Counterinsurgency and the Iron Clad Law of Second Order Consequences

There are two rather over-used, if entirely accurate, rules in the UK Armed Forces. The first is von Moltke, the Elder’s maxim that “no plan ever survives contact with the enemy” (meaning be ready to adapt — and quickly — for every eventuality). The second is Dwight D Eisenhower’s observation that “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” These basic principles are inculcated into every military officer again and again.

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