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Three-Block Four-Block War: Selected Resources

updated 22 Jun 08


It's been a while since this collection was first suggested , but I've done a bit of digging into the idea of the 'Three Block War' as first laid out by General Charles Krulak USMC in his seminal 1999 work,   'The Strategic Corporal: Leadership in the Three Block War'. Even the Canadian military picked up on this concept  here, in  mainstream media coverage as well as  the CF military media. In light of continued interest, I'm continuing to dig up and post a bit of information on the idea and what's been written, pro and con. This page will be updated periodically, and I'm slowly trying to provide permalinks to material by creating .pdfs of the material and making these available for the time when the original links no longer work.  Any open source material you think is worth including is ALWAYS welcome - e-mail me at  tony (at) .



Canadian Counterinsurgency Manual

Alternative Media Pick on New COIN Manual - Aboriginals Don't Like Being Referenced in Pam - More - more - CF Says Aboriginal Organizations Won't be in Final - More - Counterpoint - Let's Keep This in Context - How The Media Got it Wrong - Discussion - Draft Manual (12MB .pdf)




Wikipedia:  Three Block War

Canadian Forces' "Crisis in Zefra" (sci-fi case study of future three-block war scenario)

Gen. Charles C. Krulak, "The Strategic Corporal: Leadership in the Three Block War," Marines Magazine, January 1999 - .pdf version

'Three Block Wars and Humanitarianism: Theory, Policy, Practice', Sarah Jane Meharg Ph.D. and Ryan T. Marks, Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, 31 Jan 07 (77pg 1.4MB .pdf) - Alternate link (1)Alternate Link (2)

'Cultivating Intuitive Decisionmaking', Gen. Charles C. Krulak, Marine Corps Gazette, May 1999

Blog Vignette of the Three Blocks

Generals 'Muscling In' on the Corporals' War? - .pdf version (.pdf)

BBC's Take on the Approach

'Beyond the 3-block war' - Four Block War Coming?Three-Block + Info Ops = Four-Block War/Hybrid WarHow USMC is Prepping for Hybrid War - More

Lieutenant General James N. Mattis, USMC, and Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hoffman, USMCR (Ret.).  "Future Warfare: The Rise of Hybrid Wars", US Naval Institute Proceedings, November 2005. (.pdf) - Old link to NGCSU Leadership web page (thanks to - .pdf version

“From Three to One - Rethinking the ‘Three-Block War’ and Humanitarian Operations in Combat”, Dr. Reuben E. Brigety II, American University, JOINT SERVICES CONFERENCE ON PROFESSIONAL ETHICS, 2004 - .pdf version

Peters, Ralph.  "12 Myths of 21st-Century War," American Legion Magazine, November 2007 - .pdf version

"Fourth Generation Warfare,"  Defense in the National Interest (DNI) web page, 5 May 07 - .pdf version - Part 2 - .pdf version

"Light Infantry," DNI, Draft of 25 October 2007 (.pdf)

Max Boot, "The Corps should look to its small-wars past," Armed Forces Journal, Volume 3, 2006 - .pdf permalink

Michael Fitzsimmons, 'Hard Hearts and Open Minds? Governance, Identity and the Intellectual Foundations of Counterinsurgency Strategy', Journal of Strategic Studies, Volume 31, Issue 3 June 2008, pages 337 - 365 (.pdf)



Afghanistan ( News from Afghanistan)

Captain Daniel Helmer, "Twelve Urgent Steps For The Advisor Mission In Afghanistan", Military Review / United States Army Combined Arms Command, July-August 2008 (pdf permalink)


Seth G. Jones, "Improving U.S. Counterinsurgency Operations: Lessons Learned from Afghanistan", Rand Corporation Research Brief, 9 June 2008 (.pdf permalink)


"Afghan Hearts, Afghan Minds: Exploring Afghan perceptions of civil-military relations", European Network of NGOs on Afghanistan & the British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group, 11 June 2008 (.pdf permalink)


"Strategic Agility for 21st Century Challenges - Interagency Lessons from Provincial Reconstruction Teams", Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 19 June 2008 (.mp3 audio)


Colonel John Frewen, 'Contested Nation-Building: The Challenge of Countering Insurgency in Afghanistan in 2007,' Australian Army Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Autumn 2008): 19-27


Lieutenant-Colonel Michel-Henri St-Louis, CD, 'A Comprehensive Approach To Stability The Strategic Advisory Team In Afghanistan', The Canadian Army Journal, Volume 10 Number 4, Winter 2008


Captain Nils N. French, 'Learning From The Seven Soviet Wars: Lessons For Canada In Afghanistan', The Canadian Army Journal, Volume 10 Number 4, Winter 2008


Major Jason T. Adair, 'Learning On The Run: Company Level Counter-Insurgency In Afghanistan', The Canadian Army Journal, Volume 10 Number 4, Winter 2008


Collins, Joseph J.  "Afghanistan: Winning A Three Block War," Journal of Conflict Studies, Vol. XXIV, No. 2, Winter 2004.  (Very special thanks to Professor Collins for a copy of this article.) (.pdf)


Donald F. Thompson, 'The Role of Medical Diplomacy in Stabilizing Afghanistan', Center for Technology and National Security Policy / National Defense University, May 2008


'Security – Stability – Support - A campaign to reconnect with the citizens of Kabul', CF Web Page, July 2005 - .pdf version (.pdf)


'The Three-Block War', Legion Magazine, Jan/Feb 2006 - .pdf version


'Warfighters, Not Missionaries - The origins of the three-block war', Jon Elmer,, 1 Nov 06 - Permalink (.pdf)


Anti-war analysis of Three Block War/AFG campaign, Students Coalition Against War (.pdf)




'Winning the 'Three-Block War' in Baghdad', 5 Oct 03 - version - .pdf version

The Marines' Three-Block War in Iraq, 28 Oct 03 - .pdf version

Another View of the Three Blocks in Iraq - .pdf version

'Navigating the Three-Block War and the Urban Triad', Mark Burgess, Center for Defense Information, 4 Apr 03 - .pdf version



Links Between 3 Block War, Network Centric Warfare

Where the Strategic Corporal Meets Network Centric Warfare (.pdf) - Alternate .pdf location

And What, Exactly, Is Network Centric Warfare? (.pdf) - Wikipedia version

"The Seven Deadly Sins of Network-Centric Warfare" - .pdf version



Other Resources

Urban Warfare Simulation Game

U.S.M.C. Small Wars Centre of Excellence

USA's Small Wars:  Past - Present

UK's Small Wars



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