David Kilcullen was a senior advisor to General David Petraeus in 2007 and 2008, when he helped to design and monitor the Iraq War troop “surge”. He was then a special advisor for counterinsurgency to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. From 2005 to 2006, he was Chief Strategist in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the US State Department. He has also been an adviser to the British government, the Australian government, NATO and the International Security Assistance Force. He is a former Australian Army officer and the author of three acclaimed books: The Accidental Guerrilla, Counterinsurgency and Out of the Mountains.
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Last year was a “blood year” in the Middle East – massacres and fallen cities, collapsed and collapsing states, the unravelling of a decade of Western strategy. We saw the rise of ISIS, the splintering of government in Iraq, and foreign fighters – many from Europe, Australia and Africa – flowing into Syria at a rate ten times that during the height of the Iraq War. What went wrong?