View Full Version : Reading on COIN in Afghanistan: a place to start

08-10-2009, 02:04 PM
Moderator's Note

This was called 'UK Army officer writes' and has had a two post thread merged in 'Books that might have changed the war'. Now it is called 'Reading on COIN in Afghanistan: a place to start'. On a quick review I cannot see other threads here to merge in, although a number cover reports etc (ends).

Published in The (UK) Independent, an anonymous Welsh Guards officer writes on the war in Afghanistan: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/there-is-no-refuge-no-place-to-go-to-deal-with-your-grief-1769938.html

Opening sub-title: 'There is no refuge, no place to go to deal with your grief'
In the first ever unauthorised dispatch from an officer on the frontline, one young Captain offers a brutally honest account of life in Afghanistan, revealing the pain of losing comrades, the frustration at the lack of equipment, and the sense that the conflict seems unending and, at times, unwinnable.
Nothing I fear startling for those who have served in combat; within are familiar arguments on the lack of helicopters and more.


08-11-2009, 02:20 PM
Such real time, open-heart reporting cannot help but foster more awareness and serious thought in citizens who have tacitly and willingly sent their defenders into a hostile environment(s). The devastation of grief is a common bond and this Captain has strongly bonded , unknowingly, with some of the folks back home. The usual political and moral motivations of war have been cast aside and the pain of departed friends is shared and borne. It seems inevitable, more civilian interfacing with the Military brings more of the deeply personal to the Public's attention. It is essentially positive IMO though a sad and bitter subject. It seems fitting and honorable that he chose to be anonymous with his disclosure, not wanting any undue attention brought upon himself as a professional Soldier and I hope it was not out of fear of repercussion that he so spoke.

11-12-2009, 02:38 PM
You can guarantee fear of retribution played a part.
Speaking out of turn is the greatest possible thought-crime in our Soviet-ised system.

11-12-2009, 05:50 PM
The conversation between Jacqui Janes and Pm Gordon Brown is gaining a little media traction the past few days here David. Not much, but enough to have been replayed several times at least yesterday.

One of the things that struck me were her assertions regarding the lack of equipment, such as support helicopters. Now this Welsh Guard officer's accounts...

How is this playing out in the news over your way?

11-12-2009, 07:46 PM
...to the uninitiated, our Prime Minister is unlucky, hapless and a poor communicator who despite some errors, has an opportunistic opposition and some slightly dubious senior military advisors who have recently been tainted with party-political affililiations.

To the initiated, this man is singlehandledly responsible for the politicisation of Defence and its serial under-resourcing since 1997. As Chancellor (in charge of all tax-raising and national budgetary decisions), he had near total ownership not only of how much each department received, but also audit over how it was spent. Therefore our output and policy based Strategic Defence Review never stood a chance of being realised as a resourced plan. Blair could make no decision without Brown's approval, as he had no mastery of detail, and wouldn't challenge his symbiotic ally. Brown was therefore part of the flawed decisionmaking that saw us strategically distracted by Iraq, therefore allowing Afghanistan to fester. At no point did the man understand, support or sympathise with the Armed Forces in anything they did as an entity, other than to individual empathise with young working class men and women whom he instinctively felt were being exploited by people from privileged backgrounds who leap-frogged them in life.

You have to understand, this man is a lifelong committed socialist who is dedicated to State control and intervention of all aspects of life. He does not understand international dynamics. He refuses to acknowledge opposing points of view. Any dissent is to be isolated, discredited and then destroyed in detail. He has achieved his political success by the most ruthless form of socialist machine politics. You have to study it to believe it, the way the UK New Labour movement is straight out of George Orwell's 1984 - starting with control of language and the ownership of the single 'narrative'.

Other than that, he's a hell of a fella. We're very lucky to enjoy such enlightened leadership.

11-12-2009, 08:02 PM
Other than that, he's a hell of a fella. We're very lucky to enjoy such enlightened leadership.

Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

Sorry, I just couldn't resist.

11-12-2009, 08:36 PM

11-12-2009, 09:57 PM

You asked:
The conversation between Jacqui Janes and Pm Gordon Brown is gaining a little media traction the past few days here David..How is this playing out in the news over your way?.

