Beyond Guns and Steel
A War Termination Strategy
by Dominic J. Caraccilo
January 2011, 219pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39149-1
$55, £41, 48€, A75
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39150-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Four times in the last century, the United States has come to the end of a major war, but instead of developing a war termination or exit strategy or a postwar reconstruction strategy, we went on to the next conflict, ignoring the results of the previous foray. Is there a better methodology—a way to successfully “win the peace?”

This work is a doctrinal examination of war termination strategy and conflict resolution as a dependent pair, requiring a plan to achieve both in unison in advance of a fight.

The necessity of a plan for conflict resolution should be intuitively obvious for policymakers, yet a survey of recent conflicts, including Afghanistan and Iraq, shows that not to be the case. Beyond Guns and Steel: A War Termination Strategy provides a practical approach to establishing a plan for war termination and conflict resolution before the bullets fly.

In explaining the difference between strategy and policy, Colonel Dominic J. Caraccilo clarifies the most important, and often the most constraining, element of a nation’s power—its resources. He posits that termination strategy and conflict resolution are interdependent and need to be included in conflict plans from the outset. Caraccilo’s book fills a void in current strategy for the development of long-term plans that bring conflicts to timely and acceptable conclusions, providing a methodology that allows interagency requirements and resources for war termination to be defined, allocated, and employed effectively.


  • Examples taken from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with models of war termination successes and failures to enhance the understanding of scenarios for possible resolution
  • A full array of definitions offering clarity for the reader seeking to grasp the book's methodology for war termination
  • Primary source documentation related to the author's seven combat deployments to the Middle East and over five years of personal involvement in combat and its aftermath.
  • Vignettes from history dating from the Revolutionary War to the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • Sidebars offering relevant charts, graphs, and newspaper articles
  • Examples of conflict resolution to enhance an understanding of war termination outcomes
  • Firsthand accounts from various military officers in the form of Staff College manuscripts
  • A robust listing of books, interviews, documents, and articles on war termination and conflict resolution theories
Colonel Dominic J. Caraccilo is an active duty army officer with over 26 years of service commanding at the company, battalion, and brigade levels in combat in Iraq. Colonel Caraccilo has also served as the executive officer for General Ray Odierno in Baghdad, as an operations officer for a multinational division in Northern Iraq, and with the U.S. Army Rangers in Afghanistan. He holds a BS from West Point, a MEng from Cornell University, and an MA from the Naval War College and has published numerous books.


"This book is one of the very best starting points for any serious student of the art of conflict resolution, and it deserves—and will no doubt receive—a place in the curricula of the U.S. military's senior service schools for years to come."—Military Review, November 1, 2011

"Beyond Guns and Steel should be required reading in our nation’s war colleges and in the corridors of power in Washington. Colonel Caraccilo offers doctrine and tools to ensure that preparation for war termination and conflict resolution are integrated into war planning from the beginning, and not just tacked on as an afterthought. His salient point – that the achievement of political ends and not military victory should drive war planning – is right on the mark, but all too often ignored by shortsighted policy-makers and military leaders. Had the Bush administration thought in these terms after 9/11, the history of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would be far different."—Peter R. Mansoor, Colonel, USA (Ret.), author of Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander’s War in Iraq

"COL Dominic Caraccilo, author and five-time combat veteran, puts his considerable intellectual powers to work on what I consider THE remaining challenge for counterinsurgency theorists: how are these messy political wars brought to an end? Caraccilo, offers some clear thinking about war termination strategies. This is a concise and extremely timely book for those interested in how to achieve the best possible exit from Afghanistan."—Linda Robinson, Author, Tell Me How This Ends: Gen. David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq

"Caraccilo, one of the Army's savviest and most experienced battlefield commanders, brings together theory and hard-won lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan in this book. The result is an important contribution to a topic that the U.S. foreign policy establishment has given far too little thought over the last decade. Caraccilo avoids easy answers and provides a framework that will compel commanders and policy makers to ponder the really hard questions before they put U.S. forces in harm's way."—Greg Jaffe, co-author of "The Fourth Star" and Pentagon correspondent, The Washington Post

"At last, a true war-fighter has described how to end what is called 'irregular war'. Academics have their view; a brigade commander offers ground truth. Caraccilo is the real deal, not a theoretician."—Bing West, Author, The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy and the Way Out of Afghanistan

"Dom Caraccilo has written a smart, sober book on a topic that is too often overlooked in American policy-war termination, defining the end-state the United States seeks from any military operation and then employing the right tools and the right strategy to bring about that end. At this moment, the United States is struggling in both Afghanistan and Iraq because the Bush Administration failed to define realistic end-states and develop strategies to achieve them, and the Obama Administration has so far mandated exits for both without developing exit strategies for either. Let us hope that our nation's leaders will contemplate the wisdom of Caraccilo's work and allow us to depart those conflicts better than we entered into them." —Kenneth M. Pollack, author of A Path Out of the Desert: A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East

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