Professor David Kilcullen

Professor of International & Political Studies
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
UNSW Canberra Cyber

Dr. David Kilcullen is a former soldier and diplomat, and a scholar of guerrilla warfare, terrorism, urbanisation and the future of conflict, who served 25 years for the Australian and United States governments. During the Iraq War, he served in Baghdad as a member of the Joint Strategic Assessment Team, then as Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor, Multi-National Force Iraq in 2007, before becoming Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2008. He was the U.S. State Department’s representative on the 2008 Lute Review of Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategy, and was lead author for the U.S. Government’s Counterinsurgency Handbook. In Afghanistan, he founded the ISAF Counterinsurgency Advisory Assistance Team in 2009, served as advisor to Commander ISAF, and was a senior research scientist on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Afghanistan country program.

Dr. Kilcullen has taught at universities and military colleges in the United States and Europe, making scholarly contributions to the theory of guerrilla warfare, insurgency and counterinsurgency, future conflict, human geography, urban studies, and fieldwork methods for conflict ethnography and remote observation. He is a distinguished graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy, where he was awarded the 1987 Chief of Defence Force Prize for the top Army graduate, and of the Australian Command and Staff College, where won the 2001 Commander-in-Chief’s Sword for the top graduate from all services, and the Commander Australian Theatre Award for excellence in Joint Operations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Politics and English from the University of New South Wales, a Masters of Management from the University of Canberra, a Graduate Diploma in Linguistics from the Australian Defence Force School of Languages, and a Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales.

Dr. Kilcullen was named one of the Foreign Policy Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2009. His books, The Accidental Guerrilla and Counterinsurgency, are used in several universities, as well as by policy-makers, the military, intelligence services and development agencies worldwide. His third book, Out of the Mountains, which examines conflict in the connected, coastal cities of the future, was awarded the 2013 American Publishers’ Association prize for Professional and Scholarly Excellence in Government and Politics. Accidental Guerrilla won the same prize in 2009 and was a Washington Post best-seller. His 2015 essay, Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State won the 2015 Walkley Award for long-form writing, and was published as a full-length book in 2016 by Oxford University Press.


Kilcullen D, 2020, The Dragons and the Snakes How the Rest Learned to Fight the West, Oxford University Press, USA

Davis D; Kilcullen D; Spencer D; Mills G, 2016, A Great Perhaps? Colombia: Conflict and Divergence, Hurst

Kilcullen D, 2016, Blood Year The Unraveling of Western Counterterrorism, Oxford University Press

Kilcullen D, 2015, Out of the Mountains The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla, Oxford University Press

Kilcullen D, 2015, Quarterly Essay 58: Blood Year Terror and the Islamic State, Black Inc.

Maley W; Schmeidl S; Kilcullen DJ; Stapleton BJ; Hoadley S; Saideman SM; Rietjens S; Khosa R; Grare F; Goodhand J; Ibrahimi N; Mohr J, 2014, Reconstructing Afghanistan: Civil-Military Experiences in Comparative Perspective, Maley W; Schmeidl S, (ed.), Routledge, London,

Kilcullen D; Mills G; Pham JP, 2013, Somalia: Fixing Africa's Most Failed State, Tafelberg, Johannesburg,

Kilcullen D, 2010, Counterinsurgency, Oxford University Press

Kilcullen D, 2009, The Accidental Guerrilla Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One, Oxford University Press

Book Chapters

Kilcullen D, 2020, 'A Military Perspective', in Frame T (ed.), INTERFET Lessons and Legacies from East Timor 20 Years on, Connor Court Publishing Pty Ltd, Redland Bay, QLD, pp. 94 - 105

Kilcullen D, 2020, 'Enhancing Special Operations for Sustained Counterterrorism Operations', in Bowman B (ed.), Defending Forward: Securing America by Projecting Military Power Abroad, FDD Press, Washington DC, pp. 93 - 93

Kilcullen D, 2019, 'Strategic Culture', in Mansoor PR; Murray W (ed.), The Culture of Military Organizations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 33 - 52,

Kilcullen D, 2019, 'Strategic culture', in The Culture of Military Organizations, pp. 33 - 52,

Kilcullen D, 2019, 'The Roles and Utility of Ground Forces in Counterinsurgency and Stability Operations', in NIDS MGJ (ed.), A New Strategic Environment and Roles of Ground Forces, National Institute of Defense Studies, Tokyo, pp. 69 - 78,

Kilcullen D, 2018, 'Geographies of irregular warfare', in Advances in Military Geosciences, pp. 103 - 108,

