian aid. 

More than 1,300 Gazans were killed in the three-week war, including 700 civilians, according to local medical officials. Gazan officials put the total repair bill at more than $1.9 billion.

Israel declared that it had accomplished its strategic objectives and vowed further action if rocket attacks on Israel continued. Hamas claimed a "popular victory" and vowed to immediately begin rearming itself

European and Arab leaders urged both parties to make the ceasefire permanent, though Saudi Arabia also warned Israel that peace between the two countries was not a guarantee.

U.S. Presidential Transition

Inauguration celebrations have kicked off in a very crowded Washington, D.C.

Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may disagree on how soon to roll back the Bush tax cuts.

The Washington Post's Walter Pincus lays out Hillary Clinton's priorities as secretary of state.

Asia

NATO's Secretary General blamed weak leadership for Afghanistan's lack of progress.

18 civilians were killed in clashes between government forces and rebels in Sri Lanka.

The second bird flu case of the year has been reported in China. 

Middle East

A prominent Sunni politician was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq.

Moqtada al-Sadr's followers are looking to gain back some influence in parliamentary elections later this month.

The U.S. and United Arab Emirates signed a nuclear cooperation agreement.

Africa

Southern African leaders are working to push Robert Mugabe to accept a power-sharing government in Zimbabwe.

Tutsi rebels in DR Congo will lay down their weapons.

The U.N. agreed in principle to a peacekeeping force in Somalia. 

Americas

Leftists seem likely to retake power in El Salvador's national elections.

Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez are already trading barbs. Chavez also ordered the use of tear gas against anti-government protesters on Saturday.

As the economy slows, more Americans are joining the military.

Europe

Ukraine and Russia have finally agreed on a price for gas shipments.

Germany's conservatives enjoyed an electoral victory on Sunday.

Turkey is renewing its push for EU membership.

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