Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico


Dr. David H. Ucko, is professor of international security studies at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA), National Defense University. He serves as Chair of the War and Conflict Studies Department and as director of the Regional Defense Fellowship Program (RDFP). In this capacity, he oversees the delivery of the RDFP curriculum and the international outreach efforts to build a network of practitioners engaged with counter-terrorism, counterinsurgency, and irregular warfare.

Dr. Ucko’s research areas include political violence, irregular warfare, counterinsurgency, and war-to-peace transitions. He is the author of Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare (Columbia University Press, 2013), The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars (Georgetown University Press, 2009) and co-editor of Reintegrating Armed Groups after Conflict (Routledge, 2009). He has also published on the United Nations, NATO, countering violent extremism, and counterinsurgency in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Ucko is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches social movement theory and mobilization into terrorism, insurgency, and gangs. He serves as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, where for many years, as a program coordinator and research fellow, he oversaw the Conflict, Security & Development Research Group (CSDRG).

Prior to joining CISA, Dr. Ucko was a Transatlantic Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in Berlin, Germany, and at the RAND Corporation in Washington DC. From 2001-03 he worked as Deputy Defence Analyst (Armed Conflict) at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) office in London, where he helped create and develop the Armed Conflict Database.

Dr. Ucko obtained his Doctoral and Masters degrees at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, and his B.Sc. in International Relations at the London School of Economics & Political Science.


Research Interests

  • Irregular Warfare
  • Counterinsurgency
  • Political Violence
  • Strategy
  • Civil War



Authored and Edited Books

  • Crafting Strategy for Irregular Warfare: A Framework for Analysis and Action, w/ T. Marks (NDU Press, 2020).
  • Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare, w/ R. Egnell (Columbia UP, 2013).
  • The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars (Georgetown UP, 2009).
  • Reintegrating Armed Groups after Conflict: Politics, Violence and Transition, ed. w/ M. Berdal (Routledge, 2009).

Journal Articles

  • ‘Systems Failure: The US Way of Irregular Warfare’, Small Wars & Insurgencies 30, no. 1 (2019).
  • ‘Counterinsurgency as Armed Reform: The Political History of the Malayan Emergency’, Journal of Strategic Studies 42, nos. 3-4 (2019).
  • ‘Violence in Context: Mapping the Strategies and Operational Art of Irregular Warfare’, w/ T.Marks, Contemporary Security Policy 39, no. 2 (2018).
  • ‘Preventing violent extremism through the United Nations: the rise and fall of a good idea,’ International Affairs 94, no. 2 (2018).
  • ‘Can Limited Interventions Work? Lessons from Britain’s Success-Story in Sierra Leone’, Journal of Strategic Studies 39, nos 5-6 (2016).
  • ‘”The Peasants are Revolting”: An Anatomy of Authoritarian Counterinsurgency”, Journal of Strategic Studies 39, no. 1 (2016).
  • ‘The Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping Operations: Problems and Prospects’, w/ M. Berdal, RUSI Journal 60, no. 1 (2015).
  • ‘Critics Gone Wild: Counterinsurgency as the Root of All Evil’, Small Wars & Insurgencies 25, no. 1 (2014).
  • ‘Beyond Clear-Hold-Build: Rethinking Local-Level Counterinsurgency after Afghanistan‘, Contemporary Security Policy 34, no. 3 (2013).
  • ‘Counterinsurgency and its Discontents: Assessing the Value of a Divisive Concept’, SWP Research Paper 6, (2011).
  • ‘Peacebuilding After Afghanistan: Between Promise and Peril’, Contemporary Security Policy 31, no. 3 (2010).
  • ‘Lessons from Basra: The Future of British Counterinsurgency’, Survival 52, no. 4 (2010).

Book Chapters

  • ‘True to Form? Questioning the British Counterinsurgency’, in B. Heuser et al (eds), Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies: National Styles and Strategic Cultures (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2017)
  • ‘Whither Counterinsurgency: The Rise and Fall of a Divisive Concept’ in P. Rich and I. Duyvesteyn (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency (Routledge, 2012).
  • ‘Les Dilemmes de la Doctrine de Contre-Insurrection Américaine: Répétition, Pertinence et Effet‘, in G.H. Bricet des Vallons (ed), Faut-Il Brûler la Contre-Insurrection (Choiseul, 2010).
  • 'Whither NATO?', w/ M. Berdal, in S. Forman et al, (eds), Cooperating for Peace and Security (Cambridge UP, 2009).
  • ‘Militias, Tribes and Insurgents: The Challenge of Political Reintegration in Iraq’, in Berdal & Ucko (eds), Reintegrating Armed Groups after Conflict (Routledge, 2009).