Review A Few Bad Men by Maj. Fred Galvin, USMC (Ret.)


Formerly Known as Freefalling
SOF Support
Sep 8, 2006
Not Afghanistan
Wow, what a great book. Some of you may remember the 2007 ambush of an MSOC Company in Afghanistan. To try and summarize: a MARSOC unit was attacked by a VBIED and small arms fire; turret gunners in some vehicles returned fire. Afghans alleged the Marines killed or wounded dozens of civilians and that no Taliban were present. The investigation was atrocious with the word of Afghans forming the balance of the government's case.

Let that last sentence sink in.

A Court of Inquiry was held and the Marines were exonerated despite best efforts of current and future general officers.

A fantastic book with an enraging story. IF (big word) the book contains some bias the facts are those Marines were railroaded by their COC, including Army officers. Utterly disgraceful, but not surprising given the state of our commissioned officers today.
I read this after I saw the author's interview on youtube. It left me sour and disgruntled, and a stark reminder that at the end of the day for many senior leaders' "leadership" and having your guys' backs ain't part of the deal.
If I had to take one issue with the book it would be Maj. Galvin's view on COIN. He repeatedly blasts the concept of COIN and blames it as one of the underlying causes behind the treatment of he and his Marines.

COIN works, we didn't follow a true COIN strategy. We followed a flawed, if not broken, strategy authored by a guy (guys) with no experience in COIN or FID. This strategy/ policy was a bastardized COIN strategy relying heavily upon largely undertrained conventional forces.

Maj. Galvin also characterizes our involvement in Afghanistan from 2001-2006/2007 as keeping our foot on the Taliban's throat and the switch to a COIN strategy is what doomed the war. I reject this because of some things that we did or didn't do in 2005-2006 (and a big one in 2003) which allowed the Taliban's resurgence.

Beyond one man's minor gripes above? Fantastic book.