Joshua Meservey on The Flechas: Insurgent Hunting in Eastern Angola

Atlantic Council Africa Center Assistant Director Joshua Meservey authored a book review of The Flechas: Insurgent Hunting in Eastern Angola, 1965-1974 for the forthcoming issue of the Journal of the Middle East and Africa.

20140904 jmeservey book review

“With the winding down of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Marines and Army have available personnel to send to other regions that have thus far been neglected: Africa beckons.” 

– Joshua Meservey

In his review, Meservey recounts the U.S. military’s increased engagement in Africa that consists primarily of training African militaries to counter non-state armed groups of the kind the Flechas battled in Angola. Meservey writes that the Flechas’ experience should remind policymakers of how important deep local knowledge is to fighting insurgency, and argues:

Africa is simply too vast and diverse for U.S. military personnel to develop an intimate understanding of a specific area. So as the military spends more time on the continent, the chances increase that its handicaps will lead to mistakes, some deadly. In lieu of…profound knowledge of an area, the story of the Flechas should reinforce in the military and the policymakers who direct them a sense of profound caution as it expands its engagement on the continent.