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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 December 2006, 02:07 GMT
US releases anti-insurgency guide
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The US military has released a new manual on counter-insurgencies - its first guide on the topic for 20 years.

The manual, which draws on lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan, underlines the need for troops to do more than fight.

Critics have accused the US military of inflaming insurgencies by failing to gain the trust of local people.

The US military says the 282-page manual, which contains chapters on intelligence and ethics in war, fills "a doctrinal gap".

'Handshake or hand grenade'

The US's first post-9/11 counter-insurgency manual tackles intelligence, developing and carrying out strategies and boosting local security.

It's this part - nation-building, counter-insurgency - which is the hard stuff that we haven't trained for
Col Steve Boylan

The manual says it aims to prepare US soldiers and marines "to be greeted with a hand grenade or a handshake, and to respond appropriately to each".

A spokesman for the US Army's institutes of military education said the manual "codifies a lot of what's happening in the field already".

Col Steve Boylan said it reflected the changing nature of war, which goes beyond traditional fighting into reconstruction and nation-building.

US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have faced criticism for being heavy-handed and for sometimes failing to discriminate between insurgents and civilians.

"It's this part - nation-building, counter-insurgency - which is the hard stuff that we haven't trained for," Col Boylan said.

The guide, written with input from humanitarian agencies and media organisations, underlines the importance of integrating civilian and military activities.

"Political, social, and economic programmes are usually more valuable than conventional military operations in addressing the root causes of conflict and undermining an insurgency," it reads.

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