I have commented on a different thread 'UK's Failing Strategy'

The scenes from Wotton Bassett of the funeral cortege(s) have a greater impact than Jacqui Janes -v- PM Gordon Brown IMHO on UK public opinion. Now others acknowledge a failure to explain to the oublic why; let alone to those serving like the late Mark Evison (on the other thread). I doubt many look too far, notably the losses time after time over the same territory and deaths to enable the last presidential election.

Even those who have been sympathetic, like the veteran Sunday Times reporter Christina Lamb, to our intervention now write "enough is enough" and in her last sentence I suspect sums up many othyer's opinion:
I don’t think we should just withdraw and let the Taleban take over. But I do believe we shouldn’t compound the mistakes already made by sending yet more young men to die.

From: http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/5482223/more-troops-will-just-mean-more-targets.thtml

11-12-2009, 10:35 PM
...winning always struck me as an attractive option. There are too few people with the guts to publicly face down - and correct - ill informed public opinion.

We shouldn't bloody withdraw. We should stop buggering things up and start doing things right - starting with resourcing the McChrystal review and shifting the whole mission to an OMLT model - which field men have been saying for years. Tactics 101: don't send a battalion to conduct a Divisional operation and moan about casualties afterwords!

Or am I in some parallel universe of force ratios and proper prior preparation preventing p*** poor performance...?

11-13-2009, 12:34 AM
We should stop buggering things up and start doing things right - starting with resourcing the McChrystal review and shifting the whole mission to an OMLT model - which field men have been saying for years.

Amen, brother. Shifting more resources to OMLT/CSTC-A mission would improve the unity of effort and command and be an instant force multiplier, plus improve the mentorship of the Afghan forces.

09-10-2010, 06:34 PM
Hat tip to Kings of War in pointing to Anatol Lieven's review of three books on Afghanistan.

The link:http://www.currentintelligence.net/reviews/2010/9/6/insights-from-the-afghan-field.html

Security policy in Afghanistan may be powered by sublimated imperial nostalgia, but most of the really valuable practical memories and lessons of empire have long since been forgotten. Veteran journalist and author Anatol Lieven reviews three recent books that illustrate what we should have known about the Taliban.

Followed in the opening paragraph:
IF BOOKS LIKE the ones under review had appeared in 2002, and been read by Western commanders and officials, they might have changed the course of the Afghan War. Even today, should a US administration ever be able to disentangle itself from the Karzai government and nerve itself to open serious negotiations with the Taliban, such works will be indispensable to understanding the people on the other side of the table.

KoW comments:http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2010/09/current-intelligence-on-afghanistan/#comments


09-10-2010, 08:39 PM
from the linked article (http://www.currentintelligence.net/reviews/2010/9/6/insights-from-the-afghan-field.html):

As Antonio Giustozzi writes, “Every age has its follies; perhaps the folly of our age could be defined as an unmatched ambition to change the world, without even bothering to study it in detail and understand it first.”

and so it still goes ....


11-04-2013, 10:36 PM
A review of three COIN books by Ryan Evans, 'Counterinsurgency was never about Afghanistan':http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/11/04/afghanistan_and_americas_irregular_problem

Matt Zeller's Watches Without Time provides a moving portrait of the war in Ghazni province through the author's eyes as a young lieutenant struggling to make sense of the war around him.

Ben Anderson is one of the most impressive. His book, No Worse Enemy, which informed his excellent 2013 documentary with Vice, "This Is What Winning Looks Like," spans 2007 to 2011 and covers his time with the British Army and the U.S. Marine Corps as they struggle to pacify Afghanistan's deadliest province, Helmand.

..one cannot truly understand the war unless one understands Afghan history, especially on a very local level. Carter Malkasian, also in Helmand, clearly mastered these details. While all three books are excellent, War Comes to Garmser stands above the rest.

SWJ Blog
03-10-2014, 05:30 PM
Reading Lawrence in Afghanistan: The Seven Pillars of Counter-COIN Wisdom (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/reading-lawrence-in-afghanistan-the-seven-pillars-of-counter-coin-wisdom)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/reading-lawrence-in-afghanistan-the-seven-pillars-of-counter-coin-wisdom) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
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