Pearson S; Holloway JL; Thackway R, 2018, 'Australian Contributions to Strategic and Military Geography Introduction', in Pearson S; Holloway JL; Thackway R (ed.), AUSTRALIAN CONTRIBUTIONS TO STRATEGIC AND MILITARY GEOGRAPHY, SPRINGER, pp. 1 - 11,

Kilcullen D, 2018, 'Geographies of Irregular Warfare', in Pearson S; Holloway J; Thackway R (ed.), Australian Contributions to Strategic and Military Geography, Springer Verlag, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 103 - 108,

Austin GD, 2018, 'Strategic Military Geographies in the South China Sea', in Pearson S; Holloway J; Thackway R (ed.), Australian Contributions to Strategic and Military Geography, edn. 1, Springer,

Kilcullen DJ, 2014, 'Fumbling the baton: US civil-military relations in the Afghan war', in Reconstructing Afghanistan: Civil-Military Experiences in Comparative Perspective, pp. 10 - 24,

Kilcullen D, 2012, 'Counterinsurgency: The State of a Controversial Art', in The Routledge Handbook of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency, Routledge, pp. 128 - 154

Kilcullen D, 2012, 'Taliban and Counter-Insurgency in Kunar', in Decoding the New Taliban, Hurst Publishers, pp. 231 - 246

Kilcullen DJ, 2011, 'Deiokes and the Taliban: Local governance, bottom-up state formation and the rule of law in counter-insurgency', in The Rule of Law in Afghanistan: Missing in Inaction, pp. 35 - 50,

Kilcullen D, 2010, 'Intelligence', in Understanding Counterinsurgency Doctrine, operations, and challenges, Routledge, pp. 141 - 159

Journal articles

Kilcullen D, 2020, 'Liminal Manoeuvre and Conceptual Envelopment: Russian and Chinese Non-Conventional Responses to Western Military Dominance since 1991', Journal of Future Conflict, vol. 1, pp. 1 - 14,

Kilcullen D, 2019, 'Feature Review: How to Defend Australia, by Hugh White', Australian Foreign Affairs, vol. 1, pp. 117 - 6,

Kilcullen D, 2019, 'The Evolution of Unconventional Warfare', Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies, vol. 2, pp. 61 - 71,

Kilcullen D, 2014, 'Afghanistan in 2024: Muddling through?', Stability, vol. 3,

Kilcullen D, 2011, 'Interview with David Kilcullen', International Review of the Red Cross, vol. 93, pp. 587 - 601,

Kilcullen D; Mills G; Oppenheimer J, 2011, 'The art of post-conflict economic recovery and reconstruction', RUSI Journal, vol. 156, pp. 100 - 107,

Kilcullen DJ, 2007, 'Australian Statecraft: The Challenge of Aligning Policy with Strategic Culture', SECURITY CHALLENGES, vol. 3, pp. 45 - 65,

Kilcullen DJ, 2007, 'Subversion and countersubversion in the campaign against terrorism in Europe', Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, vol. 30, pp. 647 - 666,

Kilcullen D, 2006, 'Counter-insurgency redux', Survival, vol. 48, pp. 111 - 130,

Kilcullen D, 2006, 'Globalisation and the development of Indonesian counterinsurgency tactics', International Journal of Phytoremediation, vol. 17, pp. 44 - 64,

Kilcullen DJ, 2005, 'Countering global insurgency', Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 28, pp. 597 - 617,


Kilcullen D; Rosenblatt N, 2020, The Tweet of Damocles: Lessons for U.S. Proxy Warfare, New America Foundation, Washington DC,

Kilcullen D; Rosenblatt N, 2019, How Raqqa Became the Capital of ISIS -- A Proxy Warfare Case Study, New America, Washington, D.C., 2,

Working Papers

Kilcullen D; Abasanjo O; Pinzón Bueno JC; Mills G; Hartley R; Hamukoma N; Calburn S; Doyle N; Games D; Muzenda A; van der Merwe E; Davis D, 2020, Where the Rubber Hits the Road - The Future Of African Cities, The Brenthurst Foundation, Johannesburg, South Africa, Special Report,,

Kilcullen D, 2019, Mombasa: Gateway to Africa, The Brenthurst Foundation, Johannesburg, South Africa, 07/2019,

Kilcullen D, 2019, Hargeisa, Somaliland – Invisible City, Brenthurst Foundation, Johannesburg, South Africa, DISCUSSION PAPER 4/2019,,